Call for papers: ETMU Conference 2018


15-16th November 2018
Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland

Conference rationale:

The conference’s goal is to reflect on the meanings, effects and resistances towards vulnerability in the context of mobility, migration and minoritization. Vulnerability, understood as both a universal and constant aspect of everyday life and a particular predicament of differently resilient individuals, has recently become an important concept within migration and minority studies. Survivors of torture, undocumented children or victims of trafficking have been considered as particularly vulnerable, and legislation and societal structures have been considered as agents in the creation and mitigation of such vulnerabilities. However, the understanding of vulnerability as negativity that requires a resilience-building response from the society and state institutions has been criticised as yet another mode of governing individuals in a neoliberal society. In turn, this view has been juxtaposed with understandings of vulnerability as a condition that is productive of or constitutes a radical possibility for the creation of new identities and subjectivities.

The confirmed keynote speakers are Dr. Jenny Phillimore (University of Birmingham, UK), Dr. Julian Reid (University of Lapland, Finland), and Dr. Rebecca Stern (Uppsala University, Sweden).

Facebook event here.

Abstract submission:

We are now opening the call for papers for the thematic workshops listed below. Please send the title of your presentation, an abstract of no more than 300 words, and your contact information (name, title, organization, and e-mail address) directly to the workshop conveners. Their contact information can be found below.

There are four workshop slots in the conference program. Each workshop slot is approximately 1.5 hour, including three paper presentations (3×20 minutes, with -/+ 10 minutes reserved for questions).

The main language of the conference is English, but also Finnish and Swedish language presentations are possible in some of the workshops.

Extended Deadline:The closing date for paper proposals is now 31 August 2018. Acceptances of proposals will be announced on 5 September 2018.

 Contact: For more information, please contact the organizers at etmu2018@gmail.comand visit the conference website at

Pre-Conference Doctoral Workshop: A pre-conference workshop will take place on the 14th of November for doctoral candidates wishing to get insight on academic publication from experienced researchers Ruth Illman (Director of Donner Institute) and Suvi Salmenniemi (professor of sociology, editor in chief of Acta Sociologica).


  1. Transnational Death Studies Interactive workshop: Approaches, Challenges, and Opportunities
  2. Political mobilizations for the rights of migrants and minorities
  3. A workshop on Research Ethics: power, trust and researcher’s positionality
  4. Theoretical and empirical approaches to undocumented migrants in Finland
  5. Constructing vulnerable identities
  6. Exploring anti-racist resistance and alternatives
  7. Ageing and vulnerability in diverse societies
  8. ‘The others’ and vulnerabilities in/of sites of power
  9. Social and institutional trust, vulnerability and resilience in migration research
  10. Tightened Immigration Regimes and Everyday (In)Security: Experiences and Strategies of Vulnerable Migrants and Their Families
  11. Critically Re-thinking Professional Development, Wellness and ‘Diversity’ for Some People in Some Organizations: But Not Others.
  12. Placemaking through active refugee positions
  13. Categorizations of Migrants: Ideologies, Negotiations and Consequences

Workshop programme

1. Transnational Death Studies Interactive workshop: Approaches, Challenges, and Opportunities

Samira Saramo, Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Researcher, John Morton Center for North American Studies, University of Turku


This interactive workshop opens up the field of Transnational Death Studies through the presentation of historical and contemporary case studies, reflection on developments in current research on migrant death, and by facilitating dialogue with participants. Samira Saramo’s research looks at death and mourning practices and narrations in the history of Finnish immigrant communities, while Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto examines family mementos and social commemoration, relating to forced displacements that took place during WWII in the Nordic-Baltic region.

Together with Hanna Snellman, Saramo and Koskinen-Koivisto have edited Transnational Death, a collection of ethnological and ethnographic studies of migrant community responses to the end of life. Analyzing current research directions and approaches in this growing international field, the workshop then asks participants to collectively question and reflect on how death, mourning, and commemoration shape migration, ethnicity, and transnational studies. Participants can share their own research experiences and methods, and pose challenges for the workshop group to collaboratively resolve in critical and creative ways.


