Accepted panels

Challenging solidarity

Organizer: Veronika Nagy, Utrecht University

It has been frequently argued that social boundaries as solidarity are radically changing in neoliberal societies not only due to increasing spatial mobility but also due to digitalisation such as the use of social media. Several ethnographic studies focused on relationships among mobile actors, groups and how inter-ethnic relations are shaped by technologies and online information exchange that also interrupt offline interconnections. Images of Roma as a mobile socially distant ethnic group has been regularly studied, however, hardly any research included the changing effects of virtual networks in relation to interethnic structures and new spaces of solidarity created by social and special fluidity of Roma groups. Based on four selected case studies with different Roma groups, this panel aims to challenge existing notions on solidarity among ethnic groups in particular in the context of Roma mobility. Each speaker will reflect on one specific aspect of this topic including their empirical findings with Finnish, Hungarian, Czech and Romanian Roma in different receiving countries.

Children and young

Organizer: Mari Korpela, University of Tampere

Children are often viewed as belonging to the sphere of home where they lead immobile lives in a safe environment, and if they move, they do so in the company and protection of their parents or other adults. Children and young people are, however, also involved in various kinds of mobilities where they have much agency of their own. This can mean spatial everyday mobilities when playing, going to school or (in many places) working. It can also mean transnational mobility with, or without, the company of parents or other adults. This panel invites papers that discuss children and young people’s mobilities in various forms and in various empirical contexts. The mobilities can be both social and spatial and the latter ones can take place both on local and global contexts. The panel investigates how the children and young people’s spatial and social mobilities are entangled with each other and broader economic, social and political processes. On the one hand, the panel aims to look at children and young people as active mobile agents and on the other hand, to elaborate on how their mobilities are restricted and guided by adults’ actions and societal structures. The papers may investigate, for example, children and young people’s agency (or the lack of it) in these mobilities or their negotiations with the physical and social environment and with other moving, or immobile, people. Ethnographic descriptions of children and young people’s mobilities and their conceptualisations of those mobilities are also welcome.

Disappearances, absences and silences

Organizer: Laura Huttunen, University of Tampere

Large-scale migration, as well as social and political upheavals entailing various kinds of mobilities, create situations marked by absences and silences. In migratory contexts, close family members are often absent from face-to-face interaction and the unfolding of everyday social life in their places of origin, affecting the lives of those left behind in many ways. In some cases, people go missing for extended periods of time, either while migrating or as victims of political persecution. They leave behind absences marked by deep ambiguity and distress. Moreover, during conflict situation and political upheavals, material belongings are often destroyed or lost. Simultaneously, the taken-for-granted nature of every-day life is disrupted, creating more symbolic absences. Finally, such situations often create silences, i.e. topics that are avoided because they are dangerous or painful. How do such absences affect social relations and processes? How to approach ethnographically that what is not there, i.e. silences over painful topics and absences of various kinds that affect people’s everyday lives? How do people address such absences and silences both symbolically and practically? How are absences entangled in social relations? We invite papers addressing these topics both theoretically and empirically in various ethnographic contexts.

Entangled sustainabilities

Organizer: Jenni Mölkänen, University of Helsinki

Environments all over the world are changing. Climate change, large scale and intensive natural resource use projects and conflicts and wars to mention few, are found to be creating crisis, growing inequality and uncertainty and challenging the ability of human beings to create sustainable lives through their technologies. At the same time, discourses of sustainability and sustainable development call for maintaining and sustaining certain living conditions. In addition, there is an urgent need to change present practices by developing them. What are the concrete, perhaps contradicting practices that entangle in the processes of environmental change, natural resource use and sustainable development? What are the knowledge practices, technologies and skills related to these processes? How do practices of different actors, such as states, transnational organisations, private companies, NGOs and social movements, inform and/or contradict with each other and what are the emergent results of these entanglements? Creating sustainable lives is not free from values, epistemologies and materialities of the people living in certain environments. What are the relations, values and institutions that contribute to the stabilized understandings and practices of sustainable lives of the particular people? Do changing materialities lead people to challenge, transform or maintain their subsistence practices, institutions and seek for new relations? What are the temporal dimensions of these processes? The panel seeks for solid works reflecting ethnographical, methodological and/or theoretical discussions, from different disciplines and fields of expertise engaging with the themes of the panel. Discussant TBC.

