Lecture Series -DIGITAL-

PDF: Announcement

LINK: Report on the Project Start on the FORTHEM Website


Dates + Times (CET) Topic Speaker
22.03., 16:00-19:00

Welcome & Introduction with greeting from Vice President Prof. Stephan Jolie (Mainz)

Structural racism in our societies and in Higher Education:  Key terms and concepts, intersectional frame, state of research

18:15 Exchange session for the project launch

Dr. Sahra Dornick (TU Berlin);
Dr. Pierre-Olivier Weiss & Romane Blassel (University Côte d'Azur)

Sahra Dornick (post-doctorate researcher & lecturer, Technische Universität Berlin, Center for Interdisciplinary Women's and Gender Studies):

Structural racism in our society and in higher education
What is structural racism? How does it work, and what are the possibilities for intervention? This presentation will focus on understanding what characterizes structural racism, how it works, and how it is historically linked to other dimensions of inequality in higher education.  To this end, the concept of structural racism will be introduced, and how racism and other dimensions of inequality are inscribed in our societies and our systems of higher education will be outlined. Important key terms and concepts are explained, and an outlook presents concrete measures of how and at what levels structural racism and other dimensions of inequality can be addressed in higher education.

Sahra Dornick is a research associate at the Center for Interdisciplinary Women's and Gender Studies at the Technical University of Berlin in the Department of Gender in STEM and Planning/Feminist STS. She holds a PhD in sociology and German studies and conducts research on science and higher education, gender and the sociology of knowledge, and ethics. She has critically examined the concept of internationalization in the context of neoliberal science policy and decolonization. Currently, she is working on gender & diversity in STEM, speculative care practices in digitalization contexts, and participatory technology development.

Romane Blassel, Pierre-Olivier Weiss (post-doctorate researchers, Côte d'Azur University, Migration and Society Research Unit - URMIS):

Racism in higher education and research in France : a blindspot in a colorblind context ?
This lecture will present the ACADISCRI research on inequalities of treatment in Higher education and research, which is currently being conducted in several universities in France. It will analyse the specificities of the French context regarding racism studies. By presenting the challenge of implementing this research, the lecture will explore institutional and political issues linked with conducting research on racism in French academia. The lecture will conclude with some results from the ACADISCRI survey, and possible ways forward for research and for action.

Romane Blassel is a sociologist, post-doctorate researcher at University Côte d'Azur (Nice, France) and associate researcher within the Migration and Society Research Unit. Her work mainly focuses on the experience of racism for educated people with a migration background in contemporary France. Her interest about discrimination in academia began with a Master's degree research on linguistic discriminations for international academics (2018). It continued with her participation, since 2018, in the ACADISCRI project on inequalities and discriminations in higher education and research. In 2021, she completed a PhD entitled “(De)constructing race. Socialization and Conscientization of Social Relations among Higher Education Graduates'' in which she analyses the experience of racialization as reported by higher education graduates in France. This research questions the variations in narratives, and highlights the role of racial socialization in the conscientization of race relations. She published an article on the impact of racism on the trajectories of international students (2021). She also participated in a research project on the effect of the racial positioning of the interviewer in qualitative research on the experience of racism (article to be published in april, 2022).

Pierre-Olivier Weiss is a sociologist and post-doctoral researcher at the University of Côte d’Azur attached to the Migration and Society Research Unit (UMR-8245). He is a member of the ACADISCRI project on inequalities and discriminations in higher education and research. He is an associate member of the Mediterranean Center of Sociology, Political Science and History (UMR-7064) of Aix-Marseille University and of the research chair School Wellness and Violence Prevention of Laval University (Canada). He is particularly interested in unequal treatment and discrimination in the school and university fields. He is currently leading the Caribbean School Climate Observatory, a research program on violence and well-being in schools.

