Eva Gothlin was an intellectual historian and an internationally renowned academic who specialised in Simone de Beauvoir. She was the first director of the Nationella sekreteriatet för genusforskning (national secretariat for gender studies) in Gothenburg.
Eva Gothlin was born in Norrköping and grew up in Borås, where she gained her school-leaving certificate. She then studied at Gothenburg university where, in 1991, she gained her doctorate in intellectual history and history of knowledge. She was married to the artist Hans Gothlin. They had two children together, Maud and Hannes.
Eva Gothlin specialised in Simone de Beauvoir from an early stage, and through her doctorate – which was translated into both English and French, she became internationally renowned for her interpretation of de Beauvoir’s main work from 1949, Le deuxième sexe. When she was younger Eva Gothlin spent lengthy periods of time in Paris where she met and interviewed Simone de Beauvoir and became part of a research network centred in Paris. Gothlin’s thesis emphasised de Beauvoir as an independent thinker and showed how her philosophy needed to be read within a wider context than Jean-Paul Sartre’s philosophy. Her thoughts diverged from his in several respects and in the sphere of ethics she was somewhat of a pioneer. Eva Gothlin revealed the three schools of thought that were unified in Le deuxième sexe: Hegelian, Marxist, and existential-philosophical phenomenology. Based on these philosophical traditions she also showed how Simone de Beauvoir explained the emergence of the oppression of women and a possible method to stop it. Eva Gothlin’s doctorate contributed to changing previously held views of de Beauvoir as a derivative apprentice of Sartre’s.
Le deuxième sexe, or Det andra könet as the book is called in Swedish, had grievously suffered in its various translations, not least in Sweden where the first edition, from 1973, only barely covered half of the original work. Eva Gothlin fought for years for a new complete translation of the book. In 2002 it was finally released, including a foreword by Eva Gothlin, who had also scientifically examined the text. This work involved a five-year collaboration with the translators Adam Inczèdy-Gombos and Åsa Moberg.
Eva Gothlin authored the article on Simone de Beauvoir for Routledge’s major philosophical dictionary. She was also the leading member of The International Simone de Beauvoir Society and one of the instigators of an international symposium within the framework of Internationale Assoziation von Philosophinnen (IAPA).
In 1998 Eva Gothlin became the first director of the newly established Nationella sekretariatet för genusforskning in Gothenburg where she established the framework for the enterprise. Its role was to overview and increase the impact of Swedish research and knowledge on gender and equalities within academia and society. In order to examine the already much-discussed concept of gender Eva Gothlin wrote Kön eller genus? in 1999. It is one of the most frequently cited sources within Swedish gender studies.
From 2000 onwards Eva Gothlin worked on a research project which was attempting an intellectual history analysis of friendship, namely “how friendship between a woman and a man has been portrayed and conceptualised in Western intellectual history”. From 2004 onwards and until her death Eva Gothlin was connected to the Institution för genusvetenskap (institute of gender studies) at Gothenburg university where she worked as a researcher, supervisor, and teacher.
Eva Gothlin died in 2006. She is buried at Örgryte Östra cemetery in Gothenburg.