Page 1

no 6 | nr o v2 e| mabperri l22001 122


Telling the stories of war victims

Every conflict has its own history, says peace researcher Maria Stern

page 16

Record surplus

In god we trust

Colourful and glamorous

We can afford to hire more staff

Does an American president have to be Christian ?

New doctors were solemnly celebrated

page 4

page 12

page 14


Vice Chancellor

A magazine for employees of the Universit y of Gothenburg

Research proposal a step in the right direction

Eva Lundgren  031 - 786 10 81

photogr aphy: Julia L andgren

B u t t h e r e s e a rc h bill also has some weaknesses. One is that specific efforts in the humanities and social sciences are lacking. My expectation is that the targeted efforts in ageing and health and sustainable social planning, for example, will include research in several disciplines, including areas such as the humanities and social sciences and arts. To summarise the Government’s research proposal, I think nevertheless it can be said that the clarification of long-term thinking, freedom and risk-taking gives important signals for the future. It was time a couple weeks ago for conferring doctorates. It’s always exciting on this solemn occasion to be able to praise all

E d i to r - i n C h i e f a n d P u b l i s h e r

Allan Eriksson  031 - 786 10 21 E d i to r a n d V i c e P u b l i s h e r

of GU Journal, the Government has presented its research and innovation bill for 2013–2016. The research bill has been critically discussed for over a year. Many people have joined the discussions and I have been a part of the Government’s research advisory committee. With signals that there wouldn’t be any new research funds, most people were probably surprised by the rise in funds of four billion crowns until 2016 that was presented. I think we can be sure that Minister of Education Jan Björklund had a tough match with the other departments. S i n c e t h e l a st i ss u e

I n t e r m s o f adding new money, it is particularly gratifying that the base funding will increase; we’ve talked for a long time about the importance of being able to decide over money ourselves without the control of the Government. The increase up to 2016 is 900 million crowns and, of these, about 90 million will go to the University of Gothenburg. A larger proportion of basic resources increases the long-term thinking and makes it easier for schools to take greater responsibility in employing people, for example. It’s also good that the proposal signals the importance of free research, that is, research that is not earmarked and decided in advance. It is immensely important for Swedish research that it is given room for researchers to think along completely new lines and that they are given the possibility to take risks. After many years of requests, the University of Gothenburg will now also get money for its own innovation office. Getting funds for research in the arts must be viewed as the Government giving the area the legitimacy it deserves.

November 2012

P h oto g r a p h y a n d R e p r o d u c t i o n

Johan Wingborg  031 - 786 29 29 G r a p h i c F o r m a n d L ayo u t

Anders Eurén  031 - 786 43 81 C o n t r i b u t i n g G r a p h i c F o r m a n d L ayo u t

Björn Eriksson T r a s l at i o n

Janet Vesterlund a d d r e ss

GU Journal

the doctors, honorary doctors and jubilee doctors and all the hard work and efforts that have led to the conferral of a PhD. It was a memorable occasion and I’d like to thank everyone who contributed to that. It was also particularly gratifying to be able to name that several of the things that were realised in the newly presented research proposal were things that I had given the honorary guest at the last PhD conferral, Jan Björklund, to think about.

University of Gothenburg Box 100, 405 30 Gothenburg e-post internet ISSN

1402-9626 i ss u e s

7 issues/year. The next issue will come out on December 18, 2012. Deadline for manuscripts

that the proposal signals longterm thinking, but that isn’t the reality we have today. Our activities are characterised instead by many and rapid changes, not least in terms of resources. We have many interested people who would very much like to gain greater influence over our activities. Our role and our values are being constantly challenged. All together, this means that we as a school must have clear, long-term goals that allow for a changing and not always foreseeable future. This is exactly what the University of Gothenburg’s new vision with goals and strategies, Vision 2020, works toward. It i s g o o d

November 30 M at e r i a l

The Journal does not take responsibility for unsolicited material. The editorial office is responsible for unsigned material. Feel free to quote, but give your source. C h a n g e o f a d d r e ss

Inform the editorial office of the change in writing. C ov e r

Maria Stern, professor at the School of Global Studies Photography: Johan WingborgScience

It i s v e ry ple a s i n g to see the involvement and interest being put into implementing Vision 2020, now that it has finally started. Action plans are being realised and, with all this enthusiasm, I’m sure that we’ll succeed. 3750M S-000256

Pam Fredman


GUJOURNAL 6 | 2012


Letter from the Vice-chancellor

2 It seems like the Government listened news

4 Economic chief Lars Nilsson wants to see more action 5 Risk that the Government’s investments won’t lead to new breakthrough research 6 Thomas Sterner to gets new top job in the US 7 You can’t miss this. It’s soon time for Global Week profile


8 Our current manic security thinking limits our freedom, according to peace researcher Maria Stern



11 International guest teachers are a reason for the success of the University orchestra 12 Why does religion have so much significance in the American election? Åke Sander explains 14 A colourful spectacle

A deeper under­standing

Professional musicians offer stimulation

Maria Stern, who does research on sexual violence in war, thinks that both men and women are victims.

Just in time for the ten-year anniversary, the University of Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra receives a cooperation prize.

14 12

Flashy, glamorous and grand A total of 102 PhDs were conferred during the ceremony.

God in American politics In US politics religion is more important than economics. Åke Sander explains why.

