Elisabet Björklund

elisabet-bw2Björklund was a postdoctoral researcher at the Department of History of Science and Ideas at Uppsala University 2016–2019 and is currently Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at Lund University in Växjö. She earned her PhD from Lund University in 2013 with the dissertation The Most Delicate Subject: A History of Sex Education Films in Sweden. Her research is focused on sexuality and reproduction in Swedish film and television history, and she is co-editor (with Mariah Larsson) of Swedish Cinema and the Sexual Revolution: Critical Essays (2016) and A Visual History of HIV/AIDS: Exploring the Face of AIDS Film Archive (2019).




Mediating reproduction: Medicine, pregnancy and fetuses in Swedish film and television, 1960s–1980s

This subproject examines representations of reproduction in Swedish film and television during the time period from the 1960s to the 1980s. In the 1960s, major changes in the attitudes towards sexuality and reproduction took place in Sweden, which eventually lead to political reform in many areas. For example, abortion on demand was introduced in 1975 after big debates on the issue during the 1960s. At the same time, the media landscape changed significantly, not least with the expansion of the new medium of television. The aim of the project is to explore the intersection of these two developments by analyzing how ideas about medicine, pregnancy and fetuses have been constructed and communicated in audiovisual media and what role these representations have played in public debates and discussions. Through a number of case studies of theatrically distributed films, television programs of various formats, and educational films from the period, the project investigates questions related to the relationship between medicine and different media forms, the uses of images of fetuses in audiovisual media, women in film and television production, abortion narratives, and representations of disability.

Publications and presentations:

• ”Waiting for abortion: Narratives of passing time, decision-making and late abortions in Swedish TV theater of the late 1960s and early 1970s”, included in the special issue ”Die biologische Uhr”, Body Politics – Zeitschrift für Körpergeschichte, vol. 8, no. 12, 2020, 108–134. Full text

Swedish sex education films and their audiences : Representations, address and assumptions about influence“, in Solveig Jülich & Sven Widmalm (eds), Communicating the history of medicine : Perspectives on audiences and impact, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2020.

Freedom to choose: Reproduction and women’s agency in three Swedish films of the 1980s“, in Ingrid Stigsdotter (ed.), Making the invisible visible: Reclaiming women's agency in Swedish film history and beyond, Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2019. Full text.

Omstridd information: Maj Wechselmanns Omställningen och kritik mot kommersiellt material om att få barn på 1970-talet“, in Fredrik Norén & Emil Stjernholm (eds), Efterkrigstidens samhällskontakter, Lund: Mediehistoria, Lunds universitet, 2019. Full text

• “Realism or 'grotesque clichés'? Jan Halldoff's The Corridor and the Swedish debate on abortion in the 1960s“, Journal of Scandinavian Cinema, vol. 9 no. 1, 2019, 117–130. Abstract

• "Medical programs on reproductive health in Swedish television of the late 1960s and early 1970s", paper presentation, Tele(visualising) Health: Television, Public Health, Its Enthusiasts and Its Publics, London, Great Britain, February 27-March 1, 2019.

• "Att stå emot informationen: Maj Wechselmanns tv-dokumentär Omställningen och information om graviditet, förlossning och föräldraskap i 1970-talets Sverige", paper presentation, Svenska historikermötet, Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden, May 8-10, 2019 (Title in transl.: "Resisting the information: Maj Wechselmann's TV documentary 'The Change' and information about pregnancy, childbirth and parenthood in Sweden of the 1970s").

• "Feminist representations of pregnancy in Swedish television of the 1970s", paper presentation, The Coming of Age of the Public Fetus: Exploring Pregnant and Fetal Bodies in Visual Culture, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, May 15-17, 2019.

• “The abortion debate in Swedish television of the 1960s and 1970s”, paper presentation, European Network for Cinema and Media Studies, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3, Paris, June 29-July 1, 2017.


The Coming of Age of the Public Fetus: Exploring Pregnant and Fetal Bodies in Visual Culture, an international workshop at Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden, May 15-17, 2019, co-organized with Solveig Jülich and Helena Franzén. Read more

Email: elisabet.bjorklund@litt.lu.se