Space and Political Agency Research Group (SPARG) is a multidisciplinary research group specializing in the study of intersections between politics, space and agency. Between 2014 and 2019 SPARG was part of the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in Research on the Relational and Territorial Politics of Bordering, Identities and Transnationalization (RELATE)

SPARG aims to generate high quality fundamental research with both academic and applied impact. Our work is organized through four research streams with flexible boundaries, allowing us to collaborate across them. We collaborate with the Research Program on the Politics of Space and the Environment (POLEIS).

In general, our theoretical and empirical research aims to develop new perspectives to understand political subjectivity and subject formation, and on this basis the conditions of possibility of political agency, transnational political engagement, place attachment, governance and participation. We consider these processes deeply implicated in socio-spatial contexts that should be understood beyond simple dichotomies such as topographical/topological or relational/territorial. Our key analytical lens bridging these conceptual positions is subjectivity, opening at once a range of questions concerning the forces of (spatial) socialization, modalities of space, agency, identity, alterity, domination, and resistance.

Reseach in SPARG is organized through four research streams

Spaces of political agency
This stream studies how relational and territorial spaces of political agency come together in actually existing forms of mundane political agency. The aim is to overcome scalar dichotomies, such as national/international, local/global or micro/macro in the analysis of political practices and processes. A major aim is to understand the social dynamism of transnationalization and demonstrate how the intertwinement of topological and topographical processes effect on social and political practices.

Citizenship and governance
This stream studies the ways in which contemporary modes of governance operate by producing govermental and territorial frames for governance. An interesting question is how framings effect citizen’s possibility to politicize issues and act as citizens in relation to governmental practices operating on various scales and in different (post)conflict societies. This work seeks to analyze what citizens’ political leverage is under various governmental conditions.

Forced displacement and the experience of place
This stream seeks to analyze the forced displacement and humanitarian migration from the points of view of political agency, spatial belonging and the politics of memory. The research targets politics embedded in different performative practices by people in vulnerable positions (asylum seekers, children and youth, sans-papiers, and other subaltern groups). A key question is what conditions and enables performative politics in situations of forced displacement.

Spatial socialization and subject formation
This stream analyzes processes through which people become members of and agents in their political worlds. In this regard, political subjectivity is a key concept in bridging the processes of socialization and subject formation through people’s active involvement in matters they consider important. Subjectivity is understood as intersubjectively constituted and spatially contextual. In practical terms, the research targets people in situations characterized by moments that are formative of political subjectivity, and that thus require people to become attentive to their geosocial and political positionality.