Editorial Office: Giving information doesn’t solve problems T h e fo u r t h wo r k barometer has now been published in a detailed report. It presents all questions from different perspectives and in comparison with earlier years. On the whole it is very interesting and relevant reading. But what is the point of putting such an immense amount of time and energy into an investigation if the results are not taken seriously and lead to improvements? We hope of course, but the last time the results were presented to only 26 per cent of all employees by their managers. You as employees have the right to demand to know the results concerning your department. Part of the barometer has to do with

information and communication. One purpose of the re-organisation is to strengthen external and internal communication, which is praiseworthy. However, it is wrong to believe that problems can be solved by giving information. The University of Gothen­burg is a large and complex organisation where it is not obvious that all parts feel that they belong together with each other or with GU centrally. The barometer also shows that many at GU feel that their management is unclear. Without a good manager, internal communication will not function. Lennar Weibull writes that GU

Journal is the channel for all of the University that is spread most widely and is also very positively valued. That is gratifying, of course, but there are also problems, among other things that distribution does not work satisfactorily. That only two of three say that they have access to the magazine is not acceptable. T h e d e bat e a b o u t small languages has also flared up in GU Journal. Three representatives of the area criticise the management of the Faculty of Arts for their decision to stop offering Italian and threats about phasing out other languages.

The dean group insinuates that GU Journal’s editorial office is behind the articles because we have encouraged people on Facebook to share what they think about the issue. However, one of the magazine’s tasks is to get a debate started. In this case, several persons had already contacted us and expressed their willingness to debate. Thus there is no hidden agenda on our part. Debate had already been started in social media.

Allan Eriksson & Eva Lundgren



Employ more teachers and researchers!

Photogr aphy: Johan Wingborg

This is what CFO Lars Nilsson urges after having summed up GU’s financial results. At the end of the year the University will have a savings capital of over 800 million crowns. the first eight months of the year look better than expected. Compared with a planned deficit of 20 million crowns for the year, Lars Nilsson is counting on a surplus of 6 million. What is the cause of that? Revenues from research councils have increased and the costs are less than expected – despite the University having 60 more annual employees than a year ago and more strategic investments according to, for example, red 10. “What’s positive is that more doctoral students have been employed. But at the same, teaching and research personnel have decreased by 15 annual employees compared with last year, which is surprising considering that the volume has increased.” For next year, faculty grants have increased by a total of 38 million crowns. That means T h e r e s u lt s o f

primarily more money going to research and graduate studies while education will decrease by 600 seats. At the same time, the number of seats for medical doctors, dentists and nurses will increase. Of the total 809 million in accumulated surplus, over 330 million lie in education and 460 million in research. A larger proportion, about 60 per cent, of this sum is tied to different measures but an estimated 40 per cent is ‘free’,” says Lars Nilsson. ten years, the University has accumulated 1.5 billion crowns in unspent funds, which in concrete terms means that researchers have received funds for research but have not used all the money from different research financers. A new thing in the research proposal is that the University of Gothenburg will get a further 88 million for research during the period 2014–2016. “It’s incredibly satisfying. But if we don’t start to use ‘old money’ there’s a risk that this ‘new money’ will also just accumulate, and that’s not the intention.” Another new development I n t h e l a st

»We don’t run our activities to make money.« Lars Nilsson

king about how they’re going to use the money.” In the whole university sector, there is a total of 18 billion crowns in accumulated surplus. “That’s enough to run Lund University, including all research and education, for three years.” Lars Nilsson thinks that unspent funds can be a serious problem in the long run. Increasingly tough demands are being made now for schools to report what they intend to do. “We get money to run our activities; we don’t run our activities to make money. That’s an important difference. We could use parts of the surplus to employ more teachers and researchers, among other things by giving more teacher instruction. It would strengthen the University of Gothenburg’s attractiveness. My impression is that we sometimes put too much time into planning. I understand that it takes time to recruit good personnel but we’ve heard that argument for a long time now. What’s needed now is action and that we instil courage in our departments so that they dare to employ people.” Allan Eriksson

is that the Government is strengthening research in the arts by 6 million during the coming two years. Not only that – education programs that have been successful according to HSV’s (the Swedish National Agency for Higher Education) quality evaluations will get an extra supplement of 13.5 million crowns. The State’s higher prices in the area of the humanities, social sciences and law will go into effect next year, which altogether gives an increase of almost 30 per cent per full-time student. M o st o f t h e faculties are reporting positive numbers and will have increased their savings capital by the end of the year. For example, the Faculty of Arts has 113 million and Sahlgrenska Academy has 284 million. “It’s a very pleasant situation, but they also have to start thin-

Facts The financial situation is very good, but two facul­ ties are in a risk zone, ac­ cording to Lars Nilsson. The University board is now issuing strong measures. The Faculty of Science is planning a deficit of 5 million crowns and the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts a deficit of 15 million crowns. “By the end of the year the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts won’t have any money left, and the Science only 7 million left. The situation is very serious,” is Lars Nilsson’s judgement. The University board

has now raised demands that faculty management start strong action plans. “These faculties have deep structural problems, but in different ways. The big problems at the Faculty of Science are in basic education and the Faculty of Fine, Applied and Performing Arts has a research volume that is too large and they’ve employed too many graduate students. The science faculty has particularly wound up in an evil cycle with fewer students and declining research funds and something radical has to be done to turn around their finances.”


GUJOURNAL 6 | 2012

Young talents need more support There is a systematic problem in Swedish research financing! says biophysicist Annette Granéli. “Quality has to be judged by a whole palette of criteria. And young talents need good career ways.”

