Professor Reiling Serves As Visiting Scholar at Swedish Defence University in Stockholm


From September through December, Reiling was part of the university’s Gender, Peace, and Security research group, where she had the opportunity to further her research on feminism as it relates to international policy.

Gamla Stan

Reiling’s work primarily examined how conflict and peacebuilding affect various populations. For instance, she explored how gender may influence one’s perception of peace, as well as how security policies may be implemented in a manner that benefits real, diverse communities. Reiling believes that different voices must be involved in policy implementation. Women, for example, may offer personal insights into the threat of sexual violence or even the fear or experience of losing a child during conflict. 

With her research group at the Swedish Defence University, Reiling participated in various workshops and events. In particular, she enjoyed a week-long workshop with renowned feminist international relations scholar Cynthia Enloe. Described by Reiling as a “wonderful storyteller,” Enloe encouraged attendees to reflect upon the needs and experiences of individuals when studying global politics. Reiling also attended the Swedish Peace Studies Association conference that was hosted by the university. The theme of this year’s conference was “Peace and Conflict in a Changing Security Environment,” which Reiling found interesting given that one of her subfields is in peace and conflict studies. 

While abroad, Reiling also worked on her book about the United Nations Security Council’s Women, Peace, and Security Agenda in West Africa. The book will concentrate on how UN policy is implemented by women’s groups and activists in the region, and how these groups must manage agenda priorities and donations. 

Reiling had the opportunity to connect with colleagues at other Swedish universities, including the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala. Her networking also brought her to Finland and Denmark, and she appreciated the opportunity to consult with her colleagues about her book. They helped her consider different ideas for her book and test arguments to see if they were persuasive. Reiling also received feedback about the writing and publishing process.  

“Several of my colleagues have already published books,” Reiling pointed out, “so it was a form of informal mentorship.” 

Nordic fall and winter is described by Reiling as “dark and cold and beautiful!” She noted that daytime hours were limited in Stockholm — sunrise was often around 8am and sunset around 3pm — but said she nevertheless enjoyed “sitting in the culture.” She visited Umeä, a city in northern Sweden that boasts a thriving cultural scene, a focus on environmental sustainability, and a large research university. Reiling notes that Umeä is the biggest city near the Sápmi region, which is inhabited by the Sámi indigenous population and spans across northern Sweden, Finland, and Norway. Reiling remarks, “If I had more time [in Umeä], I would have taken cross country ski lessons!” 

Reiling said that she returned to the classroom this semester with renewed energy, and she even has been able to incorporate takeaways from her time abroad into her lessons. In her International Organizations and Law class, she has discussed Finland’s recent accession to NATO and Sweden’s bid to join, as well as how Russia’s war in Ukraine has influenced the national identity of the two countries. 

Reiling also learned more about how societal militarism differs between the United States and Sweden. She notes that despite its more openly gender-equal society, Swedish militarism interconnects with masculinity in a fascinating manner. 

While her time in Sweden was incredibly rewarding, Reiling has enjoyed reconnecting with students.  

“It’s fun to think beyond my narrow projects to what students are interested in and to try and figure out problems alongside them,” she says.