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Emma Goldman’s Anarchism and Feminism in a Scandinavian Context

How did Emma Goldman (1869-1940) understand and disseminate the feminist ideas and descriptions of women’s position in society that she found in Scandinavian literature?

About the project

Photo: Unknown. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The relationship between anarchism, feminism and radical Scandinavian literature has received little attention. This project aims to study these connections by considering Goldman’s theoretical work in a Scandinavian context.

Goldman’s theories draw on anarchism, the women’s movement, and Scandinavian thought and literature. She read and wrote about Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) and Augustin Strindberg’s (1849-1912) depictions of women’s position in society. This has also had an impact on the ways in which her thinking diverges from both the traditions of anarchist thought, and the contemporaneous women’s movement. Goldman’s thinking deviates from traditional anarchist thought in that she includes what we would now call feminist perspectives. She is interested in the oppression of women, love, sexuality, and women’s reproductive health and freedom. Goldman’s thinking also breaks with the contemporaneous women’s movement, in that she emphasizes the existential and personal liberation that is at the core of anarchism, rather than gaining rights within the existing system, such as the right to vote.


Studying the connection between Goldman’s thinking and Scandinavian thought and literature has the potential to provide new perspectives on Goldman’s anarchism and feminism, the reception history of selected works of Scandinavian literature, and the development of feminism and the women’s movement in Scandinavia. The thesis will also place Scandinavian feminism and the Scandinavian women’s movement in an international context.


University of Oslo, 2018-2021

Tags: Emma Goldman, Feminism, Anarchism, Henrik Ibsen, August Strindberg
Published Sep. 22, 2020 2:00 PM - Last modified Sep. 22, 2020 2:03 PM