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 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.


6 October 

(Room 6B.0.22 )

17.00 - Mette Birkedal Bruun

Welcome to the Centre for Privacy Studies

17.30 – Yehonatan Elazar de Motta

Nação Legal Consciousness and its Contribution to the Early Modern Dutch Republic Debate on Slavery and Slave Trade

18.10 – Cristiana Bastos

Intersections of Colonialisms, Racisms, and Gendered Understandings of Privacy in 19th century Hawai’i  

 7 October

(Room: 7C.1.19)

13h – Round table on Privacy and Colonialism: facilitators Nuno Grancho, Natacha Klein Käfer, and Natália da Silva Perez

13h30 – Francisco Bethencourt

The Manipulation of Privacy: New Christian Performative Acts at the Inquisition

14h10 – Mads Langballe Jensen

Between Private Mastery and Public Authority: Discussions of Slavery in 18th-Century Denmark

14h50 – Dorothy Antwi Boasiako

Displacement and Constructions of Masculinity among Immigrant Ghanaian Men in Denmark in the 21st-Century

15.30h – Break 

15h40 – Heather Freund

Runaways Slaves Apprehended by Loyal Black Rangers in Grenada in the 19th Century

16h20 – Gunvor Simonsen

Fugitive Routes, Kidnapping and Extradition: A New (Legal) Order in the Lesser Antilles, c. 1820-1840

17h – Closing wine reception

Register to attend the event using this link.

If you are attending digitally, you will be sent a zoom link via the email provided in the registration form. The email with the link will be sent out the day before the workshop. 

Organizing Committee:

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