Context of Coloniality and the Unconventional gaze: Challenging the Conventional gaze in study of Minorities & the “White Curriculum” in Academia

Rashmi Singla, Berta Vishnivetz, Associate Professor

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review


Context of Coloniality and the Unconventional Gaze: Challenging the Conventional Gaze in Study of Minorities & the “White Curriculum” in Academia Rashmi Singla, Department of People & Technology, Roskilde University, Denmark | [email protected]; Berta Vishnivetz, Institute of Social Work, International Department, Metropol University College, Denmark | [email protected] Inspired by participation in a workshop focused on structurally disadvantaged groups conducting research in a global North context (Shinozaki & Osanami Törngren, 2019), we plan to explore more comprehensively, the dynamics involved in applying an unconventional gaze, both in research by minority researchers and in questioning the “White Curriculum” in academic program.Our approach is informed by Said’s notion of Orientalism (Said, 1977) which identifies exaggerated differences between the East/ South & West/ North, and a perception of the Other as exotic, backward, uncivilized. However, we take this perspective further in order to ensure that minority’s voices are listened to. We also include the concept of epistemological violence in the empirical social sciences (Teo, 2010). This implies indirect and nonphysical violence when the subject of violence is the researcher, the object is the Other, and the action is the data interpretation showing the inferiority or problematising the other, even when data allow for equally viable alternative interpretations. What happens when the Other - the racialised minority - is the researcher or when the “White Curriculum“ is criticised? The colonial history of racialised minorities is invoked in unpacking the contested multiple positions of the minority researcher, especially in conducting research about the privileged majority groups. Historical colonisation processes are examined in a critical review of the “White curriculum” in specific Nordic contexts, which hardly includes the perspectives of the racialised minorities and indigenous populations. Furthermore, concrete illustrations of questioning of entitlement of unconventional researchers e.g. Indian anthropologist Reddy’s classical study of Danish Society (1991) are included. The implications of the unconventional ‘gaze’ on power relations and knowledge production illustrate how immigration, the challenges of adaptation, criteria for mental health diagnosis and citizenship laws are historically based on White Western ideologies and the role they play in shaping and defining some experiences, possibilities and limitations of racialized immigrants and indigenous/ native people in diverse contexts. Moving forward, beyond these problematisations is also a part of the workshop. The format of the workshop is partly open. We aim for an unconventional workshop form, which combines individual presentations and designated discussants followed by interactive round table discussions. After short presentations, we would like to open the discussion to the audience. We also investigate possibilities of collecting the presentations and discussions for a reflective paper and possible publication.


Konference20th Nordic Migration Research Conference and 17th Society for the Study of Ethnic Relations and International Migration (ETMU) Conference (Online)
Nummer20 + 17
LokationOnline (University of Helsinki)
AndetThe Nordic countries have for long perceived themselves as outsiders to colonialism, embracing narratives of the progressive, equality pursuing and human rights defending nation-states that stand out in international comparison (e.g. de los Reyes, Molina & Mulinari 2002; Keskinen et al. 2009; Loftsdóttir & Jensen 2012; Sawyer & Habel 2014). This ‘Nordic exceptionalism’ can be understood as a form of ‘white innocence’ (Wekker 2016), building on willful ignorance of the Nordic countries’ active participation in colonial projects both overseas and in the Arctic region. Neither have the dominant national narratives included histories of racial classification and knowledge production within the region, in which the indigenous people and national minorities were categorized on the lower levels of hierarchy and subjected to intense scrutiny (e.g. Öhman 2015; Lehtola 2012). Modern nation-state formation was built on assimilation and repression of the communities, histories and knowledges that were considered to be at odds with the homogeneous nation. Likewise, migration scholars have generally dismissed the role of Nordic colonial/racial histories when investigating the post-1960s transnational migration, a large part of which originates in the former European colonies in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. This conference aims to provide a platform for discussions in which the colonial/racial past and present (coloniality) are seen as relevant for how diasporic communities, racialized minorities and Indigenous Peoples are encountered and acted upon in the Nordic societies, as well as how these communities resist, question, resurgence, organize themselves and seek for alternative horizons beyond hierarchies. Racial categorisations and structured inequalities characterize the Nordic societies in multiple ways, but are they addressed adequately by migration scholars? How would the national narratives and the politics of solidarity look like, if colonial/racial past and present was taken seriously? Can national narratives be rewritten in a way that incorporates transnational processes and global power relations, or should we rather abandon the aim of (re)writing national narratives and seek to develop more multilayered perspectives, with focus on local/regional/global for example? What is the role of arts in rewriting narratives of belonging, community and history? How do colonial/racial histories and currents order and shape migration policies, bordering practices and ‘acts of citizenship’ (Isin & Nielsen 2008)?


  • Western view on minorities ,
  • consequences for mental health
  • historical review of the impact of colonial dominance
  • Experiences of otherness
  • diversity in higher education
  • Democratizing scholarship
  • critical reflections on the ’white curriculum’
  • Racialized minority as the researcher
  • Challenging epistemological violence
  • Moving on
  • Create Equality, Inclusion in the Communities

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