2. Political mobilizations for the rights of migrants and minorities

Päivi Pirkkalainen, Post-doc researcher, Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of Jyväskylä

Paula Merikoski, University of Helsinki


This workshop approaches the concepts and issues of vulnerability, resilience and resistance from the point of view of political mobilisations around the issues of migration and minorities.  Migration issues have become heavily politicised in recent years. The current context in Finland, similar to many parts of the world, is characterized by growing xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiments and an increasing popularity of populist political parties opposing migration. Concurrently, there has been increasing efforts to restrict migration deemed un-desirable by various legal changes and administrative practices.

These changes have increased the vulnerability of migrant and restricted the rights of minorities. Especially vulnerable are those individuals who live in Finland without a permanent residence permit and asylum seekers who live in a precarious state of limbo for an extended period, even for years waiting for a decision on their asylum case. At the same time, groups and movements by migrants themselves and their supporters have mobilised to raise their voice, showing strong levels of resistance. Migrants and the solidarity movements supporting them have found new sites and tactics to stand up for the rights of migrants, refugees and minorities.

The media often represents the tension between anti-immigration groups and movements standing up for the rights of migrants and minorities as two extremes. In this workshop we aim to unpack such black-and-white assumptions by analysing the complexities in the field of political mobilisation for the migrants’ rights. We invite papers that deal with issues of political mobilisation, in particular the different forms of resistance around the issues of migration and minorities. We are interested in analysing new social movements for the migrants’ and refugees’ rights and their networks, tactics and lobbying power, protests for the rights of migrants and minorities, and different forms of migrants’ and refugees’ own political mobilisations. We welcome abstracts in English and in Finnish.

Poliittinen liikehdintä maahanmuuttajien ja vähemmistöjen oikeuksien puolesta

Työryhmä lähestyy konferenssin teemoja haavoittuvuudesta, sinnikkyydestä ja vastarinnasta poliittisen liikehdinnän analysoimisen kautta. Maahanmuutosta on viime vuosina tullut politisoitunut aihe. Niin Suomessa, kuin monessa maassa ympäri maailmaa poliittiselle kentälle on kehittynyt maahanmuuttovastaisia populistisia puoleita, ja ksenofobiset ja maahanmuuttovastaiset asenteet ovat olleet yleistymään päin. Epätoivotuksi katsottua maahanmuuttoa on samanaikaisesti pyritty rajoittamaan ulkomaalaislain muutosten ja hallinnon käytäntöjen tiukentamisen avulla. Nämä muutokset ovat  lisänneet siirtolaisten haavoittuvuutta ja rajoittaneet vähemmistöjen oikeuksien toteutumista.

Erityisen haavoittuvassa asemassa ovat ne henkilöt, jotka asuvat Suomessa ilman pysyvää oleskelulupaa sekä turvapaikanhakijat jotka joutuvat elämään pitkiä aikoja, jopa vuosia prekaarissa välitilassa odottaen päätöstä turvapaikkahakemukseensa. Samaan aikaan Suomessa, kuten muuallakin maailmassa, ihmiset ovat nousseet vastarintaan kasvavaa muukalaisvihamielisyyttä vastaan. Siirtolaiset, pakolaiset ja turvapaikanhakijat ovat nousseet ajamaan omia oikeuksiaan, ja uusia yhteiskunnallisia liikkeitä on syntynyt osoittamaan solidarisuutta heille.

Mediassa nämä liikkeet ja protestit esitetään usein vastakkaisena ääripäänä maahanmuuttoa vastaan organisoituneille liikkeille. Työryhmässä haastamme tällaisia mustavalkoisia oletuksia analysoimalla maahanmuuton ympärille syntyneen poliittisen liikehdinnän monimutkaista kenttää. Työryhmässämme käsittelemme aiheita liityen erityisesti poliittisiin liikehditään siirtolaisten ja vähemmistöjen oikeuksien puolesta. Olemme kiinnostuneita aiheista, jotka liittyvät uusiin yhteiskunnallisiin liikkeisiin ja niiden taktiikoihin, verkostoihin ja päätöksentekoon vaikuttamispyrkimyksiin, sekä maahanmuuttajataustaisten ihmisten poliittisen toimijuuden erilaisista muodoista.


3. A workshop on Research Ethics: power, trust and researcher’s positionality

Lotta Kokkonen

Sari Pöyhönen

Petteri Laihonen, University of Jyväskylä


Discussing research ethics forms an elementary task for any researcher on migration related themes. For example, issues of power have been widely analysed in the research literature. In addition, the importance of building trust between researchers and research participant has been often noticed and discussed, especially in qualitative, ethnographic research.

