Professor’s portrait: Sociology captures life as it is

Studying how people function in social contexts and how different structures characterise social life has been the focus of Marta Cuesta’s research for many years.

“I want to contribute solidarity and to continue to research within my subject. There’s no other discipline that can go in and capture life as it is.”

Marta Cuesta

“I’m fascinated by seeing and explaining that social life is changing. This is the great potential of sociology, to be able to show that societies are not static. There are opportunities to influence, change and make progress.”

Marta Cuesta has been working at Halmstad University since 1996. Her research is two-pronged – on the one hand she has devoted a lot of time to exploring societal changes within the framework of Sociology, on the other hand she is conducting research in the field of Gender Studies, and especially on the visualisation of gender dimensions and norms in society.

“There are also a number of different associated areas that I’ve been interested in where Sociology, for example, supports processes of change linked to civil society. I want to highlight how prevailing norms characterise social life with regard to how individuals are formed in the search for recognition and well-being.”

Marta Cuesta’s first research project was about an Afro-Brazilian group and the role of women in the creation of a religious world view.

“It was actually one of the first theses in Sweden to deal with the issue of ethnicity, even though the group was outside Sweden.”

Studies feminist activism

Her latest research project is about feminist activism in Sweden today, in which she has studied seven different groups and how they relate to various power issues.

“This particular study was very rewarding and exciting, not least because it raised issues about how much responsibility the researcher has in conveying reality. I would say that we have a lot of responsibility in this respect.”

As a Professor, Maria Cuesta hopes to be able to contribute to achieving more empathetic research environments.

“I want to contribute solidarity and to continue to research within my subject. There’s no other discipline that can go in and capture life as it is.”

Marta Cuesta was born in 1954. She pursued first-cycle and third-cycle studies in Sociology at Lund University, where she defended her doctorate in 1997 on a thesis entitled “Flowers to the Ocean. A study of everyday practices, rituals and identity in Candomblé”. Became Docent in Sociology in 2008 and was appointed Professor in 2017. Currently working at the School of Health and Welfare at Halmstad University. She has previously worked as senior lecturer in Sociology and Gender Studies at Lund University, and as senior lecturer in International Migration and Ethnic Relations at Malmö University. Marta Cuesta is a member of several national and international research networks and has had positions including research leader, coordinator of internationalisation projects and gender equality representative. Her research projects are usually based on pure research premises and the development of theoretical education programmes.

Text: Hanna Carmvall
Translation: Semantix