I was born in 1951 in Malå, a small community in the north of Sweden. After many years of working as a medical secretary, I began my studies at Umeå University where I received my doctoral degree in ethnology in 1990. During 1997 I was Director of the Center for Women´s Studies and I also held a professorship (pro tem) in gender studies. I became a professor of ethnology in 1999 and in July 2005 I was appointed Dean of the Humanities Faculty. Prior to this appointment, I had served on many boards and committees at both faculty and university level, including the University Board of Directors, of which I was a member between 1999 and 2005.
In addition to being Dean, I also worked as the director of the National Graduate School of Gender Studies rom 2001-2006. I also co-ordinated the development of a research programme entitled Challenging Gender which run from 2007-2012 at Umeå Centre for Gender Studies. During the years 2005-2010 I was appointed by the Swedish Research Council to chair its Committee for Gender Research. From 2008 to 2012 I was a national representative in the Expert Group of EIGE (European Institute for Gender Studies) in Vilnius.
My research has chiefly been focused on gender studies and gender theory. My doctoral dissertation in 1990 was on gender and occupational culture in the Swedish postal service, and in subsequent books and articles I have dealt with issues such as friendship, hostility, family and gender, academic culture and gender and genealogy within the disciplinary history of ethnology. My latest book (2006) analyses grief and mourning following fatal accidents.
I also have a great interest in Cultural Studies as an interdisciplinary and theoretical field and I am a member of the board of ACSIS (Advanced Cultural Studies Institute of Sweden) and of the board of SCAS (Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study).
My current research is situated in the field of Medical Humanities and concerns cultural perspectives on contagion, epidemics and vaccination. My research project “Epidemics, Vaccination, and the Power of Narratives” is financed from Stiftelsen Marcus och Amalia Wallenbergs Minnesfond.
During years 2016-2018 I am a member of the board of the Swedish Research Council. I was also awarded Umeå University´s Medal of Honor in 2016.