Decolonial critique, knowledge production and social change in the Nordic countries (DENOR)

Research project
Active research
Project owner
Department of Social work

Short description

The research network Decolonial critique, knowledge production and social change in the Nordic countries (DENOR) provides a decolonial perspective on knowledge and education in the Nordic countries. As an articulation between racism, capitalism and patriarchy generated through the processes of domination that became globalized in the wake of colonialism, coloniality (as the legacy of colonial knowledge and relationships, as well as global politics, geopolitics and world-colonial/modern system) continues to produce structures of inequality that render people as non-existent. DENOR addresses coloniality’s social, political, epistemic and ontological production of absences, and their connection to contemporary problems connected to knowledge and education in the Nordic countries, as well as examine how these may reproduce or be complicit wit

Our ambition

Our ambition with the network is to create a generative environment for researchers who study racialization, social exclusion and alternatives to the existing order from the perspective of the margins of the existing social order. As such, the network will foster alternative knowledges, which contrast to existing research that often takes the perspective of the state, and thus runs the risk of naturalizing dominant ideologies and augmenting the marginalization that research participants are experiencing. Inconsequence, thedecolonial perspective includes a strong ethical component inasmuch it invites research to work from the knowledge/resistance of the colonial “Other” as part of epistemologies and politics of emancipation and liberation.

Making social impact

The social impact of research is a key issue in responsible research and innovation, and should be taken seriously also in the social sciences. Specifically, the production of knowledge about groups of people inevitably produces the conditions of interpretation that i.e. racialized minorities meet in the everyday. The decolonial perspective starts from the histories and the socio-economic locations of the people who are marked as not belonging, or not really belonging to the Nordic societies, despite their legal position as citizens -- ornot recognized as citizens at all (as in asylum seekers).


The decolonial perspective does not investigate groups of people commonly associated to social problems (ex. migrants, refugees), but how social problems themselves are configured historically and from a global outlook (ex. global political economy, coloniality of knowledge, radical democracy), and localized in different but interconnected places. This is a historical understanding of the construction of power/knowledge that questions the centrality of the European gaze, gained in part by Europe’s geopolitical colonial expansion and conquest. It is a gaze that today still constitutes patterns of colonial domination and control of the population of the modern nation states. For the proposed project these ethical imperatives mean that people and issues that are subjected to the lasting effects of the colonial power are part of the network and knowledge production we propose.