Finnish Anthropology Conference 2013
Culture, creativity and performativity
16th -17th of May 2013, University of Tampere, Finland

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Session Abstracts • Paneelien abstraktit

Paper abstracts (pdf, 22 p)
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1. Art and creativity in ethnographic data collection
2. Improvisation and creativity in transnational lives
3. Sound and intimacy
4. Youth music and the making of social subjectivities and communities
5. Art, Artistic Creativity and Anthropology
6. Hoiva, kulttuuri ja hyvinvointi
7. Osallistava taideperustainen työskentely ja ja etnografi(ne)n tieto
8. Nature making: anthropological approaches to environmental change
9. Tanssietnografia /Dance Ethnography
10. Notions of time

1. Art and creativity in ethnographic data collection

During fieldwork, anthropologists conduct participant observation and interview people. Some anthropologists, however, also use art-related research methods or are involved with research subjects who express themselves artistically. Anthropologists may, for example, ask the research subjects to draw pictures, take photos or make video recordings. Some anthropologists may be involved with research subjects who regularly turn their experiences into fictive or biographical texts or even poetry and music. This workshop investigates the use of creative and art-based research methods in ethnographic research as well as the artistic self-expression of research subjects in themes related to the research question. Participants may introduce and discuss the methods they have used or encountered in the studies they have conducted or they may elaborate on their plans to use such methods and forms in the future. The workshop aims also to discuss what kind of knowledge such methods and forms of expression produce and what the significance of arts and creativity in the anthropological data collection process is.

Convenors: Mari Korpela, University of Tampere (mari.korpela[a],
Marko Juntunen, University of Tampere (marko.juntunen[a]

2. Improvisation and creativity in transnational lives

Ethnographies of transnational mobility saliently reveal the improvisational and creative nature of everyday life. Transnational lives are continuously made and re-made in the face of changing political and economic circumstances, everyday uncertainties and individual and family-life trajectories. The life strategies, plans, hopes, expectations and actions are adapted and negotiated as people strive to live their lives and maintain relationships across borders, entangled in relations with others. The mutual interdependency of social actors and their embeddedness in larger political and economic structures underpins the “improvisational creativity” (Ingold and Hallam, 2006) of transnational life.

We are interested in discussing various approaches, both empirically and theoretically grounded, that shed light on how the emphasis on the improvisational and creative aspects of everyday life can contribute to deeper and more nuanced understanding of transnational lives as well as open up new theoretical avenues in transnational studies. We invite papers, which look at the practices of improvisation and creativity in different spheres of transnational lives, including, but not limited to, transnational families, home-making, transnational mobilities, cultural consumption, religious practices, social networking in virtual space as well as civic and business activities. We welcome papers, which look at the political and economic embeddedness of improvisational practices, their situatedness in particular spatial and temporal contexts.

Convenors: Anna Matyska, University of Tampere, anna.matyska[a]
Tatiana Tiaynen, University of Tampere, Tatiana.tiaynen[a]
Jaanika Kingumets, University of Tampere, jaanika.kingumets[a]

3. Sound and intimacy

In the Latin the term intimacy can be interpreted as making known to a friend what is deepest, most internal part of self. It involves inseparability, a belonging together, but can also, paradoxically, be a means of preserving privacy. The concept of cultural intimacy was initially established in anthropology in the mid-1990’s, and the concept has surfaced in the music research during the last few years. Cultural intimacy refers to the shared collective identity of a specific group or those collective elements that yield an internal and uniting sense of collectiveness, which can be seen as shameful in the eyes of the outsider. Cultural intimacy acts as a way of understanding the pressure points of certain cultural sensitivities.

Popular music is situated both socially and culturally in the area of art that has a long tradition of complicity with ideas of intimacy, emotion and self exploration. This panel suggests that the concept of cultural intimacy can gain new, profound meanings when applied to the context of music and sonic environment. For this purpose the panel discusses and explore the possibilities provided by a new concept of “sonic intimacy”.

By using cultural studies, ethnomusicology and soundscape research the presentations focus on analyzing sonic intimacy through three different kinds of representations; the role of music in creation of cultural and sonic intimacy in documentary films concerning Sami people; jazz musicians’ discussions about intimacy in creation of authentic performance; and representations of sonic intimacy in New Turkish Cinema.

