Elisabeth Engebretsen: "Invisible Women in 'Woman-Friendly' Norway: An Ethnohistory of the Lesbian Bus Campaign, 1988"
The Departmental Seminar Series features Elisabeth Engebretsen, Associate Professor in Gender Studies at the University of Stavanger.
The seminar will be held on Zoom. For meeting ID information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Abstract: This paper takes as point of departure a cross-country bus campaign in 1988 to promote lesbian-feminist visibility and solidarity. As a part of an ongoing collaborative project that traces Scandinavian LGBT activism and its sometimes-divisive relationship to core values of the Nordic equality and welfare state such as ‘women-friendliness’ and homo-tolerance, I am interested exploring in the gendered politics of visibility at the time, as well as the extent to which excavating movement histories are relevant for succeeding in contemporary struggles. Based in oral history interviews and media and organizational archival materials, I discuss key aspects of the Bus Campaign, for example the women’s varied experiences with religious homophobia and misogyny and the tensions between lesbian-feminists and the Women’s Front organization (Kvinnefronten) that was largely concerned with heterosexual women’s needs. I also bring up participants’ own reflections on their Campaign experience in context with current anti-gender and far-right populist campaigns that especially target women and LGBT populations. Finally, by examining various actors’ discursive appropriations of ‘the past’ – the state, LGBT activists and anti-gender movements – I seek to demonstrate how gendered and sexual regulatory systems are integral to, and carries transformative potentials of, the mythic national(ist) narrative of Norwegian egalitarianism.
Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen is Associate Professor in the Centre for Gender Studies, University of Stavanger, coordinates the Queer Research Group, and is a core member of the UiS Research Group on Populism, Anti-Gender and Democracy. The author of Queer women in urban China: An ethnography (Routledge, 2013) and co-editor of “Anthropology’s queer sensibilities” (In Sexualities, 2018), amongst other publications, Engebretsen specializes in China and Nordic Europe on themes to do with gender and sexual diversity, kinship, activism, queer-feminist ethnography and research methodologies. Engebretsen is editor-in-chief of the Nordic queer studies journal lambda nordica (with Erika Alm) and the Routledge Anthropology book series Theorizing Ethnography: Concept, Context, Critique (with E.J. Gonzalez-Polledo and Silvia Posocco). Relevant current projects include the NOS-HS funded Transforming Identities: Changes, Tensions and Visions in the Nordic Region, and the Fritt Ord funded book project Pride på norsk: Skeiv mobilisering og solidaritet i vår tid.