Going beyond the technical, methodological or legalistic definitions of Research Ethics, how often do we critically reflect e.g. on the personal relationship between the researcher and the researched? Typically, our publications aim at highlighting the reliability and validity of our research and seldom describe our failures on the field (but see Aaltonen & Högbacka 2015; Duncombe & Jessop 2002; Nairn, Munro & Smith 2005). In addition, on a closer look, it seems there is a need for a re-appraisal of basic concepts such as inclusive research (cf. Nind, 2014).

We invite critical reflections on the researcher-researched relationship from the point of view of power, trust, inclusion and researcher positionality. However, any contributions on research ethics are welcomed. Following the conference theme, discussions of Research Ethics especially around the concepts of Vulnerability, Resilience and Resistance are encouraged.


4. Theoretical and empirical approaches to undocumented migrants in Finland

Katri Gadd, Ph.D. Postdoc Research Fellow, URMI – Urbanization, Mobilities and Immigration, Division of geography, University of Turku

Miriam Tedeschi, Ph.D. Postdoc Research Fellow, URMI – Urbanization, Mobilities and Immigration, Division of geography, University of Turku


Irregular migration is not a new phenomenon in Finland. However, since 2015 it has received more attention as Finland encountered an exceptional inflow of asylum seekers. Some of those who did not get asylum decided to stay in Finland. Jauhiainen et al. (2018) estimated that there were around 3.000-4.000 irregular migrants in Finland in 2017, and their number is likely to grow. This has raised new questions as how the central and local governments could legally and practically address the new challenges the irregular migrants pose. Even if the central government has declared that they are illegal, and, therefore, supposed to leave, in some cases they do not. These so called new undocumented have received final rejection to their residence permit applications by the Supreme Court. Hence, they are only entitled to urgent healthcare and social services. Thus, they rely on helping individuals, NGOs or other third sector actors. Moreover, often these people keep hiding due to the fear of authorities and deportation.

This phenomenon has not been accurately studied in Finland. Nevertheless, it has apparent consequences on the bureaucratic procedures and urban policies that local institutions (municipalities, hospitals, police, schools, non-profit associations, etc.) have to arrange. Local institutions ought to organise practices so that everyone is guaranteed the livelihoods according to the Constitution of Finland, including fulfilment of basic needs as nutrition, shelter, urgent healthcare and social services.

Due to the increasing amount of irregular migrants, and, consequently, to these legal and practical difficulties local institutions meet, the need to come to a better understanding of this phenomenon has now become compelling. Moreover, the increased amount of irregular migrants might have long-term consequences on the society as a whole, which need to be unearthed and thoroughly considered.

Thus, this workshop explores, from a theoretical and an empirical point of view, how all the actors involved – irregular migrants, local municipalities, hospitals, police, schools, non-profit associations, etc. – try to negotiate their own daily survival and socio-spatial justice with laws and regulations. Indeed, the latter is materialised and enacted in radically different, and often conflicting, discourses, narratives, languages, daily practices, and, last but not least, affects and emotions. If irregular migrants need to find strategies to preserve their own life, public institutions also must find their way to guarantee their existence as fully-working systems. The different ways in which all these actors intertwine and might conflict produce a wide range of effects on how public policies on the one hand, and society on the other hand unfold and are challenged by the phenomenon.

We welcome papers addressing the irregular migration in different ways, both theoretical and practical. They can include, but are not restricted to:

  • survival strategies of irregular migrants
  • human trafficking
  • public services’ access
  • healthcare
  • children education
  • immigration law
  • safety and security
  • ethical issues


5. Constructing vulnerable identities

Maija Mustaniemi-Laakso

Viljam Engström

Mikaela Heikkilä


Vulnerability, one of the buzzwords in contemporary human rights discourse, is typically used to refer to vulnerable groups and individuals whose rights are perceived to be at a particular risk of being violated (such as children, refugees and women). Vulnerability is invoked in a strife for substantive equality, by offering special protection to those most in need. Yet, the particularization inherent to this use comes with potential problems, such as selective protection, lowering of the general level of protection, disempowerment, and loss of agency. As such, any identification of vulnerability gathers considerable politico-legal significance.

