Multicultural and Postcolonial Intersections

The Ph.D. seminar “Multicultural and Postcolonial Intersections” has been running at the University of Turku since Fall 2012. The seminar is taught by Dr. Suvi Keskinen (Social Research/Sociology) and Dr. Johanna Leinonen (General History and the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies). The interdisciplinary seminar brings together Ph.D. students from history, sociology, gender studies, and educational sciences.

The seminar provides a forum for students to present their research on topics related to multiculturalism, postcolonialism, migration, whiteness, and processes of racialization. We discuss how the intersections of race, ethnicity, gender, age, generation, class, and sexuality shape societal and cultural processes as well as identities – both today and in the past. In addition to student presentations, we also read relevant literature related to the course theme. The class discussions thus provide an opportunity to discuss different kinds theoretical works as well as more empirically oriented texts. For example, in one seminar we focused on critical whiteness studies, a field that emerged in the United States in the 1990s as a field of inquiry into the historical, social, and cultural aspects of whiteness as a source of identity formation and socio-historical power relations. We pondered how critical whiteness studies could help understand racism and processes of racialization in the Nordic context.

In December 2012, we organized a two-day seminar titled “Intersectionality, Belonging, and Citizenship,” which comprised of guest lectures and a full day research seminar. Thanks to the funding provided by MCnet, we were able to invite Dr. Irene Molina (Professor of Cultural Geography, Uppsala University, Sweden) and Dr. Umut Erel (RCUK Research Fellow and Lecturer, Sociology, Open University, London, UK) to the University of Turku. Their lectures, which were open to the public, discussed how gender, race, ethnicity, and class shape notions of national belonging and citizenship. In addition to the lectures, Dr. Molina and Dr. Erel generously read and commented seminar participants’ research papers.

The seminar continues in March 2014. Dr. Donna Gabaccia (Professor of History, University of Minnesota, USA), a specialist in international migration history, U.S. immigration and labor history, and gender history, will join our research seminar and give a guest lecture which will be open to the public. Those interested in joining the research seminar may contact Suvi Keskinen ( or Johanna Leinonen (

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