Tensions and Potentials in Nordic Research on Honour-based Violence

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Honour-based violence (HBV) poses multiple challenges for people, society, and politics. It is a serious social and political problem with complex roots, causes and sometimes deadly consequences. It takes multiple forms, carries multiple meanings, and is open to multiple interpretations and definitions. It is a contested academic and political field constructed through various borders and intersections such as nation, ethnicity, gender, age, sexuality, religion, and migration.

In the Nordic countries, HBV has been debated and researched since the mid-1990s. Mainstream public discourse has it as a distinctively dangerous form of violence, linked to religion, migration, and culturally specific notions of honour, and to the failure of minority groups to assimilate to Nordic ideals of gender equality. As such, debates and positionings on HBV have played into the hands of nationalist politics, racist agendas, and right-wing assimilationism.

While Nordic research on HBV problematises processes of migration, minoritisation, racialisation and discourses in the receiving countries questions of how these factors influence HBV are often neglected. Furthermore, HBV has primarily been analysed and explained through either culturalist frameworks or sex/gender frameworks; the literature tends to explain HBV either as a patriarchal problem, or as a cultural problem distinct from other forms of gender-based violence. These approaches treat HBV either as if they migrate with migrants, unchanged across borders, or as the violence is the same on each side of the border. Consequently, the impact of migration across borders of violence is neglected. Further, approaches including meso-level explanations and approaches, including the interactions between micro, meso, and macro levels, are rare. Subsequently, we have an incomplete picture of the roots and expressions of HBV.

We welcome papers from researchers in various disciplines that deal with intersectional theoretical, empirical and/or methodological approaches to the problem described above, in Nordic contexts.


Rúna í Baianstovu is Senior Lecturer in Social work, Örebro University. She has worked extensively on developing concepts and methodologies for studying honour-based violence and social work in her research. She was the research coordinator of the qualitative and quantitative study Honour-Based Violence and Oppression in Metropolitan Sweden (2017-2018) which is the most comprehensive study of honour-based violence in the Nordic countries; she also led the qualitative substudy. The latest publication is Inequalities, isolation, and intersectionality: A quantitative study of honour-based violence in metropolitan Sweden (WSIF, 2021) with Dr. Sofia Strid. She is the author of reports, books (published and forthcoming) and articles on HBV. She is involved with developing knowledge of HBV in cooperation with national boards in Sweden, such as The National Board on Health and Welfare, and The Delegation against Segregation and is a frequently hired lecturer on HBV for authorities, NGOs, and other universities. 

Sofia Strid is Senior Lecturer in Gender Studies, Örebro University. She has held positions as Senior Lecturer and Researcher in Gender Studies, Political Science, Sociology and Women’s Studies in four countries. She has worked extensively on developing concepts and methodologies for theorising, measuring, and preventing gender-based violence and so-called honour-based violence, most recently as Scientific Coordinator of UniSAFE: Gender-based violence and institutional responses (EUH2020, 2021-2024); as PI of Violence Regimes (Swedish Research Council, 2018-2021); and as lead on the quantitative substudy in Honour-Based Violence and Oppression in Metropolitan Sweden (2017-2019). She has published extensively on violence, e.g. States of violence (Journal of European Social Policy, 2021); Undoing the Nordic ‘paradox’ (PLOS ONE, 2021); Inequalities, isolation, and intersectionality: A quantitative study of honour-based violence in metropolitan Sweden (WSIF, 2021).  She is the co-author of The Concept and Measurement of Violence against Women and Men (Polity 2017, lead Sylvia Walby). 

Published Sep. 21, 2021 10:08 AM - Last modified Sep. 21, 2021 2:59 PM