Research Program

EDDA is an interdisciplinary research center in critical contemporary research. Its research program is focused on the study of (in)equality and diversity; societal and political ruptures; the welfare state; and conflict, sustainability, and development. EDDA’s research programme is based on three interrelated and interdisciplinary research areas:


From historical and contemporary perspectives, the area explores political, economic, social, and cultural conditions, with emphasis on (in)equality discourses and practices; representations of power, hierarchies, and identities, and debates on “emergency politics,” societal deconstruction and reconstruction.  It addresses these topics from diverse perspectives, such as gender; politics; the environment; memory and history; civil society; and multiculturalism. The research area includes two themes:

Theme 1: Conceptions of Differences and Renegotiations of Equality

Various empirical and theoretical methods are used to analyze leveling and pluralistic discourses, focusing on their cultural, social and political manifestations and their transformative potential.  Special emphasis is on: (a) the concepts of (in)equality and difference; (b) gender and sexual violence; (c) feminist resistance strategies; (d) intersectionality, power hierarchies, and individual and collective identities; (e) discrimination and socio-cultural contexts. Another focal point is to address the political practice of gender equality and human rights from a broad perspective. This includes the study of government policies, political and social movements and civil society. 


Theme 2: Societal and Political Ruptures: Past Ideologies, the Politics of Memory, and Democratic Renewal

The focus is on how societies deal with crises in the spheres of the political, cultural, economic, social, and environmental. When applicable, Iceland is used as a case study within a larger transnational comparative framework. Areas of emphasis are: (a) the revival of nationalism, the rise of populism and the politics of immigration; (b) emergency politics and “states of exceptions”; (c) governance and institutional discourses and practices; (d) the politics of resistance in an “age of anger”; (e) theories of  democracy, collective decision-making, and political processes; (f) cultural and political memory; (g) configurations and reconfigurations of historical and national identities within transnational frameworks and social processes, such as Nordic collaboration and deviations, Europeanization and de-Europeanization.


This area centers on the relationship between the state, markets and the private sphere and on the consequences different configurations in terms of human well-being and the quality of society. Topics covered include welfare state developments; the link between work and family life; citizenship and social justice; the role of political and social factors as causes and consequences of the financial crisis. Special attention is given to differential outcomes of men and women as well as different social groups. Both well-being and social progress are broadly conceived, allowing for both empirical work and normative theory, a wide range of indicators as well as analysis from both micro and macro perspectives. The research area includes two themes:

Theme 3: Societal Change and Human Well-Being  

This theme questions conventional approaches to well-being and social progress and develops new theoretical and methodological approaches to these issues. The central questions to be addressed are: (a) does the conventional focus on monetary measures of well-being and progress produce a skewed understanding of those issues? (b) how are well-being and progress to be understood, conceptualized and measured? c) what does taking a broader approach to well-being and social progress add to our knowledge? (d) what is the relationship between well-being and societal progress? 


Theme 4: Trajectories of Social and Economic Inequalities  

The current global financial crisis has had an immediate impact on the quality of people’s lives and will inevitably shape the trajectories of social and economic development for years to come. This theme focuses on (a) how the Icelandic banking crisis has affected people’s values, life-styles, levels of living and well-being; (b) how the consequences of the crisis differ for different groups – with a special focus on income inequality; and (c) how the government’s policy responses mediate between the economic situation and people’s outcomes; (d) patterns of crisis consequences among Nordic and selected European nations, using comparative perspectives. 


The area focuses on development, reconstruction and security discourses in various geographic settings. A comparative approach draws on concepts, such as transnational politics; gender, conflict and war; securitization/desecuritization; military/civil cooperation or divide; the role of international organizations and development dependencies; neo-colonialism/post-colonialism; post-conflict reconstruction and democratization; development; peacekeeping and peace-building; human rights; and transnational aspects of climate change, the “North”, and regional and human development. The area includes two themes: 

Theme 5: Transnational Discourses on Development, Conflict, and Security 

The focus is on development cooperation from various transnational, national, and local perspectives. It includes the intermeshing of discourses and practices, which have been put under the rubric of “developed” and “developing” countries. The theme ties directly with the objective of United Nations University Gender Equality Studies and Training Programme at the University of Iceland (UNU-GEST) which is to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in developing countries and conflict/post-conflict societies. It also involves a critical engagement with penal humanitarianism as New venues will also be explored for looking critically at established foreign, military, and security policy discourses, using human, geopolitical, gender, societal, economic, and environmental security approaches. 


Theme 6: The Geopolitics of Climate Change, Representations of the “North,” and Regional and Human Development 

The research concentrates on the politics, cultures, and sociologies of the Arctic and the multiple transnational effects of climate change. One goal is to define and “claim” the “North” in terms of geopolitics, law, “cultural heritage,” tourism, gender, social and cultural sustainability, security, sovereignty, and the economy. This includes an analysis of the role of regional institutions and international agreements and factors such as human development, the rights of “indigenous people,” and social, economic, and cultural sustainability. The impact of the restructuring of regions is a key area of research. Finally, the focus is on the current transnational jockeying – to carve out a role in the “re-territorialization” of the “North” with a focus on the Arctic as a natural-resource base, an eco-system, and a potentially contested political and military terrain.