Nordic Journal Lambda Nordica celebrates 20 Years

2015-11-11 10:35

Lambda Nordica has long been unique in the Nordic context. In the future, the journal aims to break the Anglo-American dominance in LGBTQ research. The Nordic journal Lambda Nordica is turning 20 years old. We asked a group of Nordic gender scholars who have followed Lambda Nordica’s development about what the journal means and has meant to them and for Nordic LGBTQ research.

‘We have big plans. Today the LGBTQ field is clearly dominated by Anglo-American researchers and their journals. Our ambition is to become a European counterweight to that dominance, and we are also receiving more and more contributions from all over Europe and other parts of the world,’ says Jenny Björklund from the Centre for Gender Research Centrum at Uppsala University and editor-in-chief of Lambda Nordica together with Ulrika Dahl from Department of Gender Studies at Södertörn University.

Early with queer in Sweden

The first issue of Lambda Nordica was published in 1989 as a cultural journal focusing on homosexuality research. Lack of funding necessitated a time-out until 1995 when the journal received monetary support from Amundson’s Fund, administered by the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

Lambda Nordica has since then become more academically oriented, and trans and queer perspectives have grown in importance in the two regular and one double issue published per year. In fact, the journal was an early pioneer in introducing the concept of queer theory in Sweden, in a double issue in 1996.

‘Lambda Nordica has been of crucial importance to the research field. It has been the only Nordic publication in a field that has grown explosively in the last ten years,’ says Jenny Björklund.

‘It is the Nordic region’s only regularly published peer-reviewed journal on LGBTQ issues. We hope to be able to continue strengthening the journal and keep publishing issues addressing whatever topics are discussed nationally and internationally at the time. We have worked hard to expand Lambda Nordica and make it interesting also at the international level,’ says Ulrika Dahl.

Abstracts from around the world

Trans- and homonormativity has been given a lot of attention in LGBTQ research in recent years, and so have issues concerning nation and migration.

‘We have recently completed two major calls, one for an issue on history and temporality and one on queer, postcolonial Europe. There’s a lot of research going on in these areas. Time, history writing and memory are of central importance for the development of queer theory. And the issue of homonationalism and how LGBTQ issues in various ways are connected to European international policy, development policy and migration is definitely a hot topic right now. We have received a large number of abstracts from all over the world,’ says Ulrika Dahl. ‘We see it as important to enable junior researchers to write and want to help establish the field.’

‘We’re working actively to recruit writers. A growing number of dissertations are coming out, and new perspectives and new empirics are largely presented by PhD students and junior researchers. Yet the challenges faced in the field are very much the same as in the field of gender research as a whole: more funding is needed for research and PhD programmes,’ says Ulrika Dahl and points out that also the requirements for where researchers are to publish their work and how the articles should be written have increased.

Current system based on unpaid work

High quality requires a great deal of engagement from both the editors and the recruited peer reviewers. In order for the present citation-based career advancement system to work, the journals need to be enabled to operate on better terms, according to Ulrika Dahl.

‘We are expected to publish articles in a certain way, but the infrastructure available for this is mediocre. We base our definition of scholarly excellence on peer reviewing, but no time is allocated for it, people are supposed to do it as an unpaid chore. Although the work is fun, exciting and important, the system eventually has to be reformed or else it’s not going to work,’ says Ulrika Dahl.

Lambda nordica is owned by a non-profit organisation and currently receives financial support from the Swedish Research Council. The peer-reviewed journal is published in English both in paper form on subscription basis and online as open source, which means that all articles can be accessed free of charge.

Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen, senior lecturer, Centre for Gender Research, University of Oslo

For me, the Lambda Nordica journal has provided and is continuing to provide a uniquely positioned voice and perspective with regard to interdisciplinary, transnational gender, queer and sexuality studies and research-activism.

Lambda Nordica´s genealogy and profile do extremely important work in relativising the hegemonic Anglophone and North America-centred theorisation and its concurrent politics of citational practice. The location of Nordic Europe offers a unique geographical, political as well as conceptual specificity – by emphasising the Nordic location but also a specifically Nordic queer perspective.

I think Lambda Nordica in this sense creates a very particular queer genealogy of work that is urgently important in the transnational arena of queer research and activism today. On a personal note, I have been very impressed with the editorial quality of author interaction and highly dedicated feedback and copyediting support; this is quite exceptional in the contemporary publishing industry.

Michael Nebeling Petersen, assistant professor, Department for the Study of Culture, University of Southern Denmark

Although LGBTQ research is closely interwoven with gender research, having its own publication is very important to a research field. The LGBTQ research is scattered across universities and institutions all over the Nordic region, and despite Lambda Nordica’s Swedish emphasis, it has served as an important node for the whole region. It has not only given students and researchers access to the latest research but has also enabled them to publish their own work and thus participate in the scholarly dialogue and debate.

Tiina Rosenberg, professor of Theatre Studies, Department of Culture and Aesthetics, University of Stockholm

Lambda Nordica is an important introducer of LGBTQ research in the Nordic region. The Lambda Nordica, both young researchers more established academics the opportunity to present their research and discuss key issues in this exciting area.

It is gratifying to Lambda Nordica’s articles are now available online. Thus there is a unique opportunity to look both backward and forward in the Nordic LGBTQ studies and get an idea of how the research developed.

It is also gratifying that so many young researchers interested in LGBTQ studies and are able to draw inspiration from past issues of the Lambda Nordica.

Jens Rydström, professor, Department of Gender Studies, Lund University

In the early 2000s when I was looking for literature to use in a course on LGBTQ in history, I found that Lambda Nordica had a lot to offer.

Since then, the journal has continued to develop and has become one of the most important European forums for theoretical debate and empirical studies on queer theory and various aspects of gender, sexuality and intersectionality.

Without Lambda Nordica, I doubt that the Nordic queer research would have been where it is today on the international stage.

Antu Sorainen, reader, Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies, University of Helsinki

Lambda Nordica helped to overcome an amnesia that obscured the historical data and theorising on queer sexualities in Nordic countries. By cross-discussing data from anthropology, sociology, history, arts and philosophy, it helped to build Nordic Queer Studies, along with its younger cousin SQS.

We need these journals because the field suffers from a paucity of institutional support. Lambda Nordica is a bright blip on our radar as the governmental austerity politics strikes our universities and it is hard to see any immediate improvement in the situation.

Our most important ally, Gender Studies, and more widely humanities and social sciences departments struggle for their survival. In this situation, Lambda Nordica cannot be praised enough for its historical achievements in building the field and for its continuing importance in providing a crucial site for (queering) social justice in the Nordic countries.

Author Inga-Bodil Ekselius
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