No Rest for the Crip Killjoy: Making the Case for Cripistemologies in Nordic Gender Research


Feminists are constantly rethinking knowledge regimes within as well as outside the academy. We have not entered the university only to gain access to an already existing institution for production of knowledges, but to transform what knowledge production is. Although gender scholars have made significant contributions to knowledge produced around processes of power and marginalisation in Nordic universities, one research field remains seldomly addressed: the ableist bodymind. Ableism is embedded and continually reproduced within academic spaces in general, and in feminist and/or gender research spaces in particular. What does this mean for the accountability and quality of knowledge production in Nordic gender studies?

In 2014, Merri Lisa Johnsson coined the concept cripistemologies aiming to question ”what we think we know about disability, and how we know around and through it”. The notion of cripistemologies deepens the discussion about the role of dis/ability in research topics, in epistemological traditions as well as in the researcher’s position and possibilities. Moreover, it invites to form coalitions between people with experience of different types of disabilities as well as allies. From this position, ableist ideas about the normal body and the normal way of thinking and feeling are criticised and may be exceeded. With this session, we aim to bring this questioning into Nordic gender research. Presenting from three different research projects within the intersectional field of gender and dis/ability studies, we will discuss tensions and potentials for cripping feminist knowledge production within Nordic gender research.


Elisabet Apelmo is a senior lecturer in the Department of Social Work at Malmö University, Sweden, and a visual artist with a PhD in Sociology. With an intersectional perspective Apelmo explores ideas about the body, as well as questions about inequalities and difference. Theoretically, Apelmo combine phenomenology, feministic theory, and disability studies/crip theory with a sociological understanding of structures and institutional processes. She has a special focus on visual methods and analysis and is currently doing research about dance and dis/ability. 

Selected publications 

  • Apelmo, E. & Nordgren, C. (forthcoming 2021) “Still waiting for the hand to be raised. On being crip killjoys at an ableist university”. In H. Egard, K. Hansson & D. Wästerfors: Accessibility Denied, London: Routledge. 
  • Apelmo, E. (2021). What is the problem? Dis/ability in Swedish physical education teacher education syllabi, Sport, Education and Society. 
  • Apelmo, E. (2016). Sport and the Female Disabled Body, London: Routledge. 

Christine Bylund is a PhD student in Ethnology at Ubmejen Universitähta (Umeå University), affiliated with the ERC-project DISLIFE and the Gender Research School at Umeå Centre for Gender Studies. In her forthcoming thesis Bylund explores how changes in the Swedish welfare state over time impacts in possibilities for relationship formations for people with dis/abilities, combining crip- and queer theory in order to produce critical disability studies from a Swedish context. Her work also centres around examining and critiquing epistemological structures of ableism within Swedish academia predominantly through a crip-theoretical intersectional lens combining ethnographic methods such as interviews and autoethnography and ethnographic fiction with theoretical concepts from studies in ableism. 

Selected publications 

  • Bylund, C., Liliequist, E. & Silow Kallenberg, K. (2021). Autoetnografisk etnologi [Elektronisk resurs] en inledning. Kulturella perspektiv - Svensk etnologisk tidskrift. (30:1, 1-6).  
  • Bylund, C. (2020). Crip-femme-ininity. Lambda Nordica, 25(1), 31-37. 

Mikael Mery Karlsson is a senior lecturer at the Department of Gender Studies at Lund University, Sweden, with a PhD in Genders Studies. Mery Karlsson explores changes and continuities within civil society in Sweden, and questions about disability activism and social movements. Theoretically, Mery Karlsson combine a neo-Gramscian understanding of civil society with Crip Theory. 

Selected publications 

  • Mery Karlsson, M. (2020). ”Gå eller rulla – Alla vill knulla!” Funktionsrättsaktivism i nyliberala landskap. [”Walking or rolling – Everybody wants to fuck!” Disability activism in neoliberal landscapes]. Lund: Arkiv förlag.  
Published Sep. 21, 2021 2:11 PM - Last modified Sep. 21, 2021 2:11 PM