Kristina Gustafsson

Kristina Gustafsson

Associate Professor
Department of Social Work Faculty of Social Sciences
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In my research, I am interested in encounters in welfare settings and especially the use of interpreting and translation. I mainly work with issues of linguistic diversity, social justice and democratic practice with a focus on professional meetings where the parties do not share a language. My background is in ethnology and cultural sciences, where I did my dissertation in 2004 with a thesis on Muslim independent schools and basic values ​​within schools. Since 2008, I have been active as a researcher and teacher in social work.


I have taught mostly on professionally oriented courses and programs at universities since 1997. The emphasis has been on courses on migration and integration as well as scientific theory, research ethics and qualitative methods. For the past ten years, I have mainly given courses in ethnographic method, research ethics and social work with children, young people and families at master's and postgraduate level, both national and international programs.


From 2008 to 2012, I participated in two linked research projects, The Interpreter a Cultural Mediator (RJ) and The Significance of Interpretation for Legal Security and Integration (European Refugee Fund III), which has since continued to shape my research and interest in migration, diversity, social justice and meanings of language. Together with colleagues at Lund University, supported by a large number of interpreters and other actors, we mapped what we call interpreting services in Sweden and the result was, among other things, a book on Interpreted Encounters (2014/2020). The research eventually led to multilingualism and interpreting in social work when we were commissioned by the National Board of Health and Welfare to survey the use of children as interpreters in social services and health and medical care (2018). Another related area that I have also researched is parenting training programs aimed at parents with a foreign background.

Important issues that cut through these studies deal with discrimination, power asymmetries and trust-building practices. Theoretically, I am guided by political and moral philosophy and postcolonial theory, which together enable critical analyzes of Sweden and the welfare society's role as recipients of refugees and migrants in a global world. In recent years, I have had an increasing focus on the relationship between linguistic rights and social justice. In a recently completed project (2020-2022) on Interpreters' skills, Linguistic Justice and Equal Welfare Service (AMIF), we have particularly explored how the unique knowledge of welfare meetings that interpreters have can be used to increase quality and trust in professional meetings where the actors do not share language. In autumn 2023, we will set up a research environment with Linnaeus University as a residence in collaboration with Åbo Akademi in Finland and the West University and Södertörn University. Within the framework of The Nordic Research Environment on Language, Justice and the Welfare State, we conduct a multidisciplinary project (2023 – 2027) Linguistic justice, global migration and the Nordic Welfare State (VR).


I am a member of the Linnaeus University Center for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies steering group and of the Social Work and Migration research group. Together with Jesper Andreasson I am leading the Ethnographic Forum. Since 2014 I have been a member of the Ethics Review Authority, department of other research in Linköping and since 2019 a scientific secretary in the same department. 2023- 2026 I represent Linnaeus university in the board of the Swedish Emigrant Institute


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