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Julia Willén


My primary research interests are in the history of anticolonial thought, colonial modernity, and the ideologies and temporalities of whiteness. Other research interests include historical injustice, south-north relations, and literature.

Temporalities of Whiteness: Nadine Gordimer’s Literary and Non-literary interventions in Apartheid South Africa

My dissertation focuses on the South African author Nadine Gordimer’s literary and non-literary interventions in the question of whiteness during the three first decades of apartheid, in the context of contemporary debates on liberalism, race relations, decolonisation and the future past of whiteness in Africa.

Other research projects

I participate in the artistic research project Wastelands / Descampados, initiated by the visual artist Claudia del Fierro. The project explores the long history of extraction and waste in the (Global) South and its continuation in the present, and takes its point of departure in the Swedish mining company Boliden’s export of 20,000 tons of toxic residues to Arica in northern Chile in the mid-1980s during the military dictatorship.




Julia Willén (2024) 1, 2, 3, 4 Israel is an apartheid state Mana antirasistisk tidskrift, Vol. 1


Julia Willén (2022) Arkivets plats i antropocen Ord & Bild, Vol. 4, p. 43-52


Julia Willén (2018) Vithet vs vithet Glänta, Vol. 1
Julia Willén, Andrew van der Vlies (2018) Reading for hope: A conversation about texts and method Safundi: The Journal of South African and American Comparative Studies, Vol. 19, p. 357-373 Continue to DOI


Julia Willén (2017) Past futures lost: people power of the south as utopian concurrence Contested histories from el Complejo: An anthology, p. 85-96


I teach, supervise and coordinate courses in the Social and Cultural Analysis Bachelor’s programme (SKA), the Global Studies Bachelor’s programme (GS), and the Ethnic And Migrations Studies Master's programme (EMS).

My teaching includes historical perspectives on globality, 20th-century history, citizenship studies, global studies of sex, gender and sexualities, social reproduction theory, and critical perspectives on racism, sexuality, dis/abilities and power.

I also teach regularly at the School of Global Studies at Gothenburg University.

Conference and workshop presentations


Motståndet mot glömskan; minnesarbete och arkiv i Sydafrika samtal med Kristina Hagström-Ståhl, Karavan och Ord & Bild, Göteborg, November, 2022.

The time and place for critical whiteness: Doris Lessing’s African stories Politics of the past: exploring pasts in Zimbabwe’s present, workshop, May 7-9, 2021.

‘Children and Children’s Children’: Failed Messianism in Nadine Gordimer’s Burger’s Daughter Walter Benjamin: Aesthetics, Politics, and the Philosophy of History, workshop, Gothenburg, 13-14 December, 2018.

Black Consciousness och vita liberaler i 70-talets antiapartheidrörelse i Sydafrika Solidaritetshandlingar, dess yttringar och konsekvenser nu och då, Tensta Konsthall, september 2017.

Past Futures Lost: Southern Popular Power as Utopian Concurrence presented at the : Cultural Solidarities: Colonial Modernity, Anti-Apartheid and World-Making Networks, interdisciplinary workshop, Wits Institute for Social and Economic Research (WiSER), South Africa, 3-6 April 2017.

The Weeping Professor Walter Benjamin in Palestine: the Place and Non-Place of Radical Thought, workshop/conference, Ramallah, 7-12 December 2015.

‘The Trials Go on Inside Us Already’: Futures Past of South African Whiteness The Ethos of History, conference organised by the research program Time, Memory, Representation, 10-12 September 2015.

The Tragic Time of Whiteness: History as Remedy and/or Curse in Apartheid South Africa at the international conference ‘Concurrences in postcolonial research – perspectives, methodologies, engagements’ at Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden, 20-23 August 2015

Unsettled Africans: Coloniality, Heritage, Landscapes at the international workshop “Archaeologies of ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ – Debating the Ethics and Politics of Ethnicity and Indigeneity in Archaeology and Heritage Discourse”, Uppsala, 23-24 October, 2013.

Subjects of the Interstices: Home, Belonging, and Heritage in White Settler Societies at the International Conference "Race, Migration, Citizenship: Postcolonial and Decolonial Perspectives'. Birmingham, 7-9 July, 2013.

Fractal pattern from flower


El Complejo: Between Erasure and Remembrance

Screening and symposium co-organised with Claudia del Fierro and Hans Carlsson, Tensta konsthall, Stockholm, May, 2017.

Lecturers: Ricardo-Osvaldo Alvarado, Jennifer Baca, Maria Berríos and Stefan Jonsson.


Walter Benjamin: Aesthetics, Politics, and the Philosophy of History

Workshop co-organized with Nils Olsson and Hjalmar Falk, Gothenburg, December, 2018.