Film programme

Organizer: Carlo A. Cubero, Tallinn University

This film programme features documentaries of a broad anthropological persuasion that engage with the complexities associated with a life in movement. This curated film programme explores the notion of “movement” from the perspective of cinema, specifically its content and form. The programme will present films whose content engages with the instances of change, travel, disruption, and the new social narratives that emerge from these disruptions. Conversely, it will feature films whose content engages with the continuities and immobilities that are afforded by globalisation. In a second instance, the programme will present films that engage with the significance that movement plays in the cinematic form. The programme is specifically interested in exploring the unique capabilities of cinema in relation to other mediums and consider cinema’s capacity to generate new narratives and new forms of exploring the world. The screenings and Q&As that will follow each film will create a space to discuss the multiple entanglements that constituted the contemporary world from a cinematic point of view.

Finding spaces, making places

Organizers: Kathryn M. Hudson, University at Buffalo
John S. Henderson, Cornell University

This panel seeks to explore the ways in which individuals and communities engaged in patterns of mobility maintain their distinctiveness through the construction of concurrent but contextually variable identities associated with a particular self, which can be defined by a distinctive set of differentiating features. We follow Hallowell (1955), Sökefeld (1999), and others in situating such pluralistic identities vis-à-vis a notion of the self rooted in an awareness of these discriminating features and their ability to differentiate one self from another. We also assume that the concept of the self is not limited to individuals but may be extended to cultural or social groups and that it is at least partially responsible for the replication of these broader categories. This extension is particularly significant in considerations of mobility, since changes in the context in which the self is situated – whether cultural, economic, geographic, social, or otherwise – often necessitate a corresponding shift in the parameters of difference on which the self is based. By examining the ways in which these differences are defined, redefined, and associated with meaning, it is possible more effectively to examine the consequences of mobility and engage with a variety of anthropologically interesting questions: How are new locations (physical, social, or conceptual) assigned significance by a particular self? How and why do cultural categories and their members migrate geographically or socially? Does mobility necessitate the emergence of new or pluralistic identities? By considering these and other relevant questions, we hope to build a dialogue that explores how new spaces become recognized places and how these places, in turn, relate to particular selves and identities.

Materialities of mobile people

Friedemann Neumann, Goethe-University
Hans Peter Hahn, Goethe-University

Mobile people own things and embed theirs lives in complex sets of material possessions. However, comparing recently arrived refugees with fully integrated citizens with migratory background, it becomes impossible to define one specific pattern of “mobile peoples’ material culture”. Acknowledging the wide range and diverse nature of what mobile people acquire and use as everyday material equipment, a categorization of households into “migratory” or “non-migratory” types seems unhelpful. From an anthropological perspective, we expect to gain better understanding of the materialities of mobility by looking at how material practices are related to mobile identities on an everyday basis. Objects and people constantly interact; objects condition perceptions and experiences, and objects contribute to the specific place-making of mobile individuals and groups. Conceptualizing the relations between materiality and mobility within specific temporalities, allows taking a look at continuities, irritations, breaks, transformations, as well as the production of connections and new boundaries. By stressing the complexity of modes of embedding, we intend to avoid simplifying representations of objects as “symbols of mobility”. Instead, we focus on how things are appropriated, modified and subverted in daily life in multifaceted and unpredictable manners. In this panel, we seek to gain understanding of materiality as a specific way of constituting relations and constellations. After all, mobility means changing perceptions and practices, which are always intertwined in different life-worlds. In accordance to this assumption, we invite papers dealing with the materialities of mobile people as an approach to show the diversity of mobilities in everyday life.