P r i m a r i ly it h a s to do with daring to depart from the routine way of measuring quality. “People who publish a lot of articles probably do research in an established area. Innovative ideas take time to develop and new networks require work to get started. So if it’s independent research in untested areas that we want, we have to find other ways to make evaluations. For one thing, we should use many more criteria and have more foreign referees.” The Government is also devoting special funds to make it possible for universities to employ top international researchers. But Annette Granéli is doubtful about the

University picks out especially promising young researchers by so called Research Fellows, where the researchers are able to concentrate on research for four years and then, if they fulfil the goals of the school, be employed as lecturers. the universities in Sweden call for posts of that kind that are given good financing by Government grants! Then researchers would get the opportunity to start something from scratch.

“ T h i n k i f a ll

»People who publish a lot of ­articles probably do research in an established area. Innovative ideas take time to develop.« Photogr aphy: Johan Wingborg

among the countries in the world that give the most support to research. And there’s going to be more: the research and innovation bill has a whopping four billion crowns for leading edge research, schools’ basic resources and large investments in life science. But there is a risk that this investment doesn’t give very much back, according to Annette Granéli, vice chairman of Sweden’s young academy. “It isn’t the first time that the Government has tried to invest in leading edge research, but still not really done that. It’s good of course that they’re putting an emphasis on individuals instead of big environments and are earmarking resources for young researchers. But those big breakthroughs, the really exciting new thinking, require a completely different view of research financing.” Sw e d e n i s

usefulness of that strategy. “Of course, an international star can act as a vitamin injection but the actual structural problem remains: we have a difficult time getting the really big breakthroughs. Another problem is that researchers in Sweden often stay at the same school where they’ve done their doctorate and build on research that already exists and has an established network. In that way it’s hard for unusual or cross-disciplinary ideas to be recognised and it

They would be very attractive posts that would increase competition between schools and thus researchers’ mobility. This would mean finding a good balance between knowledge competition and long-term security so that the researcher can dare to put efforts into unusual ideas, too,” says Annette Granéli. Eva Lundgren

Rese arc h and innovation bill

Annette Granéli

also works against researchers’ incentives to change directions later in their careers.” But Annette Granéli points out that there are exceptions. For example, Linköping

The Government will invest 4 billion crowns in research during the period 2013–2016. This has primarily to do with an increase in research funds to universities, which will be distributed according to quality criteria. A special program will be created for outstanding young researchers. Special funds will also be reserved for recruiting top international researchers. Life science and infrastructure will also get extra funds.


What is Research Professional? It’s a database with research financers from all over the world that is continuously updated. You can learn more on November 27. The database contains calls in all kinds of research. It’s open to all employees of the University of Gothenburg. But unfortunately it’s not so well known. “We’ve recently made a questionnaire investigation that shows that those who have used the service are very satisfied,” says Bertil Ohlsson, research funding advisor at the Research and Innovation Services at the University of Gothenburg. Unfortunately, very few employees are familiar with the service. For that reason, Jade Lenthall at Research Professional in London is coming to Gothenburg to give a lecture on the service. “We hope of course that as many as possible take the chance to learn more about the database,” explains Bertil Ohlsson. “So contact us or go in to our homepage and sign up!” Research Professional will be presented in the Wallenberg hall at the Wallenberg Conference Centre on Tuesday, November 27 at the following times: 10:00–11:00 a.m., 11:15 a.m.–12:15p.m. and 1:15–2:15 p.m. For information and notification of participation: www. Or contact Bertil Ohlsson, 031-7865209

Professor accused of fraud freed of charges Suchitra Holgersson, professor of transplantation biology, who was accused of research misconduct, has been freed of the charge by the Central Ethical Review Board. This means that Holgersson gave reasonable and credible information and that the charge of misconduct is unfounded. “Very pleasing news. I hope that in the future people realise that rules of law are equally important in investigating charges of research fraud as they are in other areas,” says Elias Eriksson, professor of pharmacology, who together with Kristoffer Hellstrand, professor of tumour immunology, has been strongly involved in the case. Elias Eriksson points out that Vetenskapsrådet, by carrying out an obviously substandard investigation, put the vicechancellors of Karolinska Institute and the University of Gothenburg in a difficult situation. “It was also unfortunate that the University of Gothenburg gave the task of judging the credibility of Vetenskapsrådet’s investigation to the MAQS Law Firm, since these lawyers had already taken a position in the same matter at the request of their main client, Karolinska Institute, and it was thus in their self-interest to find Holgersson guilty.” Suchitra Holgersson has been employed as professor at the Sahlgrenska Academy since 2008. The suspicions of misconduct started when she was employed at Karolinska Institute. The Vice-Chancellor explains on the homepage of the University of Gothenburg that she is satisfied that the case has now been investigated. “It’s important both for researchers and for research that a suspicion of misconduct is examined in a credible way.”


News Photogr aPHy: Johan Wingborg

Thomas Sterner chief economist in the US How can we manage emis­ sions of methane in natural gas extraction? It’s one of many questions that the Environmen­ tal Defense Fund (EDF) in New York works with. Thomas Sterner will be the organisation’s chief economist. EDF i s p ro ba b ly not well known by many Swedes. Thomas Sterner, professor of environmental economics, compares the organisation with Naturskyddsföreningen (the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation) but with more than 400 employees and a budget of over a billion crowns. The head office is in New York City, but there are nine more offices in the US, one each in Mexico and China and smaller offices in many other countries. One example of environmen­ tal policy measures that EDF works with is natural gas extraction.