05.04., 16:00-18:00 Education as a white space:
Insights from history and educational theory
Dr. Aminkeng A. Alemanji (University of Helsinki);
Dr. Krysztof Jaskulowski (SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warsaw)

Aminkeng A Alemanji (Docent in Sociology, Program Director for the Master of Social Exclusion at Åbo Akademi University)

Apptivism - The Design Process of the First Antiracism Application in Finland


Globalisation in the form of technological advancement and the reach of the internet is transforming the world into a small village. The manifestation of racism has extended online where people can afford to remain nameless/faceless. Thus making the need to situate antiracism interventions in these spaces essential. These efforts are always in constant struggle with the forces it aims to eradicate. As antiracism efforts in and out of school struggle, researchers(Alemanji 2015, 2016, Lentin 2017 2019) antiracism embedded in information technology in the form of an antiracism application could produce positive outcomes in the fight against racism. This chapter focuses on how students in one international school critique existing antiracism mobile phone applications. Their critique is used as a base to develop a prototype for the first antiracism app in Finland born from the concepts of Participatory Action Research. The app – Finland without Racism, now available on Android (and by April 5 on iOS), epitomises the possibilities of antiracism as an action-oriented process.

Aminkeng A Alemanji research on issues of race, racism, antiracism and antiracism education. His research focuses on developing different strategies and methods of antiracism education in and out of schools. In January, he launched Finland’s first Antiracism application – Finland without Racism. Besides being a Docent in Sociology with specific expertise in Studies in Diversity, he is currently the Program Director for the Master of Social Exclusion at Åbo Akademi University.

Krzysztof Jaskułowski  (Professor of Sociology at SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warszawa, Poland)

Racism without racism? Dimensions of racialisation in Poland

A self-image of Poland has traditionally portrayed the country as free of racism. Racism has been presented as a problem mainly of Western countries, which had colonies and are still grappling with the legacy of racism that legitimised colonialism. Poland as a supposedly colonialism-free country has not had the problem of racism, which is marginalised in the dominant public and academic discourse. In my lecture I look at recent research which shows that, contrary to these self-perception, prejudice and racial discrimination exist in Poland. I discuss racism understood in individual terms by describing the experiences of migrants living in Poland, as well as discussing research on prejudice against different others, especially in the context of the refugee rights protection crisis 2014/2015. I also demonstrate that this racism must be seen in a broader structural context by discussing the historical conditions of racialisation in Poland, considering different forms of hostility towards others (anti-Semitism, anti-Islamism, anti-Gypsism) and discussing their common underpinnings.

Krzysztof Jaskułowski works as a Professor of Sociology at SWPS University of Social Sciences and Humanities, Warszawa, Poland. He is an historian and sociologist. His research focuses on nationalism, racism, migration, and memory politics. Currently he is working on research project concerning memory politics of anti-communist underground in Poland.

26.04., 16:00-18:00 Discriminating and liberating science: An antiracist perspective on natural sciences and humanities Dr. Amma Yeboah (Specialist in Psychiatry & Psychotherapy, Cologne);
Dr. Leo Custodio (Åbo Akademi University)

Amma Yeboah(psychodynamic supervisor, specialist and senior consultant in Psychiatry & Psychotherapy)

Intersections of Gender, Class and Racism in (Mental) Health Care

Evidence of dominance and exclusion can be found by analysing the structures, institutions, ideologies, and histories of our society. Discriminatory practices and experiences in everyday life, and especially in institutions of higher education mirror various aspects of structural violence in our society.

A growing body of scientific research concerning the determinants of health shows the effects of Gender, Class and Racism on health. An example of this research is the data regarding the risk of morbidity, such as higher risk of hypertension, higher risk for poor mental health outcomes, and low birth weight of infants in populations that experience Racism, as well as the risk of mortality.

The discussion focuses on the consequences of societal inequity for health with emphasis on mental health and their implications for awareness and/or recognition of institutional violence in the academy as a determinant of health. Subsequently, the importance of addressing structural violence in Universities as a tool for health literacy will be addressed.

Amma Yeboah, MD, PhD, is a psychodynamic supervisor, specialist and senior consultant in Psychiatry & Psychotherapy with a focus on gender-sensitive, psychiatric psychotherapeutic care. As a lecturer and adjunct professor at several universities, she focuses on intersectional perspectives in medicine and psychotherapy. In socio-political terms, Amma Yeboah is interested in the effects of dominance structures on the collective psyche.

