Call for Papers

20th Nordic Migration Research conference & 17th ETMU conference
12 ̶ 14
 August, 2020, University of Helsinki, Finland


Co­lo­nial/​Ra­cial His­tor­ies, Na­tional Nar­rat­ives and Transna­tional Mi­gra­tion

Nordic Migration Research (NMR) and Society for the Study of Ethnic Relations and International Migration (ETMU) invite ㄎyou to submit an submit of your paper presentation for a joint conference, which will be both the 20th Nordic Migration Research conference and the 17th ETMU conference. The conference, titled Colonial/Racial Histories, National Narratives and Transnational Migration, will take place at the University of Helsinki, Finland, in August 12 ̶ 14, 2020.

The deadline for submissions is February 29, 2020. 

Please submit abstracts of proposed presentations primarily to thematic workshops. You can find a list and descriptions of the workshops here:

If you do not find a suitable workshop for presenting your paper, you may also submit your abstract as a general submission. This selection can be done on the submissions form  (choose ‘none of the above’ for a general submission).

We are also planning a small poster exhibition. In case you would like to present your research in poster form instead of a workshop presentation, kindly follow the instructions for paper submissions but please indicate your choice on the submissions form.

All submissions should include an abstract (max 2000 characters with spaces) and the names, affiliations and contact information of the presenters. The deadline for paper submissions is February 29, 2020.

Selection of the paper presentations and posters will take place by March 30, 2020. Workshop conveners, in collaboration with the conference organizing committee, will be responsible for selecting the papers for workshops.

In case you have further questions, please contact:

In case you have questions concerning a particular workshop, please contact the workshop conveners directly.

Conference Theme: Co­lo­nial/​Ra­cial His­tor­ies, Na­tional Nar­rat­ives and Transna­tional Mi­gra­tion

The Nordic countries have for long perceived themselves as outsiders to colonialism, embracing narratives of the progressive, equality pursuing and human rights defending nation-states that stand out in international comparison (e.g. de los Reyes, Molina & Mulinari 2002; Keskinen et al. 2009; Loftsdóttir & Jensen 2012; Sawyer & Habel 2014). This ‘Nordic exceptionalism’ can be understood as a form of ‘white innocence’ (Wekker 2016), building on willful ignorance of the Nordic countries’ active participation in colonial projects both overseas and in the Arctic region. Neither have the dominant national narratives included histories of racial classification and knowledge production within the region, in which the indigenous people and national minorities were categorized on the lower levels of hierarchy and subjected to intense scrutiny (e.g. Öhman 2015; Lehtola 2012). Modern nation-state formation was built on assimilation and repression of the communities, histories and knowledges that were considered to be at odds with the homogeneous nation. Likewise, migration scholars have generally dismissed the role of Nordic colonial/racial histories when investigating the post-1960s transnational migration, a large part of which originates in the former European colonies in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific.

This conference aims to provide a platform for discussions in which the colonial/racial past and present (coloniality) are seen as relevant for how diasporic communities, racialized minorities and Indigenous Peoples are encountered and acted upon in the Nordic societies, as well as how these communities resist, question, resurgence, organize themselves and seek for alternative horizons beyond hierarchies. Racial categorisations and structured inequalities characterize the Nordic societies in multiple ways, but are they addressed adequately by migration scholars? How would the national narratives and the politics of solidarity look like, if colonial/racial past and present was taken seriously? Can national narratives be rewritten in a way that incorporates transnational processes and global power relations, or should we rather abandon the aim of (re)writing national narratives and seek to develop more multilayered perspectives, with focus on local/regional/global for example? What is the role of arts in rewriting narratives of belonging, community and history? How do colonial/racial histories and currents order and shape migration policies, bordering practices and ‘acts of citizenship’ (Isin & Nielsen 2008)?

The confirmed keynote speakers are:

  • Professor Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, Department of Sociology, Duke University, US 
  • Professor Anders Neergaard, Institute for Research on Migration, Ethnicity and Society (REMESO), Linköping University, Sweden
  • Professor Emerita Gloria Wekker, Department of Gender Studies, Utrecht University, the Netherlands.
  • Marja Helander, Sámi photographer, video artist, visual artist and film-maker