“The US and a number of other countries are facing a new technique, fracking, which makes it possible to extract new, enormous amounts of natural gas. This appears to have great environmental advantages since natural gas is a fossil fuel with about half as much carbon dioxide emissions as coal. However, the climate advantages can be wiped out because natural gas consists to a large extent of methane, which leaks out during extraction and is very harmful to the climate,” says Thomas Sterner. M e t h a n e i s a powerful greenhouse gas with about a 25 times greater warming effect than carbon dioxide. There are no sure statistics at this time on how large the leaks are. “EDF has prepared a proposal for measurement and control programs and rules for limiting methane gas leakage to one per cent of the extracted gas.”

Thomas Sterner otherwise does research on economic instruments, for example how taxes can be formed to effectively prevent climate changes or protect natural resources and at the same time be fair between people and countries. Together with a great number of international researchers, he recently published a book on petrol tax, Fuel Taxes and the Poor, about how taxes primarily affect middle and high wage earners, not low wage earners. The effect is particularly clear in poor countries. He points out that the formation of instruments must be carefully tailored to suit each country and each individual question. Why did you say yes to the job of chief economist for EDF?

“I believe in the significance of a sabbatical year for researchers, in other words the tradition of allowing researchers to leave their posts to broaden their horizon somewhere else for a

year. It’s especially important for us who work at comparatively small universities to get inspiration now and again from other researchers in the world, not least if we want to keep our place in international competition.” B u t h e ’ ll k e e p working 20 per cent for the University of Gothenburg, which he plans to visit regularly. And he feels that there are good possibilities for cooperation between EDF, the University of Gothenburg and other Swedish universities. “I see not least possibilities for Environment for Development Initiative, which is a part of the international environmental economics program that the Unit for Environmental Economics has been running since 2007;” says Thomas Sterner.

Karin Backteman edf The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is a not-for-profit organisation and one of the USA’s most powerful environmental organisations. It was established in 1967 in connection with the fight against DDT that was inspired by Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring. The organisation is behind the introduction of trade in emission rights for sulphur dioxide, for example, and the introduction of marine reserves in the Pacific Ocean. The Economist recently called the Environmental Defense Fund USA’s economically most literate environmental advocate.


GUJOURNAL 6 | 2012

Global Week

Humans’ rights at Global Week Some of the features of this year’s Global Week are a Swedish premier of the film Dear Mandela, a seminar with an alterna­ tive Nobel prize winner, the situation of the Romani people and a lecture by Brian Palmer. The theme is humans’ rights and is con­ nected to the Swedish Forum for Human Rights the same week. Liv i n g w ith e x tr e m e c o u r ag e is the title of Brian Palmer’s lecture. The earlier Segerstedt professor has recently created a calendar with 365 people who have taken great risks for the sake of democracy and humanity. In his lecture he shows how their courage can also be used in everyday life. “But Global Week has truly developed into the faculties’ week. It’s full of activities, exhibitions and performances everywhere,” says Pernilla Danielsson, Director at the International Centre. The School of Business, Economics and Law is organising a student fair, Sahlgrenska Academy is giving inspiration lunches and children’s rights will be discussed at the Faculty of Education. Exchange students will perform at the Faculty of Social Sciences, and there will be an exciting Science Slam in the foyer at Sprängkullsgatan. And the artists will give a performance about eternity captured in a second. T h e e n v i ro n m e n ta l unit will participate again this year, this time concerning people’s attitudes to the climate issue. Gudmund Hernes, who wrote the report Hot Topic–Cold Comfort, will speak as will Katherine Richardson, co-author of the book Climate Change: Global Risks, Challenges and Decisions. Gothenburg is one of five municipalities that the Government has appointed to work with the inclusion of the Romani people in the city. How will this be done? Among others, the Green Party’s Thomas Martinsson will discuss this at this year’s contribution from Jonsered’s manor. “Bagir Kwiek, chairman of the Association for Romani people, will also give a personal picture of how it is to be a Romani in Sweden. Ingrid Schiöler will talk about the situation of the Romani people in Europe and GU researcher Peter Johansson will describe the research situation in discrimination/diversity/inclusion,” explains

project leader Eva Staxäng. The seminar is a continuation of the series on the Romani people’s situation at Jonsered’s manor. Ru t h M a n o r a m a , who received the Right Livelihood Award in 2009, the alternative

Brian Palmer

Ruth Manorama

Katherine Richardson

Nobel prize, will talk about India’s hidden apartheid. This has to do with the Dalites, the “untouchables”, who are still oppressed, though it is forbidden according to Indian law. The lecture is an example of cooperation between the Swedish Forum for Human Rights and the Faculty of Arts. “The University of Gothenburg will also host two Ethiopians who have been helped by the international network Scholars at Risk that supports researchers who have gotten into trouble in dictatorships,” says Pernilla Danielsson. “The management of the University of Gothenburg is the first in Sweden to invite the organisation.” Guest service is arranging a global evening for GU’s guest teachers and for all colleagues that are here on administrator exchange. “We have created a completely individual program for about thirty guests from our partner universities,” says Laila Johannesson at the International Centre. “Workshops on best practice and social media, lectures and sightseeing around town are on the program.” During the week there will also be a film premier! “The documentary Dear Mandela will be shown at Världskulturmuseet (the Museum of World Culture). It’s actually a Sweden premier,” says sociologist Christoph Haug. The film, which has won a number of prizes, is about three youths who refuse to be thrown out of their homes in the slum and decide to protest at the highest court. International Centre has also engaged about fifty volunteers – students who make sure that all the practical details function in the best way.

