Moving on to Create Equality, Inclusion in the Communities: The Unconventional Gaze

Rashmi Singla, Berta Vishnivitz

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review


Dr. Berta Vishnivetz and Dr. Rashmi Singla
Moving on to Create Equality, Inclusion in the Communities: The Unconventional Gaze
In the last presentations, we zoom on a quest for equality, inclusion in different contexts. In this presentation, we take a point of departure from the works of philosophers and educators as Paulo Freire, Achille Mbembe, Fred Newman, who encouraged development of numerous paths to create equality, inclusion, restituting human dignity among non- privileged groups and academics. Moreover, within a critical framework by anthropologist Laura Nader relating to the West and the rest*, we advocate research endeavors that remain aware of the knowledge/power nexus avoiding the pitfalls of a still existing, earlier mentioned “Orientalism”.
A brief review of the theoretical fundaments of the above three philosophers is made, and how their teachings have and still influence non-privileged communities all over the world. Their teachings are expanded and are still applied: previous contextualization in Europe, Africa and Asia. Examples of projects performed by professionals and voluntaries trained by Freire and Newman are presented.
Advocating research endeavors, we start from a notion of power as a capacity for action, proposing eclecticism and explicit comparisons as methods apt to capture the continuous social transformations that occur as a result of encounters /exchanges between and across cultures/ communities. We appeal to recognize our common humanity by placing dignity, mutual respect, and humility at the center of our relationship with those often portrayed as ‘barbarian others’, invoking connections, similarities, and cross-cultural fertilization processes. Through these examples, we further explore strategies of collaboration with the workshop participants to create a fairer research environment.


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)?

Bibliografisk note

Workshop-titel: "20.Context of Coloniality and the Unconventional Gaze:Challenging the Conventional Gaze in Study of Minorities & the “White Curriculum” in Academia"


  • Paulo Freire, Achille Mbembe, Fred Newman
  • create equality, inclusion, restituting human dignity
  • non-privileged communities all over the world
  • placing dignity, mutual respect, and humility at the center
  • invoking connections, similarities, and cross-cultural fertilization processes
  • strategies of collaboration
  • fair(er) research environment

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