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ISA award to paper on LGBT rights and the branding of Swedish military

News: Nov 01, 2018

Katharina Kehl and Sanna Strand, PhD students at the School of Global Studies, came second in this year’s International Studies Association’s (ISA) FTGS Graduate Student Paper Award. They will receive a certificate of commendation at the ISA conference in Toronto next year.

In their paper “A country to fall in love with/in”: gender and sexuality in Swedish Armed Forces’ marketing campaigns, Sanna Strand and Katharina Kehl analyse how the Swedish Armed Forces portray gender and sexuality in their advertising campaigns.

“More specifically, we were interested in understanding how gender and sexuality are mobilized or used to strengthen the Swedish Armed Forces brand, with the aim to both attract potential recruits and gain trust among the rest of the population,” say Sanna Strand and Katharina Kehl.

They found that the Swedish Armed Forces convey an image of Sweden as a tolerant and progressive nation by emphasising that LGBT people enjoy rights in Sweden, which may seem “extreme” in other parts of the world. This is then presented as a reason for why the nation must be defended by military means.

“It is important that the Swedish Armed Forces in different ways make the LGBT soldier and the LGBT citizen visible. Such visibility can contribute to make a traditionally hyper-masculine and heteronormative institution more inclusive and signal that discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation is not accepted neither within the Swedish Armed Forces nor by Swedish law, say Sanna Strand and Katharina Kehl.

"But when the Swedish Armed Forces describe LGBT people’s enjoyment of human rights as something under threat from external forces, these rights appear at the same time as something that can be guaranteed by military rearmament. This is problematic, especially in light of current tensions in the Baltic Sea area. Additionally, this type of rhetoric requires that the existence of discrimination against LGBT people within Sweden and within the Swedish Armed Forces is invisibilized, which risks making these very real problems more difficult to address.”

Katharina Kehl and Sanna Strand will receive their certificate of commendation at the ISA conference in Toronto next year.

Link to the paper: “A country to fall in love with/in”: gender and sexuality in Swedish Armed Forces’ marketing campaigns
 



Contact details and more information about the researchers:
Sanna Strand, PhD student in Peace and Development Research
Katharina Kehl, PhD student in Peace and Development Research

About the Award
The award, which is sponsored by Feminist Theory and Gender Studies (FTGS), was established in 1996 to honour the best feminist theory and/or gender studies graduate student paper presented at the current year’s ISA Annual Convention.
First prize in the International Studies Association’s FTGS Graduate Student Paper Award went to Lewis Turner, PhD student at the Department of Politics and International Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, for the article Syrian Refugee Men and the Gendered Operation of Humanitarian Power.
 

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