Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies

A principal research environment at Linnaeus University with focus on colonial and postcolonial interactions between cultures.

About us

The Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies focuses on how cultures have interacted as a result of colonial expansion. Postcolonial studies is a broad subject which spans many research fields. The researchers analyse meetings and clashes between different cultures and identities, primarily in relation to the expansion of Western rule during and after the colonial era. Historically, we have often been presented with the conqueror's version of what happened. One of the aims of this research team is to reconstruct the past and analyse the present, based on postcolonial theories which take into account multiple observers and new approaches. This should lead to a more multifaceted and balanced view on both history and the present.

What is Concurrences?

The past and the present are full of concurrences. Events happen simultaneously in the same place as well as in different places, and are interpreted differently by those who experience them. But what does this really mean to researchers of the humanities?

Of all the things that happen simultaneously in each place, what do we report? According to the theory of relativity, concurrences are perceived differently depending on who the observer is. The same could be true for historical observations. Who decides which events are important enough to be written down in the history books? Which observers are we going to use? Are we going to use Linnaeus' notes about Swedish Lapland, or do we use the observations of the Sami people? Can different versions coexist?

The past and the present

The group has chosen to focus on colonial and postcolonial interactions between cultures because to this day, the world is shaped and characterized by colonial relationships. This has, for example, affected our notions on what is civilisation and what is barbarism. Colonialism has also given us concepts such as the First world and the Third world, North and South, and other notions that still control how we as human beings think and act in relation to different parts of the world. Furthermore, colonialism coincided with Europe's technological and economic advance, which meant that mainly European voices prevailed in historical writing, literature, the arts and science.

– We are laying a puzzle with the fragments that were salvaged from the past but it is impossible to cover everything that has happened, according to former director Gunlög Fur. We are trying to make sense of it all – to form a coherent picture which can tell us something about what it was like to live in times before our own. The difference with a jigsaw puzzle we buy in the shops is that it is not always obvious how the pieces of reality fit together. And we do not have all the pieces either. Some bits are missing and other bits may belong to a different puzzle altogether. The pictures we put together can also be interpreted in many different ways.

The research team is involved in various activities. The team members carry out research and publish both individually and as a group. They regularly attend conferences and often hold internal research seminars as well as lectures which are open to other researchers, students and the general public. The team's work will result in joint publications regarding the concepts of colonial archives, voices and claims, and time and place.

The individual researchers in the team also aim to find new ways of presenting. They wish to explore ways to present their material in a completely different way, using the modern technologies available today – a far cry from the old, dusty timelines and diagrams found in traditional history books.

Archives, voices and claims

The eleven researchers in this team base their work on a series of common theoretical concepts, and carry out empirical studies which each in their own way map and interpret different contemporary claims on reality, experiences and meaning in various times and locations. The team's researchers come from a number of different academic disciplines, and the centre's projects will be carried out both individually and in groups.

– We wish to preserve individual research, says former director Gunlög Fur. We believe the centre can benefit from not organizing all projects in the same framework, so that the researchers do not all focus on the same issues. It would go against the whole idea of diversity if we were to reduce everything we do to a single issue. Practically speaking, the team effort means that we meet regularly and that we monitor each other's research results.

All projects relate to three fundamental sets of concepts: colonial archives, voices Native Americans on Archaeologyand claims, and time and place. The team consists of experts on literature, art history, history and ethnogeography. Research covers a wide geographical perspective, including the analysis of voices from Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and the USA. The authority traditionally ascribed to archives is questioned when the researchers deal with issues concerning voices in history and fiction, in comics and cartoons, in documentary and political texts, and in pictures and digital media. These voices – which are traditionally excluded from or marginalised in the archives – also question the archives' alleged objectivity and shows their gaps and omissions. Location and time are fundamental categories which define meetings between individuals and groups, and between people and animals. It is these meetings the team will analyse. The researchers are also looking into issues concerning gender, national narrative and contemporary orientalism, and question the seemingly transparent categories of nature and culture.

A humanistic research hub

The Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies has the ambition to expand and establish itself as a humanistic research hub for postcolonial studies, not just at Linnaeus University but also in the greater academic world. The researchers feel it is important to open up to the society they are studying. This means they will engage in a continuous dialogue with the international research community and wish to communicate the projects' issues and the research results with the society around them.

News & Events

Research visits 2018

The Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies hosts guest researcher visits for 2018 of 1-3 months for scholars in the Humanities and in the Social Sciences with a focus on postcolonial and decolonial studies. The aim is to contribute to a deeper understanding of how voices and narratives become structured culturally and politically, in the meeting between scholars and their sources, in the formation of colonial archives, and in cultural encounters.

The position as guest researcher is non-salaried. The Centre can provide funds to cover travel and accommodation costs and will also provide office space

Applications must be sent to the Centre no later than May 15, 2017.

