Begärets lagar: moderna statliga utredningar och heteronormativitetens genealogi

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


The thesis consists of an analysis on how Swedish Government Official Reports (SOU) and their definition and handling of homosexuality, intersexualism, and transsexualism. Questions concerning the legal definition of a human subject, of human desire and human bodies are central to these reports, and hence the focal point of the thesis is how these definitions are reproduced and altered during the 20th century.

The legal changes which these reports and committees have resulted in, is usually positioned in a context where the Swedish government is supposed to have abandoned a repressive penalty system for a politics of welfare, based on tolerance and equality. The perspective of this thesis is, however, different and more critical. Through a genealogical method, inspired by Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault, this assumed development is scrutinized in order to consider differences and similarities between the reports. Focus is on continuity and change regarding the reports? definitions of sex and desire.

Through an application of Judith Butler's definition of the heterosexual matrix, the thesis emphasizes what has been excluded from the reports, as well as what has been reproduced. In this context, the psychoanalytical concept of abjection, plays an important part for the understanding of what has been foreclosed and why it is being foreclosed. In a similar way, the concept of interpellation is applied in a second analysis of the same reports to be able to examine how the reports name deviancy and, perhaps most importantly, why they name deviancy in a particular mode.

In a final chapter the conclusions from the preceding analysis are used for a discussion on the interdependence of identity based politics and a capitalist organization of society. By applying Wendy Brown's use of nietzschean ressentiment and moralism, the thesis reaches the conclusion that late modern identity politics, based on a rhetoric of "democracy" and "equality", considerably obstructs other political agendas that are not dependant on assumingly stable, constitutive, heteronormative subjects. A connection is hence made between the governmental stress on sexuality as based on (nothing but) gender and the governmental discourse on democracy as based on (nothing but) liberalism.


  • Sara Edenheim
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • History


  • heterosexuality, homosexuality, intersexualism, transsexualism, equal rights, liberalism, abjection, interpellation, ressentiment, moralism, genealogy, Gender studies, Genusvetenskap, Legal history, Rättshistoria, Theory of history, Contemporary history (since 1914), Historieteori, gender, desire, Nutidshistoria (från 1914), Human rights, Mänskliga rättigheter
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2005 Dec 10
  • Brutus Östlings Bokförlag Symposion
Print ISBNs91 7139 732 9
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2005-12-10 Time: 10:15 Place: Historiska institutionen, sal 3 Magle Stora Kyrkogata 12 a, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Rosenbeck, Bente Title: Professor Affiliation: University of Copenhagen ---