Gudmund Hernes

Highlights during Global Week November 12–16 Tuesday: 12:00–12:30 p.m. Anti Apartheid and the Emergence of a Global Civil Society – Faculty of Arts 1:00–2:30 p.m. The human mindset and relation to the earth and climate change – main building, Vasaparken 1:00–3:00 p.m. India’s Hidden Apartheir – Faculty of Arts 3:30–5:00 p.m. Gothenburg Annual Lecture on Global Collaboration: Living with Extreme Courage – main building, Vasaparken Wednesday: 12:00–1:00 p.m. Science Slam – Faculty of Social Sciences 12:00–3:00 p.m. Study Abroad Fair – Viktoriagatan 13 5:30–7:45 p.m. Swedish premier of the documentary Dear Mandela, Världskulturmuseet 7:00–9:00 p.m. The eternity of a moment – concert at Artisten Thursday: 10:30 a.m. The Romani people’s situation in Europe, in Sweden, in Gothenburg – main building, Vasaparken 12:00–1:00 p.m. Science Slam – Faculty of Social Sciences 1:00–3:00 p.m. From Minor Field Studies to the Global University – main building, Vasaparken Get more information at and on




text eva lundgren  |  PhotograPHy Johan Wingborg

The victims of war Each big conflict has its special tale. In the Democratic Republic of Congo it has to do with sexual violence. But peace researcher Maria Stern thinks that other parts of history have to be brought out. She’ll now participate in the Swedish Forum for Human Rights. h e m a i n e n t r a n c e to the School of Global Studies is locked. The same goes for the first door I shake at the back of the old maternity hospital. But I could slip through the third door. Doorlocks, passage badges and guards are a part of everyday life in society today so that we can feel secure. We do – don’t we? “It’s something of a paradox that all these security systems sooner have the opposite effect,” says Maria Stern, professor of peace and development studies. “Somebody wins from our always feeling so vulnerable that we have to constantly protect ourselves.” Despite the chilly October morning, Maria Stern has ridden her bicycle from her home in Askim. Her workroom is full of bookshelves, decks of children’s cards lie on the table and there’s a map of New York attached to the inside of the door. That’s where she comes from originally, from Manhattan, and it’s where she always returns, at least once a year. It wa s lov e that got Maria Stern to come to Sweden the first time, back in 1986. She took leave from her university studies to spend a semester here and study Swedish, among other things. Since then, she came a number of times and finally in 1993 established residence here. Now she has a large family – her husband, two children of her own and four stepchildren. But, no, she doesn’t really think she’s Swedish. “I’m somewhere in between the USA and

Sweden. I’m of course impressed by the social welfare here that made it possible for me, a single mother of two, to do my doctorate. And I can compare with my sister in the US who never would have been able to afford to have her children in daycare. But I still feel most at home in New York. There’s another kind of openness and a social community there that I miss here.” Having attended a progressive high school that taught justice issues probably contributed to her interest in peace and security. And she was interested in research early on. But it was mostly by chance that she landed at the University of Gothenburg. “I’d studied political science with an orientation toward international relations at Cornell University in New York. When I got my Bachelor’s degree, a friend gave me the tip that there was a stipend available in Sweden, so I sent in my papers. I thought that it had to do with a job but suddenly I was enrolled in a Master’s program at the University of Gothenburg.” S h e w rot e h e r doctoral thesis on security and identity among Mayan women in Guatemala. “I’d worked for a while at the World Order Models Project research institute in New York and felt growing frustration over research about security almost only having to do with nations’ security policy. Who could feel safe, be protected from what and how, was little studied. In 1993 I took a trip to Central America and was fascinated by the Mayan culture, not least by the strong but very vulnerable women there who were active in different resistance movements. I decided to investigate what security means

to the people who truly live with difficulties: poor women from the indigenous people in Guatamala.” Maria Stern is also interested in method issues. In research on the Mayan women, there was no established strategy to follow. “I decided to build my own investigations on stories. The thesis gives a number of these women’s life histories.” One thing was a clear paradox for Maria Stern: security also has to do with limits. women fought among other things for the right to maintain their culture in the middle of a bloody war where the military saw Maya Indians as a threat to the nation. But a woman who didn’t want to dress in traditional clothes and just wear a t-shirt and jeans could be seen as a cultural traitor. So trying to preserve one’s identity is positive, of course, but can also be limiting, inclusion also creates exclusion.” Safety is a subject that continues to interest Maria Stern. In a project together with Joakim Berndtsson she does research on the private safety industry that has started to be more important even for entire countries. “We’re investigating for instance how safety works at Arlanda airport. It isn’t just that Securitas supplies guards that discover threats – they also offer the technology that the safety of the airport is considered to need. Sida uses private companies in a similar way as protection for their personnel, for example in Afghanistan. Today private companies are marketed as safety experts that make threat analyses, risk estimations and offer ‘complete solutions’ to our safety needs. Especially in strong democracies like Sweden there’s otherwise a general idea

