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Ola Sigurdson

Ola Sigurdson, professor of systematic theology, is director of the Centre for Culture and Health. He assumed the position in the summer of 2011 after a year as a visiting research professor at Princeton University (NJ) in the United States.
But what are the forces that propel him and what does he want to accomplish as director?

– First of all I have long been interested in developing the multi- and cross-disciplinary discussion and research. The Centre for Culture and Health provides an excellent opportunity to achieve this, since both culture and health are concepts that concern all the faculties rather than just a particular one. Secondly, I am also hoping to establish – particularly with regard to my background as a theologian who works within a faculty of arts – the international field called ”medical humanities” or ”narrative medicine” at the University of Gothenburg as well. It is an important area for critical reflection.

What is your vision for education at the Centre?
– For us to have established within a few years a continuous activity that brings together researchers and teachers from various faculties and subjects, and for us to have participated in a number of cross-disciplinary projects within the field, acquired research funds and to have started planning some form of education within culture and health.

What is your view of the research field of culture and health?
– At the moment it is at a creative and expansive phase. The field is sufficiently new for it to be possible to establish unconventional collaborations between various subjects, but at the same time it is sufficiently established in order for there to be a good chance of funding for these projects. There is also great interest in what goes on at the Centre for Culture and Health at other higher education institutions as well as in society at large. We also find that similar centre education is being established or has been established at universities around the world.

How did the profile area of Culture and Health spring to life at the University of Gothenburg?
– There were several interacting factors. Gunnar Bjursell – the Centre's early director and professor of molecular biology – was particularly responsible through a number of important initiatives he took, including his advocacy of Sten A Olsson's Foundation For Research And Culture, suggesting that they finance some projects within the research field. He also contributed by editing a book in 2008 on the very subject of culture and health, in the wake of which he held a hearing along with Lotta Vahlne Westerhäll. These initiatives have struck positive chords in society at large and it seems as though the time is ripe for further research within the area.

What are you working on at the moment?
– I am writing two books. One of them describes, in general terms, a philosophy of health and it investigates various concepts of health and corporeality within health care historically, as well as systematically within contemporary society. The other book revolves around humour and religion, discussing the perspective on life that these imply. However, the directorship is time-consuming and I am not rushing these books.

Personal facts

Employment: professor of systematic theology at the Departement of Literature, History of Ideas and Religion
Age: 45
Family: married with two children
Research interests: phenomenology, theology and culture and political philosophy
Driving force: curiosity and stubbornness
Leisure interests: soccer (from the stands), music, film, image art and literature

[Interview by Daniel Brodén and published 2012-01-16]

Contact Information

Centre for Culture and Health

Box 200, 405 30 Gothenburg, Sweden

Page Manager: Lovisa Aijmer|Last update: 1/13/2012

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