Note: this session does not accept new proposals.

Convenors: Elina Hytönen, elina.t.hytonen[a]
Terhi Skaniakos, terhi.skaniakos[a]

4. Youth music and the making of social subjectivities and communities

The session investigates performative aspects of diverse youth music styles. It aims to analyze the kinds of subjectivities and values created in music performances, on the one hand, and in adherents’ or public discourses about the music, on the other. Three papers have already been allocated to the session, with one studying the role of religion in Finnish reggae music, and two exploring the negotiation of post-apartheid subjectivities in South African youth music. The session is open to additional paper proposals.

Convenor: Tuulikki Pietilä, University of Helsinki, tuulikki.pietila[a]

5. Art, Artistic Creativity and Anthropology

The present systematization of anthropology of art as an anthropological sub-discipline eventuated in the late 1960s and the next decade. Then the focus shifted from the study of historically differentiated aesthetic systems and functionalist models towards artistic processes in modernisation and cultural change, and towards the economy of artistic production. Also critique towards the western concepts of art and aesthetics became vocal. In 1997, Alfred Gell presented an anthropological model for understanding arts in the social context and for considering artworks as social agents. Lately a dialogue has emerged between anthropologists and artists working together on anthropological ideas and knowledge. Art worlds today are less controlled by cultural boundaries than they are by markets and media.

Usually artistic creativity relates to the production of uniqueness and novelty, but also the production and maintaining of traditional expressions requires creativity. Creativity is thus a component of both new and conventional forms of art. Anthropology looks into the complex and multidimensional cultural phenomena that are examples of human creativity. The relationship between creativity and art is not simple, and both concepts are subject to different cultural understandings and interpretations.

What and where is art – for anthropologists? What is artistic creativity and how can it be anthropologically defined and analysed? How do artistic articulations and creativity engage with their surroundings in the different localities and social settings, including the digital environment? We welcome papers that address these issues in different contexts, for example in visual arts, music, dance, performance, rituals, festivals, media, aesthetics, art business, anthropological theory.

Jari Kupiainen Karelia University of Applied Sciences: jari.kupiainen[a]
Sanni Sivonen, University of Eastern Finland, sansivo[a]

6. Hoiva, kulttuuri ja hyvinvointi

Työryhmässä pohditaan hoivan ja hyvinvoinnin kulttuurista ulottuvuutta. Antropologisesta näkökulmasta hoivan ja kulttuurin suhde kytkeytyy esimerkiksi kysymyksiin yhteisöllisyydestä, terveyden ja sairauden (poikkeavuuden) kategorioista ja rituaaleista. Kuitenkin esimerkiksi hoivatyössä, joka on pitkälle professionalisoitunut, kulttuuriset aspektit tulevat vain harvoin esille. Toisaalta kulttuuri- ja hoiva-alan kohtaamista ei juuri tapahdu esimerkiksi hoitolaitoksissa: kulttuurialan ja hoiva-alan toimijat pysyvät omilla sektoreillaan ja kulttuuritoiminta jää lopulta ”ylimääräiseksi” toiminnaksi.

Työryhmään odotetaan papereita, joissa hoivan kulttuurisia kytköksiä pohditaan eri näkökulmista. Erityinen painotus on hoivaan liittyvissä ruumiillisissa ja ei-kielellisissä merkityksissä, joita on mahdollista nostaa esiin erilaisten ilmaisutapojen avulla (ääni, musiikki, liike, kuvat).

Vetäjä: Tarja Rautiainen-Keskustalo, Tampereen yliopisto Tarja.Rautiainen[a]

7. Osallistava taideperustainen työskentely ja ja etnografi(ne)n tieto

Taiteelliseen toimintaan perustuvat (osallistavat) työmuodot ovat viime vuosina nousseet osaksi kasvatuksen ja sosiaalityön kenttää. Niiden on myös nähty tukevan yksilöiden ja yhteisöjen hyvinvointia. Useille kentällä toimiville tutkijoille/taiteilijoille/sosiaalityöntekijöille ja muille ammattilaisille kysymykset sekä tällaisissa hankkeissa tuotetun tiedon luonteesta että tutkijan/taitelijan/välittäjän roolista ovat tuttuja.

