Helena Tinnerholm Ljungberg

Tinnerholm Ljungberg  was a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of History of Science and Ideas at Uppsala University 2016–2019 and is currently a postdoctoral researcher at Karolinska Institute. In 2015 she defended her PhD thesis in political science on how the issue of assisted reproduction was managed and problematized in Swedish policymaking between 1981 and 2005. Among her research interests are the politics of family and reproduction, feminism, and the relationship between politics, ethics, and medicine. In her current project, Tinnerholm Ljungberg aims to map out and analyze the origins and development of the research ethics committees in Sweden.




Regulating reproductive research: The emergence of ethical guidelines and committees in Sweden

This project explores the emergence and institutionalization of medical-ethical research regulation and committees in Sweden, from the middle of the 1960s and onwards. The project is empirically focused on the Swedish medical corps and its self-regulating practices as well as on the ethical pre-review system of medical human research, and how they were discussed by researchers, politicians, and in the public debate in the 1960s and 1970s. Special attention is given to the ethical review process and debates surrounding reproductive research. The main research questions focus on how medical research was represented as an ethical problem, how solutions to these problems were articulated, and how specific values were produced and re-produced in the process.

Publications and presentations:

• (with Solveig Jülich), ”Från medicinskt avfall till rättighetsinnehavare: Framväxten av värdekonflikter kring aborterade foster i Sverige”, Tidskrift för genusvetenskap 40, no. 3–4, 2019, 29–50. (Title in transl.: "From medical waste to rights-holders: The emergence of value conflicts around aborted fetuses in Sweden").

• (with Per-Anders Svärd) “Lives worth living: Swedish debates about fetal and animal research in the 1970s”, paper presentation, (ISHPSSB) International society for the history, philosophy and social studies of biology, Oslo, Norway, July 12, 2019.

• “Regulating research: The origins and development of research ethics committees in Sweden, paper presentation, Research Ethics Committees: Origins, Development and Beyond, Uppsala University, Sweden May 28–29, 2019.

• “Regulating reproductive research: The emergence of ethical guidelines and committees in Sweden”, presentation at seminar organized by Feminist and Critical Studies in Politics, Stockholm University, Sweden, 1 December, 2017.

The trouble of sex: Political debates about prenatal diagnosis and sex-information in Sweden

This sub-project analyses Swedish political debates about sex-information through prenatal diagnosis from the end of the 1980s and onwards. The political debates took place against the background of the Swedish abortion law, which allows women the right to abortion until the end of pregnancy week 18, while prenatal diagnosis may reveal sex-information at earlier stages of the pregnancy. The aim of the project is to explore how access to information about the unborn’s sex has been politically debated and regulated in Sweden. By drawing on theoretical insights from feminist Science and Technology Studies (STS) this project analyses sex-information as a kind of unwanted “trouble” in the political debate.

Publications and presentations:

• (with Lisa Lindén), ”The trouble of sex: Sex-determination, prenatal diagnosis and politics”, Kvinder, Køn & Forskning, vol. 27, no. 1, 2018, 33–45. Full text.

• “Putting feminist STS to work: The political debate about sex-determination of the unborn”, paper presentation at seminar organized by Feminist and Critical Studies in Politics, Stockholm University, Sweden, 9 June, 2017.


Research ethics committees: Origins, development and beyond, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, May 28–29, 2019, co-organized with Francis Lee and Morag Ramsey. Read more

Email: helena.tinnerholm.ljungberg@ki.se