This paradox opens up for various uses of the concept of vulnerability as a means for making claims to rights. However, it also raises the question of how the vulnerable subject – the vulnerable identity – is constructed. This working group aims to challenge the on-face neutrality of the vulnerability concept and seeks to shed light on the processes through which vulnerable identities are created. Understanding such processes is central for assessing the constitutive role of the vulnerability paradigm as a tool for setting preferences and for exercising authority. An insight into the constitutive power of the vulnerability paradigm is also paramount in order to take a critical stance at vulnerability as a structural element of human rights law.


6. Exploring anti-racist resistance and alternatives

Aminkeng Atabong Alemanji, Åbo Akademi University

Leonardo Custódio, University of Tampere

Minna Seikkula, University of Helsinki


Anti-racist ideas and practices have increasingly become an object of interest in academic research in Finland and beyond. Given this, we suggest that more discussion is needed concerning challenges to conduct research on anti-racist practices. The workshop aims to encourage discussion informed by critical theorizations on race, racism and whiteness as well as methodologies that draw from intersectionality. Further, we welcome discussion on how research on anti-racism translates to practice beyond the university.

The workshop welcomes empirical and theoretical work that focuses on anti-racism – either as resistance to distinct practices of racialized hierarchization and bordering or as creating alternatives to those, for instance, by nurturing subversive identities and subjectivities.

Possible questions to explore in the workshop can entail the following themes but are not limited to these:

  • How are anti-racist practices identified in research?
  • What kind of embedded understandings of racism research on anti-racism deploys?
  • How would anti-racist research practice look like?
  • How positionality of researcher shapes research on anti-racism?
  • How can academic research on anti-racism contribute to anti-racist practices?


7. Ageing and vulnerability in diverse societies

Ulla Buchert

Anne Kouvonen

Antero Olakivi

Anna-Leena Riitaoja


Rapid population ageing has placed affluent Western societies under novel pressures. Ageing populations mean growing needs for care, support and welfare services, to which societies and states currently answer in the context of dwindling economic resources and/or policies that concentrate on economic austerity. In addition to ageing, Western populations are becoming more diverse and heterogeneous in respect to the migrant and ethnic backgrounds of their residents, mainly due to increased international migration and political recognition of diversities also within the settled majority population.

This workshop invites scholars to examine and discuss these two megatrends, that is, ageing and diversification of Western societies, in tandem. Within this emerging, understudied research area, we especially call for contributions with a focus on the emergence, recognition and management of new social and economic vulnerabilities in the context of population ageing and diversification. Possible topics of contributions include (but are not limited) to the following: barriers of older minority members to receive formal care and other welfare services; informal support networks of older people with migrant or ethnic minority backgrounds; discourses, policies and cultural categorizations that articulate or mitigate forms of diversity in the context of ageing; the construction of ageing and diversity in public services; institutional arrangements targeted for answering the care needs of ageing minorities; inequalities and differences in health, wellbeing, care and social support between ageing minority and majority populations; gendered, class-based and intersectional inequalities within ageing populations; and methodological and ethical challenges when investigating ageing and diversity in tandem.

The workshop welcomes various theoretical approaches and research methods (i.e., qualitative, quantitative and mixed). The language of the workshop is English.


8. ‘The others’ and vulnerabilities in/of sites of power

Magdalena Kmak (ÅAU, UH)  

Witold Klaus (Polish Academy of Sciences)


Vulnerability has recently become an important concept within social sciences, including migration and minority studies. In this context it has often referred to such groups as undocumented children, victims of torture or trafficking. Even though the aim of the vulnerability discourse has been to respond and mitigate these particular vulnerabilities, another discourse has been recently emerging, one that ascribes vulnerability to institutions and sites of power, such as borders. For instance, as part of the EU border policies the Vulnerability Assessment Network has been established in 2016, the aim of which is to connect the Border and Coastguard Agency (former Frontex) with Member States’ border control institutions (Article 13 of the Regulation on European Border and Coast Guard Agency). The aim of the framework is to provide vulnerability assessment of the capacity of member states to manage their external borders and prevent development of future crises (

We invite papers aiming to identify and scrutinize the vulnerability discourses linked not with conditions of individuals (perceived as ’others’) and their consequences but used rather to combat them – remove from and prevent of accessing selected places. In the new sense, the concept of vulnerability is connected with the traditionally understood institutions or particular places (like borders and other public spaces) affected by unwelcomed or ‘otherised’ group of (usually really vulnerable) people. Therefore we would invite the speakers to explore the abuse of the term vulnerability and its linkage with institutions/places as sites of power.


