Call for papers: Special Issue "Decolonial Options in Education"



Guest editors:
Kristin Gregers Eriksen, Doctoral Research Fellow, University of South-Eastern Norway
Stine H. Bang Svendsen, Associate Professor, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

How can decolonial options be developed in and through education? In what ways can the decolonial project challenge current practices in the field of comparative and international education in the Nordics? This special issue invites contributions that address the coloniality of education and educational research, and explores ways of thinking, doing and materialising education otherwise.

In recent years, student movements in a number of countries have called for a decolonisation of higher education institutions. The movement for decolonizing the university calls for an end to White and European epistemic privilege, an end to white curricula, and equal access to education without fees (Bhambra et al., 2018). The movement is part of a decolonial project that has been built intellectually over decades, involving a conversation between antiracist and anticolonial scholarship from Latin American sociology, philosophy and area studies, indigenous studies, black studies, feminist and postcolonial studies. In education research, the decolonial project has produced international and comparative scholarship that investigates and critiques the coloniality of education. Coloniality, a shorthand for the coloniality of power, describes how epistemologies and power relations produced through and by colonialism continue to inform present day society (Quijano, 2000; Mignolo & Walsh, 2018). Coloniality can be traced in education through the reproduction of knowledges that continue to justify European and white de facto supremacy on the one hand, and that devalues or erases colonised peoples` subjectivities, knowledges and livelihoods on the other. The decolonial project has crucial implications for the field of comparative and international education, notably through the reconceptualization of globalization and perspectives on global sustainability (Eriksen, 2018). Furthermore, decolonial perspectives highlight the need for work on indigenous and indigenising education in the Nordic region in order to produce decolonising options (Keskitalo et al. 2013).

In the Nordic context, the coloniality of education has been upheld and eschewed by the widespread denial of the colonization of Sápmi, and the Nordic colonial endeavours in in Africa and the Americas (Keskinen & Mulinari, 2009). This denial has been a condition for the production of the idea of the Nordic states as homogenous, White and “exceptional” nation states (Hübinette & Lundström, 2014). Externalization of racism continues to be widespread in the region, which is evident in the problems with developing a vocabulary for race and racism in Nordic public discourses and education practice (Gullestad, 2006; McEachrane, 2014; Harlap & Riese, 2014; Svendsen, 2014). OECD initiatives for international standardization of curricula and the emerging role of corporate multinationals in Nordic public education can be read as symptoms of a recalibration of the coloniality of education. Other facets of colonial power in education in the Nordics is related to the way educational systems and practices produce inequality for migrants and their children, and the role of Nordic countries in educational initiatives in the global South, notably under labels such as “development” or “foreign aid”.

For this special issue, we call for contributions that rethink, question or criticize the dominant epistemological and ontological frames within which current imaginaries and educational institutions are embedded. We invite theoretical and empirical papers addressing decolonial perspectives and education in the Nordic countries through a variety of topics such as inclusion and exclusion, racism, gender and sexuality, indigenous education, political economy, migration, education policy and education as development. Furthermore, we invite papers that address strategies and initiatives for decolonising education or imagining education otherwise, focused on but not restricted to schools and/or higher education. We particularly invite papers undertaking decolonial critiques of the position of Sámi rights, futures and knowledges within educational policy and practice in the Nordics, as well as papers exploring indigenous and alternative knowledge and  theorisations of education.

Deadline for submission of abstracts: August 30th

Deadline for full papers: October 15th

Estimated publication date: May 2020.

 Abstracts of max 500 words to be sent to the guest editors directly ( and Papers based on abstracts approved for development to full papers for this issue, are to be uploaded to the platform directly. See Instruction for Authors on the website.


Bhambra, G. K., Gebrial, D., & Nişancioğlu, K. (Eds.). (2018). Decolonising the university. London: Pluto Press.

Eriksen, K. G. (2018). Education for sustainable development and narratives of Nordic exceptionalism: The contributions of decolonialism. Nordidactica, 4, 21-42.

Gullestad, M. (2006). Plausible prejudice. Everyday experiences and social images of nation, culture and race. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.

Harlap, Y., & Riese, H. (2014). Hva skjer når vi ser farge innen utdanning? Mulighetene ved å teoretisere rase i skolen i et "fargeblindt" Norge. In K. Westrheim & A. Tolo (Eds.), Kompetanse for mangfold. Om skolens utfordringer i det flerkulturelle Norge. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget.

Hübinette, T., & Lundström, C. (2014). Three phases of hegemonic whiteness: understanding racial temporalities in Sweden. Social Identities, 20(6), 423-437.

Keskinen, S., Touri, S., Irni, S., & Mulinari, D. (Eds.). (2009). Complying with Colonialism. Gender, Race and Ethnicity in the Nordic Region. Farnham: Ashgate.

Keskitalo, P., Määttä, K., & Uusiauttu, S. (2013). Sami Education. Bern: Peter Lang.

McEachrane, M. (Ed.) (2014). Afro-Nordic Landscapes: Equality and Race in Northern Europe. London: Routledge.

Mignolo, W. D., & Walsh, C. (2018). On Decoloniality. Durham: Duke University Press.

Quijano, A. (2000). Coloniality of Power and Eurocentrism in Latin America. International Sociology15(2), 215–232. 

Svendsen, S. H. B. (2014). Learning racism in the absence of 'race'. European Journal of Women's Studies, 21(1), 7-22.