02 October 2023

For three days, LiU is creating an international arena in Norrköping to discuss how knowledge production is changing in the social sciences. Perspectives have long been drawn from and dominated by Europe - with problematic consequences.

A face painted in different colors.
Alexandr Ivanov/Pixabay

In recent decades, researchers from the southern hemisphere have broadened the social sciences. They have opened up new fields of research and created new concepts that have often challenged the scientific models and theories formed in the West in the early 20th century. 

The new fields of knowledge are often referred to as postcolonial, decolonial or anti-colonial, and they address the question of how knowledge and research are affected by power relations, for example between European and non-European societies, or between majorities and ethnic minorities.

Anti-Colonial Scholarship and Global Social Theory

To raise these issues and discuss the consequences of these changes, a three-day conference is being organized at Linköping University by REMESO at the Department of Culture and Society (IKOS): Anti-Colonial Scholarship and Global Social Theory: An Interdisciplinary Workshop, with support from Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, Kungl. Vitterhetsakademien and LiU Humanities.

Scholars from around the world are coming to the symposium in Norrköping to explore how the ongoing shift in the conditions of knowledge production is disrupting the dominant position of European history and society as a paradigm for the social sciences, and to seek ways forward towards a more complete understanding of the world.

Stefan Jonsson, professor at REMESO are responsible for the conference together with Sujata Patel, the Swedish Research Council's visiting professor in the name of Kerstin Hesselgren, and Maureen Egar, sociologist at Umeå University.

Why is it important to come together and discuss these issues?  Photo credit Anna Nilsen

After the Second World War, anti-colonial movements were primarily concerned with political liberation. Starting in the 1970s, postcolonial studies emerged to understand how the cultures of European, African, Asian and American societies have been transformed by hierarchies, ideas and models of thought that have long justified colonialism and racism. Today's anti-colonial and decolonial research is very much about the recognition of knowledge that has been marginalized, dismissed or misunderstood by Western institutions and traditions, says Stefan Jonsson.

Discussions about the implications of these changes

All participants will have the opportunity to engage in discussions about the implications of these changes, as well as to look ahead to understand how anti-colonial and decolonial ideas can contribute to the definition of a social theory with global validity.

How do you plan to continue working on these issues after the symposium?

Many of us work daily with similar issues in research and teaching, not least at REMESO, IKOS and the rest of LiU. So the workshop will enrich all this, says Stefan Jonsson.

It will also lead to new inspiring contacts and perspectives. A large gathering like this makes an impact on cultural and social research, both in Sweden and internationally.

About the conference

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