Ongoing projects

Ongoing research projects

Individual projects

Linda Andersson Burnett is working on two projects. She is writing a monograph about how Carl Linnaeus's writing on the indigenous Sámi people influenced eighteenth-century British thought. Together with Bruce Buchan at Griffith University, Linda is also working on a transnational project (funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond) which analyses the relationship between Linnaean natural history, stadial theory and colonisation. She will soon commence a third project on the collection of Sámi artefacts in seventeenth and eighteenth-century Holland and Britain. This project is part of the research programme Collecting Sápmi: Early Modern Globalisation of Sámi Material Culture and Contemporary Cultural Heritage (funded by the Swedish research council).

Gunnel Cederlöf heads two research projects.The India-China Corridor This project studies the formation of polities in the region that connects India and China, conceptualised as the India-China Corridor, during the formation of the British Empire in Asia. It focuses on two related aspects: the role of natural conditions and the impact of human mobility in the geopolitically sensitive and highly volatile Corridor. It takes a long-term view across the intermediate and transformative century 1820-1920 when the British and Chinese empires expanded their influence in this region. Through historical enquiry, the project investigates the larger region as characterised by mobility. It poses urgent questions about the causes of intra-regional migration, the formation of rights, and socio-ecological conditions.The project is funded by the Swedish Research Council during 2016-19. Collaborating partners: Prof. Willem van Schendel, Amsterdam University, Dr Mandy Sadan, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, Prof. Arupjyoti Saikia, Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati, Assam, och Prof. Dan Smyer Yu, direktor för Center for Trans-Himalayan Studies, Yunnan Minzu University, Kunming, Yunnan.

Huseby i världen. The Linnaues University Library archives holds a large collection of the Huseby Iron Estate. New historical documents were recently found in the attic of the manor, whereby the Joseph Stephens collection could be added to the Estate archives. Joseph Stephens became the owner of the estate in the 1860s - a period of economic recession. His investment originated in India, where he worked as a sub-contractor for railway construction in post-rebellion British India. On leaving India, he brought all the documentation of his work with him to the estate - not to be found again until 2006. Research in this this unique historical material revises our knowledge of 19th century Småland and ties together the history of Småland County, southern Scandinavia, India, and the British Empire.The project is funded by the Kamprad Family Foundation during 2017-19. It is carried out in collaboration between the Linnaeus University and the Huseby Estate (Huseby Bruk AB).

Torun Elsrud is involved in the project "Negotiations in court and equality before the law: An ethnographic study of how culture, ethnicity, gender and age are negotiated during trials about 'street related crime'", financed by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences) between 2013 and 2016, and linked to Malmö University. The project has been developed with an additional study of linguistic interaction and simultaneous parallel narratives in court by Elsrud's participation in, and financing from, Concurrences.

Barzoo Eliassi's current research engages with conceptions of immigrant integration and racism among social workers in Sweden. Eliassi investigates how social workers in Sweden frame discourses about immigrant integration and tackle the issues of racism and anti-racism in their institutions and the wider Swedish society. The empirical data is based on 22 interviews with social workers from four different Swedish cities who have considerable experiences of social work with immigrants. Eliassi is also working on a research project that investigates statelessness and political belonging among members of nations without states, with a particular focus on Kurds and Palestinians in diasporic contexts (Sweden and UK). In his research about Kurdish migrants in Sweden and the UK, he focuses on diasporic narratives of Turkish assimilation policies and practices and the ways Kurdish migrants deal with lived experiences of assimilation and cultural hegemony. Moreover, he is working on how Kurdish migrants in Sweden and the UK conceive the emergence of Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq and the ways political ideologies of Kurds in diaspora affect their views and relations to the autonomous Kurdish region.

Peter Forsgren will complete a monography about the decolonization of Norrland (northern Sweden) as theme and method in Olof Högberg's novel Den stora vreden (The Great Wrath) and Ludvig Nordström's novel Petter Svensks historia (The Story of Petter the Swede), which will be published as a book. A new project abour Swdish travel literature from the 1920s and 1930s will be started and a first article will be finished by the end of the year. Forsgren is co-editor for an anthology in English based on the research within the LNUC Concurrences and for an issue of the journal Culture Unbound.