Työryhmässämme haluamme pohtia kokeellisten ja osallistavien lähestymistapojen antia etnografiselle tutkimukselle. Tällaiset lähestymistavat voivat teoreettisesti ja metodologisesti nojautua esimerkiksi jälkikolonialistisiin ja jälkimoderneihin ajattelutapoihin tai taiteen, luovuuden ja performatiivisuuden merkitystä korostaviin käsityksiin tutkimuksellisen tiedon ymmärtämisestä ja tutkimuksen raportoinnista.

Alustukset voivat käsitellä esimerkiksi kenttätyön haasteita, tutkijan/toimijan paikantumista, taiteellisen toiminnan ja etnografisen metodin yhdistämistä, osallistavan työn voimauttavuutta, kulttuurien kohtaamista, valtaan liittyviä kysymyksiä tai taiteen ja hyvinvointikeskustelun toisiinsa nivoutumista. Ne voivat olla perinteisiä esitelmiä tai performatiivisia esitystapoja soveltavia.

Vetäjät: Helena Oikarinen-Jabai h.oikarinen.jabai[a] & Satu Ranta-Tyrkkö, Tampereen yliopsito, satu.ranta-tyrkko[a]

8. Nature making: anthropological approaches to environmental change

The aim of the panel is to explore world-scale environmental changes by bringing together two, so far disconnected discussions about nature. The first discussion is concerned with nature as a fundamental premise for the capitalist economy. The other uses ethnographic evidence from non-capitalist societies to question nature as something that exists apart from humanity. While there is little obvious connection between these discussions, they share an interest in the mutually constituting interactions between people and the biophysical reality. Both speak about “natures” in the plural, implying that people “make” natures when they single out, value and interact with specific properties of the material world.

Our purpose is to create a combined perspective from which to analyze how people, landscapes, and environments are regrouped and mobilized by the currently expanding regimes of nature conservation and resource extraction. Noel Castree (2008: 149) and Alice Kelly (2011) have argued that these are two sides of the same coin. In order to give free reign to capital accumulation, neoliberalism seeks to protect as well as degrade the biophysical world. Possible ethnographic topics for the papers in the panel include nature conservation, climate change mitigation, agro-industrial plantations and mining industries, each of which “manufactures” nature as a domain of new accumulation and intervention.

Much of the anthropological interest in such topics has been channeled to political ecology. Its focus is on distribution conflicts around things which people construct as resources. Our aim is to push the discussion towards ontological questions. What are resources: elements of the material world or commodities? How do they reorient people’s activity and reveal themselves to human knowledge? What are their integrating and disintegrating effects on social life?

These questions avoid ecology as a self-reproducing structure. Instead we want to explore ecology in the Deleuzian sense, as assemblages of people, things and signs which acquire new capacities through their interaction. Such an approach can be particularly revealing when the social world changes so fast that we can no longer make it up of its familiar ingredients (Latour 2005: 142; DeLanda 2006: 95). In keeping with this theoretical interest, we welcome papers which address the human responses to abrupt changes in environmental discourse, policy, and practice.

Timo Kaartinen (University of Helsinki) timo.kaartinen[a]
Anu Lounela (University of Helsinki) anu.lounela[a]
Tuomas Tammisto (University of Helsinki) tuomas.tammisto[a]

9. Tanssietnografia /Dance Ethnography

In dance anthropology ethnography implies research that has its focus on dance situations in which the researcher is involved, either as a dancer her/himself or merely as an observer, or which the researcher obtains information about, for example by interviewing participants. With an emphasis on situations, the research concentrates to a large extent on cultural meanings of dance, and simultaneously, its perspective expands from mere behaviour to the contexts of dance and dancing. Ethnographic perspective refers to the research of dance as cultural and corporeal knowledge and skills, whose investigation essentially requires a researcher’s personal experience and involvement. In this workshop forms and applicability of dance ethnography are discussed. As a basis for discussion the following questions are involved: How does a researcher’s own dancing influence the process of observation? What does participant observation mean in dance ethnography? How can methods and experiences of dance ethnography be applied to other forms of movement and exercise studies or music research, for example?

