Collaborative conference with Ugandan university challenges colonial structures in dance


​​​​​​​A process that completely shifts paradigms and power structures, and requires fundamental organisational change. No less of a task is assigned to the topic of decolonisation, the theme of the conference Decolonizing tertiary dance education: Time to act collaboratively, which is being held in spring 2022 by SKH in collaboration with Makerere University in Kampala. The deadline for conference proposals is 15 September.

Through colonialism, starting in the 15th century, Europe and the West became the dominant hub of power in the world, both economically and culturally. Higher education, not least within dance and dance education, is still marked by the ways of thinking and power structures that were established as part of the establishment of colonial power.

– Dance and dance education have a tradition that has given preference to special bodies, western genres, western-oriented pedagogies and choreographic approaches, as well as western-oriented literature and research, explains Tone Pernille Østern, guest professor at the department of Dance Pedagogy.

Decolonisation, to fundamentally change the material and cultural conditions that still dominate in the wake of colonialism, has gradually become one of the leading sources of theory and activist practices in the last decade.

One important research voice in the field is Alfdaniels Mabingo at Makerere University in Kampala, capital of Uganda. After years of collaboration with him, the Departments of Dance and Dance Pedagogy at Stockholm University of the Arts, together with Makerere University, are now organising an entire conference with decolonisation as its starting point, 7-8 April 2022. And the changes they hope the conference can engender are certainly not lacking in ambition:

– Decolonization requires change of the entire organization; of existing structures that in various ways often support whiteness as the norm or which exclude students with unique bodies and abilities, for example. Therefore, we hope for participation from participants with many different perspectives on dance education, says Tone Pernille Østern.

Deadline for presentation proposals is 15 September, and the organisers encourage students, doctoral students, educators, artists, technical staff, administrators, leaders, and dance educators in the community field to all submit material. They especially look forward to submissions that challenge the existing forms of conferences, which they suggest themselves are part of the colonial paradigm.

– The best thing about this conference is that it provides space for critical perspectives, offering us as individuals and as an institution opportunities to learn and unlearn. We have already noticed this in the conference committee where we have stumbled upon colonial structures that we must beware of not reproducing. The conference challenges, offers an opportunity for change and activism, and it confronts outdated practices, explains Tone Pernille Østern.

Conference committee:​​​​​​​
Rose MartinLena Hammergren, Alfdaniels Mabingo, Tone Pernille Østern, Kristine N. Slettevold, Sylvia Antonia Nannyonga-Tamusuza. 


Submit proposals for the conference

Photo: Andy Day, for DansiT - Centre for Choreography in Trondheim and Mid-Norway (, from the chorographic development project "Where have you been?" by The Urban Playground Team (UK) during Multiplié dance festival 2018. The artistic profile of Multiplié dance festival is on stretching and challenging ideas about dance, choreography and dancers.