Moving on

Organizer: Gabriele Griffin, Uppsala University

The entanglement of relationships and bodies transnationally has been consistently motivated by a desire for change – for change of bodies, of relationships and of material conditions. These desires are contoured by legislative, economic, biotechnological and socio-cultural parameters. Regulations regarding fertility, for example, prescribe the transnational routes LGBTI people seeking to have children through biotechnological means or use of surrogates may take. Similarly, opportunities for clitoral reconstruction for women who have had female genital cutting are structured by migratory flows, clinical practices and legal as well as socio-cultural parameters. Help-seeking by those wanting change, and help-giving of those who can provide the means or processes to achieve such change, are thus complexly circumscribed, and all the more so where bodily practices and desires map onto groups that are minoritized, stigmatized or in various ways marginalized. Here the opportunities to seek change become particularly difficult and for that very reason frequently very little is known about the processes and experiences involved. This panel proposes to discuss what such entanglements entail, particularly in the contexts of medically motivated bodily changes and relationships as these occur within transnational contexts. It is interesting in examining how both those who seek help and those who provide it experience and articulate those entanglements.

Neoliberal employment policies

Organizer: Francisco Arqueros-Fernandez, National University of Ireland

The Welfare State, contrary to common belief in most anthropological literature, has not been dismantled nor has significantly shrunk in the EU; rather, it has changed its character. Some of the aspects of this change have been a process of privatisation by a progressive handing of management to the third sector of State welfare programs and the adoption of the ideology of Neoliberalism. This shift has affected state employment policies. The state has delegated to the private sector and the “free market” the creation of employment, and has progressively reduced employment polices to the implementation of Active Employment Policies (AEPs). These processes have contributed to the “production of boundaries”, and therefore the “production and reproduction of difference” between different groups of workers, rather than to the closing of them. Embodied social phenomena such as ethnicity, gender and class constitute grounds for the social production of difference among workers, and the construction of a segmented labour market. This panel intends to explore how Active Employment Policies contribute to the reproduction of social stereotypes between groups of immigrant and local workers, particularly at the lower end of the labour market; how different groups of workers are categorized as fit for certain types of jobs while excluded from others; how these policies determine their incomes and social status; how despite their intentions these policies do not produce equal individuals before the market; what has been the role of the voluntary and the private sectors in the implementation of AEPs; who are the beneficiaries of these policies; etc. This panel calls for papers dealing with the topics described above, mainly located in EU countries.

New media

Organizer: Sirpa Tenhunen, University of Jyväskylä

New media currently play a crucial role in the way migrants negotiate their travel routes and establish and maintain relations while moving and settling down. However, new media also influence and relate to various other forms of mobility—and immobility. This panel explores how new media (mobile phones, smart phones, social media and the internet) use is connected to and relates with mobility and place making. It analyzes how new media influence mobility and the meaning of places. We invite papers which, among other things, can explore new media use and migration, use of new media for social mobility and imagination as well as people’s involvements in overlapping digital spheres and frictions that derive from their embeddedness in digital and offline social fields. We welcome papers which are based on empirical research and seek to make a theoretical contribution.

Planned realities or imaginaries

Organisers: Suvi Rautio, University of Helsinki (suvi.rautio[a]
Sonja Trifuljesko, University of Helsinki, (sonja.trifuljesko[a]
Agnese Bankovska, University of Helsinki (agnese.bankovska[a]

This panel explores the multiple spatiotemporal trajectories of planning and the power dynamics these evoke. Following Abram and Weszkalnys, planning hereby refers to an aspiration to betterment, a movement from the current state of things to the desired ones. As such, through the expression of various ways people imagine the possible and the desirable, planning becomes a site where power relations are practiced. In studying the processes that come to form a plan (infrastructural, economic, educational, career etc.), entities that model the imagined and real; private and public; and systematic and random become blurred. These entities exist, not as binary oppositions, but simultaneously, running in parallel or intersecting each other. Studying the process of planning thus brings to the surface incommensurable logics mediated between various actors across time and space, who occupy different positions in terms of power relations. We ask applicants that take an ethnographic approach to all forms of plans and planning processes to explore the following and related questions: How do plans bend spatiotemporal properties? And how does this, in effect, rearrange relationships between objects and people that are taken up by the planning process, both directly and indirectly? What role does stabilisation, along with transformation, play in planning? How do gendered, ethnic and/or other fixed representations evoked through planning reflect spatiotemporal movements? How do plans reveal power relations, the workings of the modern nation-state and rules of governmentality? What dynamics form in response to the multiple incommensurable logics that come together to shape plans?