“ T h e s e v u ln e r a b le

GUJOURNAL 6 | 2012




that the state should have a monopoly on violence; at the same time private actors are being used more and more, companies that live off our feeling unsafe.” Maria Stern has still another big project under way that has to do with the relation between external and national actors in the defence reform in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The project, in which she’s working together with Maria Eriksson Baaz, Stina Hansson and Fredrik Söderbaum, is being financed by Sida. a country that Maria Stern has returned to a number of times. She developed the idea for a research project in the country that was once called the Belgian Congo together with her friend and colleague Maria Eriksson Baaz, who partly grew up in the Congo and speaks Lingala, one of the country’s five official languages. Together they’ve done research on the widespread violence that has characterized the past decades’ civil wars and conflicts. “Earlier, rape in war was of course something everyone knew about but that was thought mostly to be unfortunate events that happen in a conflict. That this abuse has more recently begun to get attention as a part of actual warfare is largely thanks to Margot Wallström’s involvement in the UN. And it’s of course very important that sexual violence is finally being seen as a war crime, but the focus on it in the Congo has lessened interest in other violence committed against the people, such as looting, executions, torture, forced labour and force recruitment into armed groups. The greatest problem for women there is often poverty in itself, but since relief efforts are earmarked for sexual violence, there’s no support for the ones who have lost their homes, for example.” Between 2005 and 2010, Maria Eriksson Baaz and Maria Stern carried out a research project where over 230 Congolese military personnel were interviewed about their view of military identity, masculinity, femininity, sexual violence and what it means to be a good soldier. Most of the interviews were held by Maria Eriksson Baaz, who lived in the Congo at the time, but Maria Stern also did field work. Among other things, their research showed that sexual violence hadn’t generally been ordered from above.

Maria Stern Occupation: Professor of peace and development studies at the School of Global Studies; also member of the steering group of the Gothenburg Centre of Globalization and Development. Family: Large: husband, two children and four stepchildren in Gothenburg, mother and brother in New York, father, brother and sister in Geneva, and sister in Boston. News: She is participating in the seminar Why do soldiers rape? During the Swedish Forum for Human Rights, November 12–13 at Svenska mässan.

The Congo is

“ T h e r a p e s h av e to be put in relation to all the other violence that this new army, which grapples with many problems, is guilty of; it doesn’t have to do with individual events that can be studied in isolation. And the international help organisations’ attempts to deal with the violence cause mostly frustration. For example, the soldiers are given three-day courses in human rights to learn that rape is wrong, as though they didn’t know that. In that way, the idea that the Congo is the Heart of Darkness, a place inhabited by barbarians, is confirmed.” Violence in the Congo has a number of causes, the long conflict and the spiralling violence it has created, the decay of the state, the problem of creating an army that can protect civilians, but it also has to do with the view of masculinity and femininity.

Current projects: Security for Sale: Perceptions of Threat among Private Security Companies with Joakim Berndtsson, financed by Vetenskapsrådet. Stemming Violence against Civilians? Effective External Security Sector Reform in Conflict/Post-Conflic Settings–the case of the DRC, with Maria Eriksson Baaz, Stina Hansson and Fredrik Söderbaum, financed by Sida. Studying the Agency of Being Governed with Stina Hansson and Sofie Hellberg. New book: Together with Maria Eriksson Baaz she will soon publish Sexual Violence as a Weapon of War? Perceptions, Prescriptions, Problems in the Congo and Beyond. Interests: Primarily family, relatives and friends but also sailing, running and reading novels. Most recently read book: A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami. Most recently seen film: Cosmopolis. Favourite food: Big American Sunday breakfasts. Strength: Communicative. Weakness: Optimistic about time.

to be killed d n a ll i k o t pared both e r p l victims e a b i t o t n e s t a o h p n s a a m »A e described r a n e m o w d in war an rotected.« p e b o t e r a t tha “It’s among other things our ideas about gender that makes the military work: a man has to be prepared both to kill and to be killed in war and women are described as potential victims that are to be protected. When a female soldier also uses violence it gets more problematic. Abuse by women is explained away by its dealing with a single crazy individual or by its simply being her personal problem.” P e ac e a n d development research is a complicated area where it isn’t always simple to decide what’s right or wrong, Maria Stern points out. “Moral is a set of rules for how one should behave. Ethics is something else. Ethics deals with confessing the difficulty in not always knowing what is right but anyway trying to have an idea about it and stand for the limits one sets. You can’t do anything more but try.”

Sweden is a small country. There are certain advantages in that. “It makes it easier for researchers to get attention than for example in the USA,” says Maria Stern”. “For instance, much has been written in the media about our research on sexual violence.” R e s e a rc h , supervision and teaching take a lot of Maria Stern’s time. When she’s free, she devotes her time primarily to her large family. “When I’m in Gothenburg I like to sail; the archipelago is one of the best things about Sweden. But each summer we go to my father’s summer house on Fire Island outside of Long Island in New York. My family is so spread out. I have relatives in New York, Boston and Geneva. But during the summers we try to fit into my father’s little house and hang out with everybody.” 


GUJOURNAL 6 | 2012


photogr aphy: Johan Wingborg

»We do the opposite and invite ­professional musicians to come to us, both Swedish and international.«

Our students are not only experts in their instruments but also know how to work in projects, says A ­ nders ­Köllerström.

