CHCI warmly welcomes Linnaeus University's Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies to its membership, and I'm happy to share this brief but illuminating conversation with interim director Kristina Gustafsson outlining the center's programs and aspirations. — Aaron Fai, CHCI Membership and Diversity Officer
Aaron Fai: What is the current mission of the Centre for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies and how has that mission developed since 2010 when it was first founded as an interdisciplinary project?
Kristina Gustafsson: In early 2010 the Center for Concurrences in Colonial and Postcolonial studies started out as a small and interdisciplinary research group of scholars in English, Literature, and History at Linnaeus University, Sweden. A joint interest was to find new ways to explore colonial and postcolonial histories and literature by introducing concurrences as a methodology and theoretical framework. Situated in a Nordic country, the research group also identified Nordic colonialism as a particular and understudied area that they targeted for further research. There was a commitment to building a long-term research center from the beginning. Expanding the interdisciplinarity and creating possibilities for balanced inclusion of senior and junior scholars were defined as fruitful ways forward.
Today the center has around thirty members from different disciplines employed at Linnaeus University. In addition, the center has an active international guest researcher program that attracts senior scholars, postdoctoral fellows, and a Ph.D. program in Global Humanities with five doctoral students from different parts of the world. Parallel to these expansions, the center´s research goals have changed direction in line with contemporary developments and debates. The center is involved in continuous discussion and activities for integrating new theories and methodologies. However, the biggest change from the start to where the center stands today is its strong focus on contemporary social problems and an engagement with the ways in which historical legacies of colonialism affect peoples lived experience today.
Aaron: What is your Centre’s interest in joining CHCI, and with whom would you like to connect in our global membership?
Kristina: As noted above, LNUC Concurrences is committed to a socially engaged and sustainable scholarship, and being a part of CHCI connects us to other similarly dynamic research communities in the Humanities that are engaged in our contemporary and global world and open to interdisciplinary research. Our world is facing new and emerging challenges and opportunities relating to forced migration, globalization, and the climate emergency. We believe the Humanities have a central role to play in how we understand and address this world. Being a part of a greater network allows us to learn from one other, form alliances and collaborate beyond institutional and national boundaries. We would look forward to connecting with other members who explore issues relating to postcolonialism, decoloniality, indigenous methodologies, migration studies, climate change, and global humanities more broadly.
Aaron: What opportunities and challenges are on the horizon for the Centre?
Kristina: Throughout the last decade, LNUC Concurrences has established itself as a reference in research on Colonial and Postcolonial Studies in Scandinavia and Europe within different areas, mainly Literature Studies, Archaeology, Social Work, Religious Studies, and History. We continue striving for multidisciplinary, transgenerational research, incorporating different voices, and exploring decoloniality thinking and environmental questions that can enrich our common theoretical and methodological approaches and expand Concurrences’ conceptual framework. Our center's greatest challenge relates to the current political radicalization in Sweden and abroad. Most of our researchers engage in highly debated questions important for democracy, such as gender, migration, ethnicity, belonging, and identity. The risk of threats from radical groups might lead to the inhibition of participation of our members in public debates, which is a fundamental part of academic outreach.
Banner image credit: "Mandayuman" (where people live) in watercolor (gouache) on 20 x 30 inches 200 gms water color paper, boyD (1989)