9. Social and institutional trust, vulnerability and resilience in migration research 

Eveliina Lyytinen, Senior Researcher, Migration Institute of Finland

Elina Turjanmaa,Doctoral Candidate, University of Helsinki


When people migrate – voluntarily or involuntarily – issues of trust and mistrust often play a part in their experiences. Not only the decision to move, but also the journey, arrival and integration in to a new society include aspects of social and institutional trust. Trust can be, for instance, analyzed as a discursively created emotion and practice which is based on reason, routine and reflexivity. Trust is often associated with risk and vulnerability, and it is also closely interconnected with resilience. When examined, particularly in relation to migration, certain aspects of trust are useful to be critically reflected upon, such as scales and orientations, contexts, individual characteristics, and time.

In the Finnish context, trust towards institutions, as well as towards other people, seems to be higher among immigrant population than among natives. However, migrants’ generalized and social trust decreases over time in Finland, approaching the trust levels of natives. In other words, migrants integrate to the general levels of trust in the Finnish society. The studies have shown that several things, such as the country of origin, ethnicity, gender, age, and reasons behind migration, affect migrants’ levels of trust.

In forced migration studies, there is debate about how much the culture and society of the refugee’s country of origin, which have often been affected by violence and conflict, contributes to social and institutional trust in exile. It has also been suggested that there are varying perceptions as to whether or not there is something inherent in the ‘refugee experience’ that leads to a shortage of trust. Consequently, mistrust has emerged as an increasing outcome of the study of trust with respect to refugees.

Trust research is an expanding multidisciplinary field, also within migration studies. However, it still faces many challenges, such as the lack of a general theory, the lack of a widely accepted definition of trust, and the lack of a generally accepted measure of trust. These challenges do not hinder trust-related migration research, but rather provide opportunities to critically reflect on the state of trust research, and to expand theoretical and empirical research on migrations and trust.

In this open workshop, we invite papers exploring various aspects of migrations from the perspective of (mis)trust. The theoretical and/or empirical presentations, which can be held in Finnish or in English, may include reflections on:

  • How can trust be conceptualized and theorized in (forced/voluntary) migration studies?
  • How are issues of trust and mistrust linked with migrants’ vulnerability and resilience?
  • How does trust vary during the different migratory phases (e.g. departure, journey, arrival, integration)?
  • What are the most suitable quantitative and/or qualitative methods to conduct research on trust in migration studies?


10. Tightened Immigration Regimes and Everyday (In)Security: Experiences and Strategies of Vulnerable Migrants and Their Families

Abdirashid IsmailSenior researcher, Migration Institute of Finland

Johanna LeinonenSenior researcher, Migration Institute of Finland

Marja TiilikainenSenior researcher, Migration Institute of Finland


Immigration is increasingly framed as an issue of national security in Europe. Previous research has scrutinized securitization in a variety of contexts; however, the ways in which people, in particular vulnerable migrants, experience the effect of securitization in their everyday lives has received less attention. Thus, this workshop creates a forum for discussing the impact of the recent tightened immigration policies on the everyday (in)security of vulnerable migrants and their families.

Securitization refers to the ways in which political actors appeal to national security in order to justify measures that would not be acceptable “normally” (Wæver 1995; Buzan et al. 1998). In this workshop, following Crawford and Hutchinson (2015), everyday security is understood as the lived realities resulting from securitizing moves by the state: how individuals interpret, experience, adapt to, and resist security projects, and how they attempt to create their own security in everyday life.

The guiding questions of the workshop include: How do the new immigration policies impact on the everyday security of vulnerable migrants in Europe and their families in the countries of origin? How do the new policies affect the family reunification prospects of vulnerable migrants, or the relationship between migrants and their families both locally and transnationally? How effective are these new policies in countering the “pull factors” in the destination countries? What strategies do vulnerable migrants employ to enhance their social, economic, and emotional security? What resources and networks do they draw upon to organize and improve their everyday security? How do gender, age, migration, class status, and other factors shape the experiences of vulnerable migrants and their families?

This workshop seeks to deepen our knowledge on the interplay between the migration policies of the state and the experiences and agency of vulnerable migrants and their families. It also tries to contribute to the conceptualization of everyday (in)security. Therefore, we seek to attract theoretical, conceptual, and empirical papers drawing on different disciplines that explore the nexus between immigration legislation/policies and everyday (in)security.