Gunlög Fur has 3 project running.
1. Oscar Jacobson and Stephen Mopope: Swedes, Indians, and American modernity In 1929 five Kiowa Indian students enrolled in the Fine arts program at Oklahoma University, among them Stephen Mopope. This study investigates his encounter and interaction with Swedish-born Professor of Fine Arts, Oscar B. Jacobson, who tutored the Kiowas and promoted their art. It probes the ways in which 'primitive' and 'modern' structured their possibilities, and how intersecting webs of race, culture, class, and gender positioned Scandinavian immigrants and Native Americans.
2. Captain Jack's Riding Whip
At the Ethnographic Museum in Stockholm visitors may view a riding whip that once belonged to the Modoc Indian leader Captain Jack. In 1872-73 he led his people in a war against the United States. The aim of the study is to follow the whip from an intercultural exchange between a Swedish immigrant and an indigenous leader to its contemporary place as an object of cultural consumption. How did his riding whip end up in Sweden and what can it reveal about how Swedish interest in Indians contributed to formulations of Swedish modernity?
3. Walking through history – reconciling the past for future society Building on a project developed in Richmond, Virginia, this initiative seeks to identify processes of reconciliation that necessitate dealing with conflicted memories and experiences of the past through engaging concretely and physically with history.

During 2016, Kristina Gustafsson leads a pilot study called Småland as stage for the world's reception of refugees 2015–2016 at the department of social work at Linnaeus University. The starting point for the project is the fact that in the autumn of 2015, Småland, being a region in Sweden, received more refugees and migrants than ever before. During the autumn of 2015, emergency solutions were required, while now, in 2016, the region instead faces more long-term challenges. How can the different authorities and organisations in society, but also individuals, work to meet challenges relating to schooling, leisure time, family, care, education and work? What can some municipalities, particularly those that are very sparsely-populated, and those who have received large numbers of refugees, do to prevent that the refugees move to the larger cities?
The pilot project aims to document different experiences of the reception, carry out research on this material, spread knowledge through museum pedagogy and exhibition activities, and to develop education for in-service training within the area of reception of refugees and migrants. The project is funded by grants from the university's committee for societal driving force. The pilot study has two main objectives. Firstly, the aim is to establish a project structure for collaboration between Linnaeus University, Kalmar County Museum, Kulturparken Småland and the county administrative boards of Kalmar and Kronoberg. A management team has been put together with representatives from these organisations. The project management team meets five times during 2016 and focuses on the task to formulate and write an application for further funding for a more extensive and long-term project. Secondly, the aim is to start documenting different experiences of the reception of refugees and migrants in both counties. This will be done by having four reference groups, two in each county, meet three times per group during the autumn of 2016. The groups have representatives from:
1. Government authorities like the Public Employment Agency, the Migration Agency, and the Police.
2. Municipal services like health and welfare, schooling, HVB homes for unaccompanied children and young people, child and elderly care.
3. Private entrepreneurs that operate refugee accommodations and HVB homes for unaccompanied children and young people.
4. Idea-based and voluntary organisations respectively, such as the Red Cross, women shelters, Save the Children, IM, and the Swedish Church.
The reference groups' meetings have been documented, both through recording and in writing. The material from the reference groups forms the basis for the questions, regarding the reception, that are asked in the more extensive project application. One such question is: What is a dignified reception? Linnaeus University Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies plays a key role in the project by linking the project's cultural studies effort, primarily represented by the museums, with the humanities and social sciences efforts, represented by the project's research group with the subjects of social work, Islamic studies, and cultural sociology.

Hans Hägerdals main project within Concurrences concerns the encroachment of Dutch and Portuguese colonialisms in the 19th and early 20th centuries, based on colonial archives and local materials. During 2014 this will result in an (approved and forthcoming) article in the periodical Wacana, and a paper presented on the conference Svenska historikermötet in May 2014. The project is related to the following three publication projects.
Book project about Savu. Together with Dr. Geneviève Dugggan, ISEAS, Singapore, I write a monograph about the Island of Savu, Indonesia. It is a study that integrates historical and anthropological aspects on an island's past which is described by oral traditions as well as colonial sources from 1600 onwards. The book will be finalized in the course of 2014 and published by ISEAS.
Anthology about women on Timor. An anthology with historical and social scientific perspectives on gender and women on Timor, edited by Sara Niner, will include an essay about traditional woman leadership which is co-written by myself and Douglas Kammen, NUS, Singapore. It is reckoned to come out in 2014.
Anthology about sources on eastern Indonesia and Timor-Leste. I presently negotiate with IIAS, Leiden, to publish an anthology about the critical use of historical, linguistic and anthropological sources for the study of eastern Indonesia and Timor-Leste. 11 contributions will be included if the proposal is approved. I will be the editor of the book which is planned to appear in 2015.
Textbook project on historical perspectives. A textbook for university use is planned by Henrik Ågren, Linköping. It will be a collection of essays on perspectives on history, where I will write an essay about global history writing. The book will appear in 2014 or 2015.

