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

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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.


Conference20th Nordic Migration Research Conference and the 17th Society for the Study of Ethnic Relations and International Migration (ETMU) Conference
Number20 + 17
LocationOnline (University of Helsinki)
OtherUniversity of Helsinki, Finland,
Internet address

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