Refugee education

Organizers: Project PRESS (Provision of Refugee Education and Support Scheme), Hellenic Open University, George Androulakis, Ivi Daskalaki, Anna Apostolidou and Sofia Tsioli

The panel invites papers that address the shifting and often ambiguous ways in which education for refugee children and adults is viewed, offered and implemented throughout their journey from their country of origin to that of their final destination. Those subtle transformations and contrasting views may include anything from the refugees’ own perspectives on their communication, linguistic and educational priorities in a context of fluidity, instability and transnational mobility to state policies and individual initiatives; from institutional curricula to NGO practices and agendas; from conceptual registers to material implementation of education etc. Empirical data and theoretical approaches are welcome so far as they include: Refugee children’s and adults’ own narratives of their education ‘routes’; refugee children’s and adults’ own accounts of their educational, communication and linguistic priorities and needs in a context of movement, possible encampment/entrapment and future expectations of permanent residence; non-mainstream (family/community-based) processes of knowledge and learning in a state of transit; Communication and linguistic needs and practices (languaging and language choices); refugee education in relation to age, gender, ethnicity, religion, class and legal status; international collaboration on refugee education; contradictive notions of education between countries of origin and destination; continuities and discontinuities in refugee education within a transit country; education in fluid socio-spatial and temporal contexts and international, transnational and national models for refugee education.

Silence, secrets, forgetting

Organizers: Katja Uusihakala, University of Helsinki
Henni Alava, University of Helsinki

How do silence, secrets and forgetting affect ethnographic research? How do they figure in people’s life experiences and how, consequently, do they shape the flows of knowledge in ethnography? How do we make sense of that which does not allow itself for verbalization? This panel explores the mobility of knowledge by focusing on its gaps, breaks and blocks. It analyzes the significance of the unspoken in people’s relationships with problematic pasts, the ways in which silence is embedded in and indicative of violent power relationships, as well as the ethical and methodological implications that silence has for anthropological research. The broadly shared “Western” conceptualization that remembering is virtuous and forgetting inevitably a failure, is intertwined with a presumption that verbal recounting is a powerful means to redemption, healing and empowerment. This is reflected particularly in various forms of public testimony. However, while silence may be a sign of disparate relations of power, of repressive erasure, and enforced forgetting, it also holds communicative power. As Fabian (2003) suggests, even secrets are not things un-known or absences of communication, but things performed and communicated in a special way. Silence also prompts questions of method, representation and ethics. How does the concealed, the silenced and even the forgotten emerge and flow in the communicative relationship between the researcher and her interlocutor? What methodological tools and ways of ethnographic representation can be employed to engage with silences in fieldwork? How do we choose between protecting and breaking silences? This panel invites papers that ethnographically examine the meanings of silence, secrets and forgetting in different cultural and political moments, and their implications for anthropological research. In line with the conference theme we particularly invite reflections on silences and secrets in accounts of mobility and of transitions through space and time.


Järjestäjät: Julia Granroth (julia.granroth[a]
Hilja Aunela (hilja.aunela[a]

Opiskelijapaneeli on suunnattu kandi- tai maisterivaiheen antropologian opiskelijoille. He voivat pohjata esityksensä kandintyölleen tai tekeillä olevaan graduun. Konferenssipaneeli on tilaisuus, jossa kukin tilaisuuteen valittu osallistuja pitää n. 20 minuutin esitelmän. Paneelin keskustelukielenä on suomi. Kutakin esitelmää seuraa n. 15 minuutin tiivis keskustelu, jonka aikana myös yleisö voi esittää kysymyksiä puhujalle. Paneelin tarkoituksena on tarjota opiskelijoille mahdollisuus päästä esittelemään omaa tutkimustaan sekä tutustuttamaan heidät konferenssikäytäntöihin. Toivomme herättävämme keskustelua siitä, minkälaista antropologiaa suomalaiset opiskelijat tekevät ja minkälaisiin argumentteihin kandin- ja maisterintöillä pääsee. Konferenssin pääteemojen (paikan luominen; rajojen luominen; ihmissuhteet liikkuvuuden toimijoiden välillä; artefaktit ja liikkuvuuden teknologiat; kuvitteellinen liikkuvuus; ideoiden ja struktuurien liikkuvuus) lisäksi olemme kiinnostuneita muistakin aihepiireistä.