Communities of Separatism. Affects in and around separatist artist collectives in the Nordic region

The research project examines how separatist collectives formed by racialised artists and cultural workers challenge and expand the notion of communality in the Nordic region. Separatist practices are encountered, analysed, and reflected as a work for safer spaces and representation, while also questioning the foundations of cultural policy in the welfare state.

B16 is a dance collective of afro-norwegian, female dancers and choreographers based in Oslo © Mckenzie Price


By employing separatism as organizational form – a continuation of feminist and Black practices since the 1960s - collectives of racialised artists and cultural workers seem to complicate the magnetic allure of the Nordic welfare model and its reputation of ‘common good’. Communities of Separatism collects and compares the structural conditions and strategic organisation of separatist collectives in the Nordic region: their selfdefinitions, their cultural production, credit lists, temporalities of working, financial support and (re)distribution, and not least, their affective motivations for assembling.

The research questions are: How do separatist collectives make visible and negotiate notions of commonality in the Nordic welfare states? And, what kinds of affective work is being done by the separatist collectives in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway, respectively?

The summit “Separatist Communities” was held 15-16 September 2022 at Union in Copenhagen and was supported by the Nordic Cultural Fund with participation of seven separatist collectives.

A publication on the findings will be published in an anthology by the Arts Council Norway.



Who belongs to the national ‘we’ if we look at cultural policies in the Nordic region? Central to publicly funded culture in the Nordic region is the accessibility for ‘all’ citizens. Paradoxically, this principle of reception intervenes in the prerequisites of production aesthetics: who can produce for whom? Who feels respresented and invited? Through document analysis and discourse analysis, we collect, analyse, and compare earmarked initiatives and strategies on diversity within cultural policy in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. Our research interest is to find out who is represented in the national ‘we’ produced within the cultural sector of the welfare states after 2000.

An aspect of the research project is also to map, analyse, compare, and disseminate recent strategies of diversity work within the cultural sector in the Nordic region and its neighbouring countries. We share – by invitation – our findings with cultural institutions, for example the Nordic Cultural Fund, a/nordi/c, HAUT, the Danish Film Institute, and the The National Film School of Denmark.


Separatistiske fællesskaber af racialiserede kunst- og kulturarbejdere i Norden
Schmidt, Cecilie Ullerup & Gaonkar, Anna Meera, 2024. Fellesskap, konflikt og politikk: Spenninger i kunst- og kulturfeltet. Ogundipe, A. & Danielsen, A. (eds.). Oslo: Fagbokforlaget

No count! BIPoC artists counteracting “fair” representation and systemic racial loneliness in higher education in the arts
Schmidt, Cecilie Ullerup, 2022, Journal of Aesthetics & Culture. 14, 1.

Feeling Sick of Home? A Cultural Study of Postmigrant Homesickness in Contemporary Denmark
Gaonkar, Anna Meera, 2022, University of Copenhagen.  

The Fall of Greatness: Toward an Aesthetics of Co-(re)production
Schmidt, Cecilie Ullerup, 2021, Critical Stages / Scènes critiques. 23.

Postmigration: Art, Culture and Politics in Contemporary Europe
Gaonkar, Anna Meera, Schramm, M., Øst Hansen, A. S. & Post, H. C. (eds.), 2021, Transcript Verlag.  

Everybody Counts: The Aesthetics of Production in Higher Artistic Education and Performance Art Collectives. 
Schmidt, Cecilie Ullerup, 2019, University of Copenhagen.  



As part of our research we talk with experts in diversity work within the cultural sector in neighboring countries. Here ”Mangfold. Diversity with longevity in Arts and Culture Norway” and “Against the undefined ”we”. Peggy Piesche on diversity and separatism. The Federal Agency for Civic Education, Germany”. Both filmed and edited by Tanja In Wol Sørensen.



Name Title Phone E-mail
Gaonkar, Anna Meera Postdoc +4551225698 E-mail
Schmidt, Cecilie Ullerup Associate Professor   E-mail


Tanja In Wol Sørensen, coordinator of research seminar and film documentarist

Student assistant

Emma Sofie Brogaard  Jespersen