Ongoing Projects

Dwelling with Crisis: Home at Spaces of Chronic Violence (HOMCRI; ERC Consolidator Grant 2023-2028; PI: Mikko Joronen)

This project elaborates ways of making home among those dwelling in societies facing prolonged crises. It traverses through various landscapes to look at ways in which people make home in spaces that are familiar, yet repelling, incapacitating and altogether negating in nature. Such landscapes, notably in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, reflect various forms of crises engendered around economic collapse, infrastructural shortage, protracted conflict-situation and/or continuation of war by other means. These crises force us to pose a key question on what it means to stay, and make a home, in spaces that constantly expose life to disruptions, incapacitations, and material negations? How does one dwell in crisis?

The project responds to this research challenge via ground-breaking research that goes beyond the state-of-art on three fronts. Firstly, it generates vast empirical knowledge on what it takes to dwell in crisis and conflict areas, and with the political conditions they establish, by focusing on spaces that violently separate, distance, and amputate people from their familiar everyday spaces through constant affective disruptions, material deprivations, and conditions of incapacitation. Secondly, it does so by developing negativity as a novel methodological tool for approaching dwelling as a tension between ‘home-making’ and ‘spaces of exposure’. Thirdly, it offers a novel conceptual elaboration of negativity as a worldly condition, which challenges the paradigmatic notions of materiality, affect and dwelling in current posthuman thought. Designed for high-gain outputs, the project takes a high risk in offering ground-breaking research that aims to fundamentally rethink the negative foundations of human-world relationship by focusing on ways in which negative material and affective bindings align with incapacitating political conditions in prolonged crisis and conflict situations.

Acting upon and amid failure: limits of agency in crisis-hit Lebanon (2023-2027; PI: Tiina Järvi)

In the past decade, Lebanon has witnessed an accelerating number of crises that have showcased the malfunctioning of the state and its structures. Waste crisis, water crisis, electricity crisis, multiple political crises, dollar crisis, petroleum crisis, hyperinflation, and several shortages, are but examples of the grievances faced by those living in Lebanon. The covid pandemic, the port explosion in 2020 with its political aftermath and the bread shortage created by the war in Ukraine have increased discontent, but they are by no means its starting point. In fact, since the civil war (1975–1990) there have been little significant changes in Lebanon’s political priorities (Arsan 2018, Salloukh 2015), no concentration on the welfare of ordinary citizens. By 2022, media, international actors and Lebanese civil society were describing Lebanon as collapsed, failing, or already failed state. This research explores the situation in Lebanon by elaborating the concept of failure to ask what it means to live and act in a failing state. By combining ground-up ethnographic fieldwork practice with analysis of policy papers on and political and social responses to the current situation on Lebanon, the research project provides a novel approach to state failure. This is achieved by going beyond the idea of a failed state as a security threat, by rather allowing the voices of those who act amid it to be heard.

The research project draws from geographical and anthropological literature on failure (Amin 2016, Musallam 2020, Osborne 2019, Perrons and Posocco 2009, Smith and Woodcraft 2020), and connects them to the emerging literature on ‘geographies of negative’ (Bissel et al 2021). The focus is on the notion of limit, in particular, as it allows to acknowledge agency as constrained. I am interested in what happens if we see failure not as something that can be left behind and learned from (Carroll et al 2017: 3), but as something that exposes the limits of doing. This approach enables taking seriously the rupturing aspects of failure, to see it as something that continues to curtail and destroy capacities (Philo 2017) rather than as something that allows creativity and innovations to emerge (Lewis 2014).

War and geos’ project (ERC Starting Grant, 2023-2028; PI: Mark Griffiths)

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Dwelling Exposed: Posthuman Amputations, Affectual Disruptions, and Politics of Material Deprivation (Tampere Institute for Advanced Studies, 2022-2024; PI: Mikko Joronen)

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Finished Projects

Present-futures in/of Palestine (Academy of Finland, 2019-2023, PI: Mikko Joronen)

This project examines the future anticipations, expectations, and prospect behind the present realities and ongoing developments in the occupied Palestine. It focuses on the spatialisation of what is called the ‘present-futures’ at several key West Bank sites in order to unfold Palestinian futures through the ongoing practices on the ground. It aims analyses what kind of Palestinian futures these ongoing realities rely on, and how the indefinite nature of the future operates as a source for different, even opposing contemporary acts and hopes. A manifold picture of the present-futures is thus painted, a one that asks what kind of future events the present acts engender, while also acknowledging the ways in which the anticipated future-events deeply affect the ongoing practices of governing and everyday life in the occupied territories. By looking at spatially embedded explication of present-futures it aims offer a reality-grounded lens for what the Palestinian futures might look like.

Visa conditions (British Academy, 2019-2023; PI: Mark Griffiths)

Israel controls all border entry points into Palestine and thus determines the legal status of the international citizens (including 100s of UK/EU nationals) who live and work in East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank. Many of them work in sectors for which the current Israeli government is restricting visitor and residency visas,

including: NGOs, human rights organisations, academia, journalism and development agencies (UNRWA, EU, DfID). Existing research indicates that this recent tightening of visa restrictions has increased the threat of deportation and anxieties around denied (re)entry and that this affects people’s roles at both home and work. This means also that the personal and political lives of Palestinians connected to those roles are affected by the prospect of losing family, collaborators and colleagues. The objective of this research is thus to examine the effects of visa precarity in Palestine on family, social and political life.

Power of precarity: everydayness of government and resistance in the occupied West Bank (Academy of Finland, 2017-2022; PI: Mikko Joronen)

This project focuses on the politics of precarity as it emerges in the matrix of everyday life in the occupied Palestinian territories. It looks at the manifold ways in which precarity operates as a technique of government that Israel uses to advance its settler colonial aims, but also as a condition that engenders new political and social forms of everyday life, action and solidarity. It problematises the notions of power, governing and violence in particular, asking how they are related to the vulnerability of acting and living. By doing so, the project shows how the idea of precarity affords a useful starting point for analyzing the structures of the occupation, but also for understanding the practices of everyday resistance.

Checkpoints (British Academy/Leverhulme 2018-2019; PI: Mark Gtiffiths)

Work on this project focuses on checkpoints as differentiating, gendered and biopolitical sites. This involves analysis of the effects of commuting through checkpoints for Palestinian labourers and the demands on time and wellbeing in terms of anxiety, frustration, humiliation, stress and so forth. Attention is focused also beyond the checkpoint on the lives of people in the ‘borderlands’ whose mobilities are controlled by colonial border infrastructure even as they may not (attempt to) cross with any frequency.