11. Critically Re-thinking Professional Development, Wellness and ‘Diversity’ for Some People in Some Organizations: But Not Others.

Docent David Hoffman, Senior Researcher, PhD, Finnish Institute for Educational Research, University of Jyväskylä.

Johanna Ennser-Kananen, PhD, Research Collegium for Language in Changing Society, Department of Language and Communication Studies & Centre for Applied Language Studies, University of Jyväskylä.


The theme of the 2018 ETMU Conference is ‘vulnerability, resilience and resistance in diverse societies’. While this theme is welcomed, it is worth critically re-thinking the limitations and assumptions raised by the keywords combined in this year’s theme.
 Against the backdrop of 21st century discourses about migration, mobilities and internationalization, a critical framing of the term ‘diversity’ illuminates emerging gaps in knowledge, legislation, literature, policy and practices. Societies are increasingly presented as ‘diverse’ in unproblematic, valorized or even naive ways which do not always stand up to critically rigorous research. This is particularly the case when contrasting concrete social settings, situations, occupational sectors or organizations which are quite diverse versus those which are not.
This working group invites papers that question assumptions and practices that miss or ignore these types of contrasts within the same community, school, company, profession or setting. We argue these contrasts are often subtly obscured by glass ceilings, unquestioned normative practices and sets of rationalizations that are assumed to be addressed by overly-optimistic diversity discourse. Looking at identical contrasts from a de-colonial perspective aiming to get better traction on intersectionality and neoracism may offer more realistic analyses and opportunities for impact.
Concretely, this workshop focuses on professional development in general and wellness in particular in multifaceted, rapidly evolving and demanding fields like higher education and research-intensive occupational sectors. These are in our focus because they map on to both widely acknowledged needs of Finland’s labor market, driven by the rapid retirement of the oldest working age population in the EU. Our workshop is for scholars, policy-makers, practitioners and stakeholders focused on or working in sectors like ICT, health care and higher education which are quite diverse in some settings, organizational levels and in some types of positions – but not others. In addition, our working group is designed to zoom in on specific settings that welcome diversity that includes individuals from some groups – but not others.
We argue that sector-specific professional development explains recruitment, selection, promotion and retention within and across the most interesting, challenging and demanding occupational sectors and organizations in Finland, as well as the EU and further afield. The 2018 ETMU conference theme invites questions like:
  • Where, when and with whom is it safe to open up and be vulnerable in highly competitive settings – or is it ever? Is this different for some individuals from some social backgrounds – but not others?
  • Do employees with a migrant background need more resilience than native Finnish counterparts doing exactly the same job in exactly the same position? Or might diversity demand new types of resilience for native-staff? Might state-of-the-art practices regarding wellness help? Are these available to everyone?
  • When highly contested discourses like ‘diversity’ are presented as self evident, uncritically and unproblematic, are we training the next generation to critically engage unquestioned assumptions and resist if warranted? Is it professionally wise to call out discourse that perpetuates a lack of diversity – while paradoxically pretending to promote it? Or does this depend on your social background?
  • Does professional development in your field, organization or profession prepare personnel, regardless of their social background, for the unproblematized dilemmas, paradoxes, contradictions and wellness challenges currently avoided within many occupational sectors, organizations or professions? Or is professional development and wellness only meant for some – not others?
 This workshop specifically invites scholars, policy-makers, practitioners, students and stakeholders who find themselves caught up between unquestioned assumptions and unproblematized realities of 21st century migration, mobilities, and internationalization within Finland’s most demanding institutions, organizations and professions. While much research on migration is aimed at the margins of society and marginalized groups, this year’s conference theme allows us to focus on ‘diversity’ – or the lack of it – where it power relations are created and perpetuated.

Scholars, policy-makers, practitioners, students, and stakeholders interested in critical analysis of professional development, wellness – and the access to both – are welcome to this working group hosted by the Migration, Mobilities and Internationalization Research Group (miGroup) co-located in the Centre for Applied Language Studies (CALS/SOLKI) and the Finnish Institute for Educational Research (FIER/KTL) at the University of Jyväskylä.