Top level orchestra Individually they perform top level. But during the program they’re also trained to function in a larger group. The international Master’s program in orchestra and its orchestra, led by Anders Köllerström, is receiving the University of Gothenburg’s Cooperation Prize. T h e t wo -y e a r international Master’s program in symphony orchestra at the Academy of Music and Drama is celebrating its ten-year birthday. The jubilee also means a change of name for the orchestra, from the Swedish National Orchestra Academy (SNOA) to University of Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. “The program consists of 45 students but can be expanded if necessary, either by students from the candidate level or with students from music academies in different countries that we work with,” explains Anders Köllerström. “But we also cooperate with other orchestras, primarily Göteborgs Symfoniker and GöteborgsOperan, and this makes us unique. The usual thing is otherwise that the students get to practice in professional orchestras. This means that only a few can practice at one time and that

they always have to do the same thing, for example playing second fiddle. We do the opposite and invite professional musicians to come to us, both Swedish and international. That gives much greater opportunities for students and is also appreciated by our guest musicians; those who have been here like to return. The school also employs interesting guest teachers, such as the world known pianist and conductor Christian Zacharias.” G öt e b o rg s Sy m fo n i k e r ’ s previous music director and an honorary doctor of the University of Gothenburg, Guastavo Dudamel, is another important guest teacher. “He feels that music isn’t just entertainment but also has to do with finding a content of existence. That’s why he’s given inspiration for El Sistéma in Angered, an orchestra program that the students from our program will cooperate with starting this autumn.” The labour market for a musician is international, which is reflected by the students coming from different countries. “About half are from the Nordic countries

and the other half from the rest of Europe, although a few also come from other parts of the world,” says Anders Köllerström. “This autumn we have students from thirteen countries, which means an invaluable international contact network.” Each academic year has eight orchestra productions and one opera project with a total of about twenty public performances and concerts. Starting this autumn, regular guest performances will be held in Sweden and abroad. The education program also prepares for graduate work. I n N ov e m b e r , Anders Köllerström is invited to speak at the University’s Enterprise Day. “I’ll explain that our students aren’t just experts in their instruments and in orchestra but also in leading and working in projects. The students have very great and long experience of working toward a goal and performing together with others; at the same time that they maintain the highest level in their individual work. Our students know a lot about music but they know very much more as well.” Its new name, University of Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, emphasises its belonging to the University of Gothenburg. “When we’re out playing, in Sweden or internationally, we put the University of Gothenburg on the map,” Anders Köllerström points out. “I think we’re a big asset for the University but the University is also an asset for us. And we would very much like to cooperate with different faculties, to the joy of all parties.”

Eva Lundgren

Cooper ation prize: The orchestra program with its orchestra, University of Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra with Anders Köllerström as education leader, is receiving the prize for having promoted the orchestra to an internationally prominent position and because the program and the orchestra have become an important part of Gothenburg’s music life and a significant contribution to spreading the reputation of the University of Gothenburg.



Why is religion so important in the American presidential election? Can a person who is not an explicit Christian be elected president? GU Journal ­asked Åke Sander, professor of behavioral studies of religion, why religion ­has b ­ ecome more and more important.

GUJOURNAL 6 | 2012


text mikael Olofsson  |  Photography Johan Wingborg


e li g i o n a s ideology and symbol has a large and growing significance. 56 per cent of the American voters say that religion is very important for how they will vote. It’s more important than economic issues and more important than many other things. The importance of religion has increased by 10 per cent in the last 8 years, so in that sense it’s important.”

»Most Americans don’t vote ­according to economic issues. They vote according to politi­ cians’­moral message.«

Why has it become more important?

“It partly has to do with Ronald Reagan’s time as President. He put a lot of emphasis on moral questions and flirted very much with those who call themselves the “moral majority” who became a large part of his electoral base.” Was that because of Reagan’s own religiousness or because he discovered that it was a very strong voter group?

“I think that he was pragmatic, like most politicians. They want to win and they make their political analyses to see what seems sensible to bring into the light. It was obvious that the US experienced these trends at that time after their having been less important during the 1960s. The other explanation for the increasing importance of religion is related to September 11 and how people identify themselves as Americans after that. Identities are always relational. They are something a person is NOT in relation to what others are. During the Cold War, a person was NOT a communist. People identified themselves then instead as a capitalist and freedom fighter. It swung over after September 11, 2001, so that now people are NOT Muslim. With having accentuated the enemy in the form of Islam, it has become more important to emphasise the Christian faith.” But even if Americans see USA as a Christian nation, does the majority want religion to be important in politics or do they think it should be a private matter?

“I don’t know if it’s the majority but the “Christian right wing” is a large and growing group. They argue for interpreting the Constitution from a biblical perspective; that the Bible should be the foundation of the country’s politics. So, what does that mean? Well, if you ask me, I’d say the same as Max Weber – you can get whatever you want out of the Bible. There’s no interpretation that’s dominant – it has to do with time and place how you interpret it. According to some people, you should beat your wife and children every day to be faithful to the Bible. You shouldn’t do that according to others. But if you go and ask whether the US should base its values on biblical foundations, you can probably get a majority that says yes.” But Christianity in itself isn’t written into the Constitution. The Constitution says clearly that no one religion should be given favour over others.

“Yes, but the Constitution is also something that can be interpreted in two

ways. There’s a big discussion in the US about whether it should be interpreted literally or intentionally. Some people read it given the historical place and time in which it was written. Others read it literally, which means that exactly what is written also has to apply now. But at the same time freedom of religion in the USA is very focused on stopping federal powers from interfering in religious organisations’ life and living. It’s the reverse in Sweden. It’s written here to prevent religious organisations from interfering with State activities.” What’s the reason for that difference?

“It has to do with our having had a State church for several hundred years where the State had a religious monopoly. The State appointed priests who could then be on an equal footing with State officials. That makes it impossible to have freedom from the State influencing religion. However, great care was taken that religion wouldn’t influence the State.” Can that explain why it’s so difficult to get political points if you’re an explicit Christian in Sweden when it’s so diametrically the opposite in the USA?

