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Women in the Swedish Academy: poorly represented and with an uncertain future

Only nine women have occupied one of their armchairs, of which seven do it at present

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Women in the Swedish Academy: poorly represented and with an uncertain future

The Swedish Academy has broken down over last month. This process has culminated in announcement that, for first time since 1949, Nobel Prize in literature will be postponed due to absence of necessary votes. The resignations have taken place during past month of April, and y have now caused ir composition to be reduced to insufficient number of ten members, below twelve that are stipulated as minimum necessary to make a valid vote.

The scandal that has shaken foundations of Academy has been that of multiple accusation of sexual abuse received by Jean-Claude Arnault, photographer and husband of Katarina Frostenson, writer that until a few days ago and since 1992 occupied armchair number 18 of Swedish organism. In addition, latter has also been accused of filtering, since 1997 and repeatedly, results of Nobel Prize in literature to her husband prior to his delivery.

Frostenson was, until middle of last April, one of seven women who integrated an academy that, also until n, was commanded by Sara Danius, permanent secretary since 2015. The resignations of both joined, later, those of his companions Lotta Lotass and Sara Stridsberg, two of youngest members. In addition to all his absences, Kerstin Ekman, who has already renounced her armchair in 1989, after controversy unleashed by death threats received by British writer of Indian origin Salman Rushdie, must be added.

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Ekman, who disavowed of his post n with his companions Lars Gyllesten and Werner Aspenström (both deceased), was nothing less than first woman to enter Swedish Academy, getting in 1978. Given life-long nature of his office, from 1989 armchair that occupies is blocked, just as it happened with Gyllesten and Aspenström until y were replaced, after ir death paths, by poet Kristina Lugn and writer Per Wästberg, Respectively.

Lugn is, in fact, one of two women who still remain in office, along with ologian Jayne Svenungsson, youngest of all current components of organism (born in 1973 and joined armchair number 9 last 2017). Svenungsson has been one of few that has come to crossroads of resignations, as as "destructive for future of academy."

The present presence of seven women among 18 members of same is, in fact, a historical one. The Swedish Academy itself recognizes, on its website, that " female element has been historically limited." In addition to current members, only two or women have been part of it throughout history. They were writer and translator Gunnel Vallquist, who preceded Sara Stridsberg in armchair number 13 between 1982 and her death, in 2016; And writer Birgitta Trotzig, who occupied chair number 6 from 1993 until his death in 2011, when it was replaced by linguist Tomas Riad. Both were strongly linked to Catholic religion in ir literary activity.

The selection process of members of Swedish Academy is made by a closed vote between academics mselves, and this election must be accepted and endorsed later by King of Sweden himself, who holds title of patron of academy. This process must be carried out before vote is made public. The aforementioned fact that charges are, by definition, life-long, increases problem presented after accumulation of resignations last April, many of m carried out by some of younger members.


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