12. Placemaking through active refugee positions

Lisa Ekmann, NORD University, PhD candidate, Norway


Refugee youth of today have been subjected into problematizing and marginalizing discourses by the majority culture. Defining refugees as traumatized victims can alienate refugees from inclusion into society (Hutchinson & Dorsett, 2012; Sleijpen, Boeije, Kleber, & Mooren, 2016). Migration studies should avoid “group imaginations” that solely refer to national and ethnic belongings without inquiring into context and individual background (Youkhana, 2015). Young refugees own experiences according to the integration process has earlier received little attention. There has been a call for a shift toward positioning young migrants as active agents of social inclusion (Kirpitchenko & Mansouri, 2014), with self-determination, growth potential, and sense of agency. The notion of resilience can shed light on these aspects (Munt, 2012), referring to protective factors that explain how people adapt to adverse conditions. Refugee resilience is often understood in reference to individual, inner traits alone. It should emphasis both refugee people’s personal strengths and abilities, external supports, and incorporate anti-oppressive inclusive practices that reinforce refugee resilience, rather than emphasize refugee trauma.

Refugees struggle with notions of identity, belonging, attachment and local community. The necessity to belong to groups is crucial. People who have a strong sense of community have increased chances of remaining well. The notion of translocality refer to relationships among people within a place through everyday activities. The local is a base for experiences and meaning making, but social networks and relations to other places also are a part of how people attach to a new place (Mathisen & Stenbacka, 2015). In turn, the practices and identities of young people are active in shaping and reshaping places. Individuals engage in placemaking when they construct knowledge and meanings in relation to the various places they encounter, and involves understanding oneself in relation to these places. Placemaking is about world-making in a broad sense, the practice has the power to create spheres of family, community, and belonging. Each act of placemaking embodies a vision of who we are and offers a hope of what we want to be as individuals and as groups who share a place in the world (Denov & Akesson, 2013).

Relevant questions for the workshop could be:

  • How does refugees utilise diverse pathways to construct personal resilience?
  • How does protective factors enhance a person’s capacity to adapt to and make relations on a new place?
  • How does individual background and local context interplay in the process of social inclusion?
  • How are inclusive and exclusive mechanisms on a new place crucial to the ability to perform active refugee positions?
  • How could inclusion be understood in different geographical or social contexts (for instance in a local community, at the work place/school, in the social network)
  • How does the relation to earlier “stretched out places” make preconditions for meaning-making and building relations on a new place?
  • How does refugees connect with others and create a sense of community, thereby creating a place for one self?

The workshop also welcomes discussions of how these questions could be managed methodologically.


13. Categorizations of Migrants: Ideologies, Negotiations and Consequences

Päivi Iikkanen

Katarzyna Kärkkäinen

Nina Sivunen

Katharina Ruuska


Categorization is a device that helps us organize naturally “messy” everyday experiences (Douglas 2000: 46-52). As people try to overcome this mess, they give meanings and divide things into different categories using various classification systems. According to Sacks, Jefferson and Schegloff (1992: 40) “a great deal of the knowledge that members of a society have about the society is stored in terms of these categories”. The wealth of knowledge stored in the categories forms a cultural fund of knowledge, by utilizing which, people construct their understanding of the society, themselves and others (Juhila 2004: 21).

Although categorization can help us organize the messy reality, it may have adverse consequences on the individuals being placed in certain categories. The social category of ‘immigrant’ is used to describe people of hugely varied backgrounds, forcing individuals to negotiate their position in society in relation to these assumed characteristics (Huttunen 2004: 138-139). On the other hand, bearing markers of a high social status (e.g. Western origin, skills in high-status languages such as English, background of voluntary migration) can lead to people not being perceived as ‘immigrants’ at all (Leinonen 2012: 249). For example, it has been suggested (Ekqvist & Pylkkä 2016: 56) that Finnish professionals who work with immigrants often categorize their customers on the basis of their reason for migrating. Refugees may be seen as reflecting a “stronger” immigrant status than people who have come to Finland because of marriage, work or study.

The aim of this workshop is to shed light on how different groups of migrants may be categorized, how individuals negotiate their identities and position in response to these categorizations, and what role e.g. language and ideologies play in this process. We are interested, for example, in how processes of categorization are related to educational or career opportunities, the types of public services offered, the general reception of newcomers by the larger society, as well as renegotiations of category-based identities. Contexts discussed include highly proficient adult speakers and users of Finnish as a second language, English-speaking voluntary migrants, deaf migrants and asylum seekers, as well as migrants in vocational education, and we invite further contributions relevant to the topic of the workshop.

Languages of the workshop: Finnish, English, Finnish sign language.

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