“Yes, in part, but I think there are a lot of explanations there. Sweden was very uniform as late as until the 1800s. You couldn’t belong to any other church than the church approved of by the Swedish State. It was only in 1951 that you could leave the church without joining another denomination. The idea was also established early that the important thing in all political contexts was where you stood in the wallet issue, in other words the right/left scale. You should be represented by your group via institutions that negotiated economic distribution. There was a conflict, unlike in religion. If everybody belongs to the Swedish church, religion is politically uninteresting.”

identified themselves by their religious belonging, if you were Catholic, Protestant and so on. It was ethical and moral questions that were important, which it is today too. Most Americans don’t vote according to economic issues. They vote according to politicians’ moral message.” Is it possible to be elected President in the US if you’re not an explicit Christian?

“It depends on what you mean by Christian. We have Mitt Romney, who’s Mormon. Now there are some investigations that show that only 60 per cent of voters know that he’s Mormon. 50 percent of them that know he is don’t consider Mormons to be Christians.” But wouldn’t that be an enormous disadvantage for Romney?

“Yes, if you look at the general disadvantage, but he probably doesn’t lose so much on that account among the Republicans’ core voters.” Why not?

“Because Romney’s moral platform is the classically American. The family is very central, the woman should know her place, people are sceptical about abortion and homosexuals. There’s nothing there that wouldn’t appeal to a Republican. The Mormons also have the advantage that they view the USA as the Christian nation “par excellence”. According to their theory, Jesus took a boat to the USA at the end of his mission and started his first church in the USA, that is, the world’s first church.” But the majority of Christians in the USA don’t believe that, do they?

“”No, but according to the thesis, USA is chosen by God as a nation with a special mission in the world and that’s a thesis that many Americans buy.” How long do you think that the Christian faith will be such an important part of the American self-image?

“It’ll probably continue in the foreseeable future. A great majority, almost 80 per cent, is Christian and all investigations done in the last 10–15 years show that that factor is becoming more and more important for how they judge candidates.”

Åke Sander Age: 63 Occupation: Professor of behavioral studies of religion Born: In Gothenburg

Was Sweden unique in this sense? It feels like that development should have taken place in other countries as well.

Lives: In Gothenburg

“Yes, the larger part of Europe was affected by these socialistic trends. But the USA wasn’t at all affected by it. There, people

Interests: Travelling, reading, the sea, skiing and a little golf.

Family: Wife Sally Boyd and two children


Conferral of doctoral degrees 2012

text allan eriksson  |  Photography johan wingborg

A colourful spectacle

It’s flashy, glamorous and grand. Heavy by tradition but still a little innovative. What is it? The conferral of doctoral degrees on Friday, October 19. Ov e r 8 0 0 s p ec tato r s have seated themselves in the congress hall to acknowledge new PhDs, honorary PhDs and prize winners. The academic procession starts at exactly 3 pm to music of the Finnish-Swedish composer B Crusell. The Vice-chancellor marches in first, led by flag and scepter, toward the lighted stage. All the others follow according to a determined order.

spectacle. Two and a half hours is of course a long time, but it doesn’t feel like it – much because of the artistic setting, led by Ronnie Hallgren. By focusing on what is happening on the stage with sound and pictures, it’s easier to keep step. Musicians and actors from the Academy of Music and Drama come up from the audience. Presenter Jenny Ellegård starts to speak: “There’s a suspicion that the solution to the world’s puzzle is there,” she says while pointing to the big screen showing a picture of the main building of It i s a co lo u r fu l

Maria Sundin received this year’s prize in education and Lars Gunnar Andersson was awarded Pro Arte et Scientia.

the University of Gothenburg, looking like a palace. “Get the lord chancellor and the deans right away,” actor André Nilsson cries out and Jenny runs to bring Pam Fredman to the stage. The theme this year is Vision 2020, which the Vice-chancellor speaks of in her introductory speech. However, she first talks about last year’s doctorate conferrals when Minister of Education Jan Björklund sat next to her. “I took the opportunity to give the Minister some advice that it’s high time to raise basic funding for research and to safeguard free research driven by curiosity.” Some of her wishes must have come true since the Government

is now investing four billion crowns in research. At the end of the ceremony, Mikael Benserud, chairman of the University of Gothenburg’s student unions, gave a captivating speech based on the current date. hundred years ago, October 19, 1512, was a big day for a person known to question the established order. That was when Martin Luther defended his thesis and gained his doctor of theology. Five years later he nailed his theses onto the door of the cathedral in Wittenberg. This industrious woodworking is the origin of the tradition that most doctoral stu-

“ E x ac t ly fi v e

Doctor al conferr als in num bers: A total of 102 PhDs were conferred, five jubilee doctorates and 17 honorary doctorates. A number of prizes were also given to persons who had made valuable efforts for the University.

dents have followed: the nailing up of the thesis. The ceremony is without doubt a well-directed and colourful spectacle, every small part of which is thought out and calculated in seconds, so there’s no time for anything that isn’t planned – possibly with the exception of the academic choir that sang an extra, short tribute to knowledge, “I Östern stiger solen upp” (the sun rises in the East). The traditional processional march out of the hall followed and there was a big mingle party in the congress hall, where delicious canapés and sparkling wine were served. According to tradition, the evening ended with a banquet and dance.

GU-Journal no 6 2012  

The abridged version of our staff newspaper. November 2012.

GU-Journal no 6 2012  

The abridged version of our staff newspaper. November 2012.