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About me

I am docent / associate professor and currently appointed head of the division of occupational therapy.  I am a guest professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University (Japan) and have an research affiliation to Stockholms Sjukhem in Stockholm.  In an attempt to balance work, rest, and play, I enjoy to spend time with family as well as cycling, ceramics, traveling, and training Aikido.

Research description

My research has had a primary focus on occupation and participation intersected with identity, disability, and culture.  For example, I am interested in the meaning of growing older after international migration and what global migration does to local ideas about aging in place…or how mechanisms work that exclude people from the labor market and how this can levied through alternative approaches.  I am also interested in concepts of prevention/promotion, currently being applied in a project concerning primary prevention of stroke with an occupational perspective in focus.  I draw on various methods often stemming from a naturalistic and participatory paradigm and include narrative inquiry, ethnography, and photovoice.

The past decade has given way to several changes in perspectives regarding healthcare research related to people living with disabilities restricting participation and inclusion in society. An earlier focus on providing rehabilitation in an institution is shifting to preventive programs and home-based interventions.  This shift is based on ample evidence that engaging in a repertoire of occupations (everyday life) in natural environments enhances health.  However, restrictions in participation/inclusion can occur for myriad reasons, such as social exclusion, being a minority, and disability among more.  Of relevance is to identify barriers to participation, appropriate measures, contextually relevant interventions, the development of a conceptual language grounded in the voices of the people each area concerns, and finally a relevant dialogue between theory and practice.  The principle focus of my research is to: (1) identify and explore current and relevant hinders for participation and inclusion, rooted in society and healthcare arenas, and (2) to contribute both theoretically as well as practically to an interdisciplinary body of knowledge in order to improve quality in healthcare practices as well as methodological approaches within research.

Selected publications in occupational science:

Bratun, U., & Asaba, E. (2008).  From individual to communal experiences of occupation: Drawing upon Qi Gong practices.  Journal of Occupational Science. 15(2), 80-86.…


Asaba, E.  (2008).  Hashi-ire: Where occupation, chopsticks, and mental health intersect.  Journal of Occupational Science. 15(2), 74-79.…


Asaba, E. & Wicks, A. (2010).  Occupational Potential.  Journal of Occupational Science. 17(2), 120-124.…


Sakiyama, M. Josephsson, S., & Asaba, E. (2010). What is participation: A story of mental illness, metaphor, and everyday occupation. Journal of Occupational Science, 17(3).…


Asaba, E. & Jackson, E. (2011).  Social ideologies embedded in everyday life: A narrative analysis about disability, identities, and occupation.  Journal of Occupational Science, 18(2), 139-152.…


Johansson, K., Rudman, D., Mondaca, M., Park, M., Josephsson, S., Luborsky, M., Asaba, E. (2013). Moving beyond ‘aging in place’ to understand migration and aging: Place making and the centrality of occupation. Journal of Occupational Science. 20(2), 108-119.…


Farias, L., & Asaba, E.  (2013). “The Family knot”: Negotiating identities and cultural values enacted through everyday occupations of a migrant family in Sweden. Journal of Occupational Science. 20(1), 36-47.…


Fischl, C., Asaba, E., & Nilsson, I. (2017). Exploring potential in participation mediated by digital technology among older adults. Journal of Occupational Science.


Jonsson, H. & Asaba, E. (2017). Aktivitet som begreb i aktivitetsvidenskaben. In Kristensen, H.K., Back Schou, A. & Mærsk (Eds.): Nordisk aktivitetsvidenskab. København: Munksgaard.


Asaba, E., Josephsson, S. & Jonsson, H. (2017). Vedenskabsteoretisk, filosofisk og teoretisk grundlag for aktivitetsvedenskaben. In Kristensen, H.K., Back Schou, A. & Mærsk (Eds.): Nordisk aktivitetsvidenskab.København: Munksgaard.


Asaba, E., Patomella, A-H., Guidetti, S., Kottorp, A., & Tham, K. (In press). Att främja hälsa och förebygga ohälsa genom engagerande aktiviteter: Ett exempel från prevention av stroke. In U. Kroksmark (Ed.): Hälsa och Aktivitet i Vardagen - ur ett arbetsterapeutiskt perspektiv. Sveriges Arbetsterapeuter.

Teaching portfolio

In brief...

I teach in the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral programs.  For the undergraduate occupational therapy students I am responsible for the Karolinska Institutet - Tokyo Metropolitan University exchange with a focus on interprofessional education.  In the masters and doctoral programs I am primarily responsible for conceptual coursework and research methods, with a particular focus on occupational science, narrative, and participatory visual methods.

I am course leader for the doctoral course in observation and visual methods (Course Info).  I also serve as supervisor for students at the masters and doctoral levels. As a guest professor at Tokyo Metropolitan University (Japan), I teach qualitative and visual methods.

Short personal reflection on learning...

I aspire to create an environment where learning is the anticipated outcome rather than a specific product.  I contend that the most sustainable learning happens when it is born from the wishes of the learner, and is both internally and externally rewarded through an increased understanding of a given phenomena or topic.

Aspects of education today, such as learning in a second language or negotiating different pedagogic traditions, challenges the student to find strategies to manage diverse academic endeavors, but it also challenges todays teachers to embrace an ambiguity of not knowing what will emerge when cultures, pedagogic traditions, and multiple languages meet in the contemporary classroom.  Adding to this, is the complexity of the contemporary classroom itself, something that today can be completely virtual. 

Teaching and learning mirrors social change and requires continuous reflection and reconsideration in order to meet the diverse needs of education. Today culture in the classroom (including language, social background, family values, education, gender, among more) has a relevant impact upon the methods that we choose.  Ultimately, creative environments in which students feel encouraged to take risks and embrace challenges facilitate learning.  The teacher has an instrumental role in this context, but not in the form of making unilateral decisions or sticking to all original plans.  A current topic of high priority is what teachers and students can do together to facilitate learning in an environment of diversity.


University of Southern California (2005) - Ph.D. in occupational science 

Springfield College (1995) - M.S. in occupational therapy 

Cornell College (1993) - B.A. in psychology 

Harvard University (1999) - graduate certificate in public health

Academic honours, awards and prizes

National Research School in Healthcare Sciences (2019-2023) grant for doctoral student) - Co-PI

Promobilia Foundation (2016 Research Grant) - PI

Swedish Aging Research Foundation Grant) - PI

Neuro Foundation (2015 Reseach Grant) - PI

Vårdal Foundation Grant (2015-2018) – Co-PI

National Research School in Healthcare Sciences (2014-2018 grant for doctoral student) - PI

Norrbacka Eugenia Foundation 2013 & 2015 Research Grants - PI

The Toyota Foundation 2010 Research Grant (2011-2012) - PI

Center for Care Sciences, Karolinska Institutet  (Postdoc Research Grant 2006)

2004 Penelope Louise Richardson Award (University of Southern California)

International Scholarship 2004-2005 (Phi Beta Kappa Alumni of Southern California - Alpha Association)

2003 Research Award (California Foundation for Occupational Therapy)

Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society (Province 16-USC) (Charter Member (April 27, 2003))

Wilma West Scholarship 2002 (California Foundation for Occupational Therapy)

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