18th Mar 2015 5:00pm-7:00pm
Dr Fia Sundevall (Stockholm University)
When compulsory male military service was abolished in Sweden in 2010, a point of reference shared by millions of Swedish men came to an end as well. In the common understanding of daily life in the Swedish conscript service – passed on by generations of men and through popular culture – sex and sexuality often played a significant role. Amongst the themes commonly depicted were love and/or casual relationships, a sexist and homophobic jargon, frequent consumption of pornography, and an urban legend about a specific regiment for homosexual conscripts. Until recently however, no scholars had explored these themes further.
In 2011 the Swedish Army museum in 2011 launched a research and documentation project on the newly abolished conscript force. Memories related to sexuality were amongst the topics the project sought out to collect and analyze. Through interviews and a web survey, some 20 oral and more then 2 000 written memories of former conscripts were collected. Drawing on this data, the presentation explores narratives of sexuality and its intersection with gender and age in the Swedish post-WWII conscript force. The presentation will also address benefits and problems in the use of web surveys as a mode of data collection in historical research in general, and within this specific project and on the matter of sexuality in particular.
Dr Fia Sundevall is a social and economic historian at Stockholm University, Sweden, currently researching sexuality and heteronormativity in the Swedish Armed Forces 1900–2010. In 2015 she will be a guest researcher at the University of Brighton’s Centre for Research in Memory, Narrative and Histories. Her previous work includes The last male bastion of the labour market: gender and military work in Sweden 1865–1989 [Det sista manliga yrkesmonopolet: genus och militärt arbete i Sverige 1865–1989] (Makadam 2011), and “Collecting memories through web surveys: perspectives on changing modes of documentation“ [Minnesinsamling genom webbenkäter: perspektiv på en dokumentationsmetod i förändring] with Anna Fredholm in Journal of Nordic Museology, no 1 2013.