Sandra Holtgreve - Doctoral Researcher

Sandra Holtgreve

Doctoral project:
Coloniality in the Global South and North. An Analysis of Social Work Education in Germany, Mexico and Ecuador


since 10/2017 Doctoral Researcher in the Research Training Group "World Politics", Bielefeld University
2015 - 2017 Student Assistant for international exchange programs, Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University
2014 - 2017 M.A. Sociology, Bielefeld University
2013 - 2014 Student Assistant, Research project: Intersections of gender and indigenity in Ecuadorian pre-school education
2013 - 2014 Specialization in Migration, Development and Human Rights, Universidad Latinoamericana de Postgrado Líder en Ciencias Sociales, Quito, Ecuador
2009 - 2013 B.A. Social Work, Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences

Instead of "Western principles that permeate the World", Social Sciences research and education increasingly recognize the interdependence of South and North through a colonial matrix of power. Theoretical approaches of coloniality describe this entanglement and invoke a center-periphery divide referred to as South and North. Social Work Education that faces the dilemma to reconcile a global definition and goals of the profession with local social intervention, still struggles how to address this theoretical turn. In how far does Social Work Education in different countries regard coloniality? How do the careers relate to the local environment or shared institutional structures?

In the field of sociology of knowledge, this research takes coloniality as an object of empirical observation. It asks how knowledge related to the concept is constructed in Social Work Education in three countries that due to their economic, political, social, cultural, historical and profession specific dispositions provide complementary views: Germany, Mexico and Ecuador. A critical discussion of diffusion in the World Polity from the perspective of coloniality of knowing provides the theoretical ground to identify, analyze and relate the knowledge construction processes concerning coloniality among these countries. Discourse analysis of curricula and relevant syllabus, expert interviews and in-class observations in the selected countries´ Social Work careers will explore not only similarities but also identify local differentiations and possible spaces of decolonization. The empirical evidence will decipher modes that underlie (lacking) diffusion. In this way, the project not only expands the homogenization approach of World Polity, but also concretizes how "abyssal lines" are drawn in the case of Social Work Education.

  • Holtgreve, Sandra (2017). Kolonialisierung, Kolonialität und Dekolonisierung: Zugänge aus Lateinamerika zum Sozialen. Talk in the lecture series: "Diskriminierungs- und Rassismuskritik in Sozialer Arbeit und Bildung", 16 May 2017, University of Applied Sciences Bielefeld, Department of Social Work.
  • Holtgreve, S. (2018) "Dekolonialisierung als Herausforderung für die Sozialarbeitsausbildung im Globalen Norden," workshop (with Prof. Cornelia Giebler) at the Bundeskongress für Soziale Arbeit, 5-7 September, Fachhochschule Bielefeld.
  • Holtgreve, S. (2018) Chair at the panel "Social Work in the Americas: Managing tensions between localization and globalization in the world society," at the International Congress of Interamericanist Students," Bielefeld University, 6-8 June, Bielefeld.


Forthcoming in October and November: RTG-Workshops

Two-day workshops at Bielefeld University on 'Imagining Belonging in World Politics: Concepts, practices and struggles' (01 & 02 Oct.18) and 'Balance and Competition in World Politics' (09 & 10 Nov.18) organized by the RTG members.

Workshop with Deborah Ruggieri

"Attention please & the power of persuasion." A workshop for female PhD students funded by the RTGs equality fund.


Guest Lecture by Georgios Varouxakis (London)

Lecture series 'Signaturen der Weltgesellschaft' jointly organized with the Institute for World Society on "Towards a genealogy of the concept of the West" presented by Prof. Dr. Georgios Varouxakis (Queen Mary University), Thursday 12 July at 18.15 in room X-C3-107.

Guest Lecture by Ursula Mense-Petermann (Bielefeld)

Lecture series 'Signaturen der Weltgesellschaft' jointly organized with the Institute for World Society on "Observing transnational labor markets through the lens of economic sociology - on the production of a transnational labor market in the meat industry" presented by Prof. Dr. Ursula Mense-Petermann (Bielefeld University), 19 June at 18.15 in room X-C3-107.

Workshop with Jennifer Pitts (Chicago)

Workshop jointly organized with the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology on "Boundaries of the International" held by Prof. Dr. Jennifer Pitts (University of Chicago)

Guest Lecture by Shih-Jiunn Shi (Bielefeld)

Lecture series 'Signaturen der Weltgesellschaft' jointly organized with the Institute for World Society on "Cultural Convergence or Political-economic Divergence: A Comparative Perspective on the Welfare Development in Greater China" presented by Shih-Jiunn Shi (Fellow at the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research Bielefeld).

Guest Lecture by Or Rosenboim (London)

Lecture series 'Signaturen der Weltgesellschaft' jointly organized with the Institute for World Society on "Globalism: Historical Perspectives on a Contested Concept" presented by Dr. Or Rosenboim.

RTG newsletter was launched

The RTG successfully launched its newsletter. The first issue is now available online. The newsletter provides an overview of past developments and events of the RTG and informs about future events. The next issue is expected to be published at the end of the summer semester.

New doctoral researcher joined the RTG

On 01 March, Karlson Preuss took up his position in the Research Training Group. In his doctoral dissertation, he focuses on "The Unwritten Constitution as an Intersection between Global Law and World Politics".


A touch of world politics in Bad Salzuflen

The RTG participated in the Annual Retreat of the Institute for World Society Studies on 14 and 15 December 2017 in Bad Salzuflen. More.


Guest lecture by George Lawson (LSE) on 28 November

We would like to invite you to the Guest lecture "Global Historical Sociology" by Dr. George Lawson (LSE) on Tuesday, 28 November at 18:15 in room no. X C3-107.


RTG "World Politics" officially launched

Ten international young scientists and eleven principal investigators will investigate the emergence of world politics as a specific type of politics from an interdisciplinary perspective. More.

Official Opening of the RTG on 24 October

We would like to invite you to the Official Opening of the RTG and the guest lecture "'Lies are the Law of the World!' News and Global Media Networks in the Twentieth Century" by Prof. Dr. Heidi Tworek (University of British Columbia, Vancouver) on Tuesday, 24 October at 18:15 in room no. X C3-107.

The RTG "World Politics" started on 01 October

On 01 October 2017, the Research Training Group "World politics: The emergence of political arenas and modes of observation in world society" started. Nine doctoral researchers and one post-doctoral researcher took up their positions.

The RTG is approved

We are pleased to announce that the DFG has approved our Research Training Group application. The new Research Training Group `World politics: The emergence of political arenas and modes of observation in world society´ will start 01 October 2017.