Tanssin antropologisessa tutkimuksessa etnografia tarkoittaa tutkimuksen kohdistumista tanssitilanteisiin, joissa tutkija on mukana joko itse toimijana tai tarkkailijana tai joista tutkija hankkii tietoa osallistujien kokemuksien kautta esimerkiksi haastattelemalla. Tanssitilanteiden kautta tutkimus kohdistuu ennen kaikkea tanssin kulttuurisiin merkityksiin, ja samalla huomio laajentuu pelkästä toiminnasta myös tanssin ja tanssimisen konteksteihin. Etnografinen perspektiivi tarkoittaa tanssin tutkimista kulttuurisena, ruumiillisena tietona ja taitona, jonka tavoittamisessa tutkijan omakohtainen kokemus ja läsnäolo ovat keskeisiä. Tässä työryhmässä pohditaan tanssietnografian muotoja ja mahdollisuuksia. Keskustelun pohjana ovat mm. seuraavat kysymykset: Millä tavoin tutkijan oma tanssiminen vaikuttaa havainnointiin? Mitä osallistuva havainnointi tarkoittaa tanssietnografiassa? Miten tanssietnografian menetelmiä ja kokemuksia voi soveltaa esimerkiksi muuhun liikkeen ja liikunnan tai musiikin tutkimukseen?

Convenor: Petri Hoppu, petri.hoppu[a]

10. Notions of time

Time is a classical object of inquiry in anthropology, one that has resurfaced since the discipline first became established. From Durkheim’s “social time” to Malinowski’s time-reckoning, or from a representational phenomenon to a functional-empiricist one, “the problem of time has often been handmaiden to other anthropological frames and issues”, as Nancy Munn (1992: 93) puts it.

A classic example of conceptualising time comes from Evans-Pritchard’s The Nuer, where he proposes that “The Nuer have no expression equivalent to ‘time’ in our language, and they cannot, therefore, speak of time as though it were something which passes, can be wasted, saved, and so forth”. These temporalities have been discussed elsewhere as “clock time” (E.P. Thompson) or “sidereal time” (Sorokin & Merton) as opposed to “task-oriented” or “social time”, often connected to different modes of production (see Ingold 2000 [1995]).

Another example is reproductive time which is conceptualised as repetitive. Persons and societies become replicated cyclically as succeeding generations replace each other, ideally into sheer infinity. Continuity is created via an idea of sameness as opposed to the notion of historical time as comprised of unique events (see Leach 1961). The perpetuation of both people and societies becomes a way to seek eternity.

While cyclical time is movement in order to stay the same, Katherine Verdery (1996: 35, 57) describes socialist time as standing still, despite ideological state claims of progress. Along with the large-scale political and economic transformations in Eastern Europe, this notion of time was transformed, as socialism – which itself was built on an idea of eternity (Yurchak 2005) – became a thing of the past. In a similar vein, one can observe the uncertain future orientations created by neoliberal business management or millenarian Christianity as alternate temporalities, too.

This panel asks participants to reflect on distinct types of temporalities. What kind of alternatives can we find to notions of time as linear movement or quantifiable resource? How to conceptualise situations where temporalities are transforming or two different concepts of time are intersecting? How do large-scale historical changes interact with distinct types of everyday temporalities and how do individuals negotiate such differing orders of time? How to understand notions of eternity?

Heidi Härkönen, heidi.harkonen[a]
Matti Eräsaari, matti.erasaari[a]

Ingold, Tim 2000 [1995]. Work, Time and Industry. In T. Ingold, The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill.
Leach, Edmund 1968 [1961]. Two essays concerning the symbolic representation of time. In E. R. Leach, Rethinking Anthropology.
Munn, Nancy 1992. The Cultural Anthropology of Time: A Critical Essay. Annu. Rev. Anthropol. 21: 93–123.
Verdery, Katherine 1996. What was Socialism and What Comes Next?
Yurchak, Alexei 2006. Everything Was Forever, Until It Was No More: The Last Soviet Generation.