Leo Custódio (postdoctoral researcher at the Minority Profile of Åbo Akademi University)

Fostering Sociological and Political Imagination in Class: An Interdisciplinary Experience with International Students in Finland

In this paper, my objective is to critically demonstrate how the combination of self-reflexivity, critical pedagogical methods, and formative assessment can foster both “sociological imagination” (Mills, 1959) and “political imagination” among future critical thinkers in and out of academia. For that, I reflect about my experience teaching the course “Communication, Media Activism and Social Changes” to local and international students at Åbo Akademi University, Finland. The goal of the 8-week course is to reflect, together, about the relationship between communication practices in activist initiatives and social changes. For that, each student – of various disciplines, degrees and levels of experience in academia – has to identify a “case study” consisting of initiatives they know in contexts with which they are familiar. Each week, following the sample analysis I provide in class, the students explore different themes regarding their cases: contextualization, media activist practices, public sphere conflicting dynamics, and the possibilities and limitations of social changes. Throughout the course, students produce weekly texts (e.g. learning diaries) in which they apply assigned texts to theorize and deepen their own knowledge about the case they chose. By describing class experiences and presenting feedback statements from students, I argue that teaching sociological and political thinking with respect for students’ subjectivity and knowledge is a very effective way to counter the effects, in higher education, of generalized misinformation and the widespread mistrust in science.

Leonardo Custódio is a postdoctoral researcher at the Minority Profile of Åbo Akademi University. He is also a founder of the Anti-Racism Media Activist Alliance and the Activist Research Network. Currently, Custódio is also a member of the board of directors at the international NGO Witness (witness.org). Email: leonardo.custodio@abo.fi.

10.05., 16:00-18:00

On the way to racism-critical universities in Europe: best practices, dangers, perspectives

Final discussion

David M. Hoffman; Quivine Ndomo; Heidi Säänti (University of Jyväskylä)

Carmen Carmona (University of Valencia

David M. Hoffman; Quivine Ndomo; Heidi Säänti (University of Jyväskylä)

Whose Job is Social Justice in Higher Education? Everybody’s or Nobody’s?
What We Talk About, See and Hear in Finland’s Higher Education System, What We Miss and Why


To engage and navigate social justice challenges like structural discrimination within Finnish higher education (FHE), there are seven issues that are below our radar in terms of evolving values, policies, and practices. These interrelated issues currently obscure transnational complexity increasingly recognized across global higher education yet remain invisible within many national settings. Understanding 21st century complexity is crucial if social justice within and beyond the academy – because of the academy – is to remain an evolving aspiration of FHE. Our article emerged from interdisciplinary dialog between Finnish-based scholars and artists exploring tensions between aspiring next generation leadership and present-day strategic leadership in FHE.

Post 2020, in the wake of global protests against structural racism and the legacy of colonialism, FHE still cultivates a profile of “equality and equity”, even while avoiding serious critique of both structural racism and neocolonialization within academic work, particularly across the top of hierarchies in FHE. In 2022, many leaders in FHE might claim equality and equity are important principles, currently guiding institutional, organizational, and professional policy and practice. That said, the authors theorize many leaders making this claim will not be able to convincingly argue that social justice within FHE currently applies to all of Finland’s populations or just some populations.

The tension we zoom in on, May 10th is “Social Justice, for all” versus “Social Justice Bingo for all”. This facilitated visualization was designed to provide actionable engagement with leadership teams who may believe social justice for all remains foundational to FHE and is integral to principles, policy, and practice: top to bottom.

Our original artwork allows us to both ask and research if it is easier to locate leadership teams unwittingly playing ‘social justice bingo’ and creating underserved populations in contrast to “EUNICORNS” or teams whose practices will survive sociological critique grounded in the historical legacy of FHE and the role it played in the 20th century, when Finnish society was internationally distinguished by the relative absence of underserved populations.


Adjunct Professor David M. Hoffman is the Co-Team Leader of the Migration, Mobilities and Internationalization research group (miNET) at the University of Jyväskylä, FINLAND. David is a Senior Researcher (Ph.D. – Social Sciences), at the Finnish Institute for Educational Research and the PI of the EUNICORN Program of Research and Development.

Quivine Ndomo is the Co-Team Leader of the Migration, Mobilities and Internationalization research group (miNET) at the University of Jyväskylä, FINLAND. Quivine is a Researcher in the Social and Public Policy Unit and is the Project Manager of the EUNICORN Program of Research and Development.

Heidi Säänti is the CEO of Family Creatives, an advertising agency specialized in graphic design. Heidi is a member of miNET, specializing in Facilitated Visualization and is currently working on her Master’s degree at the University of Jyväskylä, FINLAND.