Johan Höglund's research is concerned with the relationship between imperialism and popular culture. He investigates primarily three interrelated national and temporal settings: 1. The late Victorian and Edwardian period with particular emphasis on the British popular writer Richard Marsh, author of the cult gothic novel The Beetle (1897).
2. The long history of American popular culture with particular emphasis on the post-9/11 period. He has written extensively on violent computer games and on the way that gothic and horror narratives negotiate moments of US imperial crisis.
3. The current revival of the Nordic gothic novel. With the realisation that the Nordic region also took part in global and local colonial endeavours, new Nordic gothic can be understood as a form reaction to the dismantling of Nordic exceptionalism but also a cultural space where past colonial histories and new Nordic identities are negotiated.
The concurrences concept has guided investigations into all of these settings. A general claim by Höglund is that the violent and often gothic narratives he studies always imagine the meeting of concurrent and competing voice as a violent confrontation. This confrontation is rarely resolved in these narratives. The notion of hybridity that is central to much postcolonial study is often given a shape and a body, but it is seldom seen as a form of resolution to the catastrophic meetings that war and gothic stories describe. Rather, these stories typically imagine the presence of concurrent voices as, at the same time, deeply troubling and impossible to resolve.
Johan Höglund is the co-editor of The Transnational and Postcolonial Vampire: Dark Blood (Palgrave MacMillan, 2012, with Tabish Khair) and the sole author of The American Imperial Gothic: Popular Culture, Empire, Violence (Ashgate: 2014). He is currently co-editing a collection on animal horror film for Palgrave MacMillan, due to be published in 2015.

Kristina Myrvold arbetar sedan 2015 med projektet "Religion i skyttegravarna" som undersöker produktion, distribution och användning av religiösa miniatyrskrifter för sikhiska och muslimska soldater från Punjab som kämpade för den brittiska armén vid västfronten under första världskriget. Projektet är grundat på arkivforskning och fältstudier i Europa och Indien och finansieras av Vetenskapsrådet (2015-2018). Hon är också en av redaktörerna för den kommande Brill's Encyclopedia of Sikhism och arbetar på olika bokprojekt om religion, teknologi, och tryckhistoria i Sydasien.

Piia K. Posti's current research considers the travel narrative as a form of postcolonial critique. She contributes to the Concurrences' upcoming special issue for Culture Unbound with an article on Sven Lindqvist's Exterminate All the Brutes and Terra Nullius: A Journey through No Man's Land.

Within the centre, Jonas Svensson carries out research on, for instance, rhetoric and practice in public Swedish Islam-critical discussion. His approach is inspired mainly by theories on how human thinking works in a broad sense. These theories contribute with models that seek to explain and, to some extent, also predict success for different rhetorical forms regarding discussions about Islam and Muslims as a danger and something unfamiliar and unwanted in Swedish society. Of particular interest for Svensson's research is how people's emotions affect their thinking and acting. Research on emotions is relevant when, for instance, discussing how to scientifically modify the concept of islamophobia, to make it applicable also in an academic context, and not only in political rhetoric. Linked to his research on criticism of Islam, Svensson is currently investigating what can be denominated the psychology and social psychology of sanctifying and sacrilege, with focus on Islam.

Margareta Wiktorin Wallin is presently doing research on artworks shown at the Dak’Art, the biennial exhibitions of contemporary African Art in Dakar 2008, 2010 and 2012, and preparing for taking part of Dak’Art 2014. See Concurrences’ blog 2013-10-29, (http://blogg.lnu.se/concurrences-samtidigheter/blog/blogg/preparing-for-dakart-2014/)

Emilie Wellfelt has in 2014 two projects running. One is to finalize my PhD thesis - situated in an eastern Indonesian island called Alor the thesis investigates contact zones between local and global understandings of history and heritage. Parallel to this I am working on the documentation of Ujir, an endangered language-culture system, at the University of Cologne in the DoBeS project Roos & ruins: A project to document the Ujir language of the Aru Islands. The next period of fieldwork takes place in late fall 2014. One conference is on the agenda: the Textile Society of America's 14th Biennial Symposium in Los Angeles 10-14 September. I am presenting a paper called The secrets of Alorese 'silk' yarn: Kolon susu, triangle trade and underwater women in Eastern Indonesia.

 

 

 

Staff

Team members within Linnaeus University

Team members within Linnaeus University

Advisory Board

Concurrences' Advisory board consists of leading scholars within postcolonial studies, and studies of colonial encounters, and represent different academic disciplines:

Elleke Boehmer, Professor of World Literature in English at Wolfson College, Oxford University.
Diana Brydon, Professor in Globalization and Cultural Studies, University of Manitoba.
Ashleigh Harris, Associate Professor of English Literature, Uppsala University.
Stefan Helgesson, Professor of English Literature, Stockholm University.
Ann McGrath, Professor of History and Director of the Australian Centre for Indigenous History, Australian National University.
Maria Olaussen, Professor in English, University of Gothenburg.

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