PRIVACY Symposium: Privacy and Colonialism

Jan Huygen van Linschoten, View of the market in Goa (Itinerario, 1596) 
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Privacy and Colonialism 

In the symposium Privacy and Colonialism, researchers specializing in colonial history will interrogate the politics and poetics of privacy, understood historically, in places where indigenous and native peoples were displaced from their land for the purposes of extraction and expansion that benefitted European empires in pre-modern times.

Colonization, as an inherently exploitative process, became crucial for the accumulation of resources, capital, and, ultimately, power, for colonizers. In this process, European colonial empires dominated and subjugated other parts of the world, producing stories of absence, erasure, enslavement and violence. Examining privacy, in colonial contexts, implicates asking questions about how displacement intersected with gender, sexuality, racialization, ethnicity, labour, class, and taste, for example.

This symposium will provide a forum where we will articulate the fluid, and often unbalanced, relationships and negotiations of privacy in colonial environments. It will also provide an opportunity for us to discuss how these negotiations might have affected theoretical discourses in the humanities, social sciences, and arts that deal with these histories:

  • How to think privacy materially in relation to the lived spaces that produce self and society in colonial environments and spaces? 
  • What are the disciplinary implications of using privacy as a critical lens to look at colonialism? 
  • Do private material expressions contest or cross geopolitical boundaries? 
  • Can domestic cultures propose new architectural and spatial outcomes in relation to spatial typologies?

Our aim is to instigate the theorization of privacy across diverse geographical, political and cultural places and boundaries, starting from the assumption that, despite our increasingly fragmented world, we will find significant overlaps in the ways in which people might have sought privacy in their own contexts.

The final program for the symposium will be announced in early Summer 2022, but you can already register to attend the event using this link.

Organizing Committee:

Natacha Klein Käfer (, Natália da Silva Perez ( and Nuno Grancho ( at the Centre for Privacy Studies, University of Copenhagen.