Ongoing Projects

The following ongoing projects are affiliated with Research Centre on Transnationalism and Transformation (TRANSIT):

The Politics of Embodied Encounters in Asylum Seeking (POEMS) (Faculty of Management and Business)

The research concerns embodied encounters between asylum seekers, the migration regime, and societies that host refugees. The project is divided into three research tasks: 1) analysis of European Union and Finnish asylum policies; 2) the study of encounters in asylum application process; and 3) an ethnographic study of experiences of personhood in everyday encounters.

Embodied political presence is studied as an asset that asylum seekers have when encountering migration governance that often seeks to reduce them into manageable bodies. The research draws from philosophical anthropology with an understanding of human corporeality as a duality of objective and subjective embodiment embedded in reflexivity. In practical terms, we look into the potential of corporeality as an interface between political subjectivity and agency that may be consequential for improved dialogue with host societies. The project will increase our understanding of the political dynamism of asylum and refuge.

Researchers: Jouni Häkli (PI, leader of RT1, RT2), Kirsi Pauliina Kallio (leader of RT3), Gintarė Kudžmaitė (postdoctoral research fellow).

Duration: 1.9.2021–31.8.2025
Funding: Academy of Finland, Research Council for Culture and Society

De-Colonial and De-Cold War Dialogues on Childhood and Schooling (Faculty of Education and Culture)

Through autobiographic, autoethnographic, and collective biography studies of childhoods and schooling in (post)socialist spaces, this project aims to produce alternative histories to inform current research and thinking about the (post)socialist pasts, presents, and futures in different geographic locations. It seeks to decenter the ‘master narratives’ of both (post)socialism and modern childhood in order to open spaces for sharing more complicated and varied accounts. On the one hand, by moving beyond the implicit or explicit reproductions of Cold War binaries – perhaps most vividly captured in the spatial partitioning of the world according to the three-worlds ideology – we attempt to create spaces for sharing untold stories, giving new meanings to (personal) histories, and revisiting forgotten relations between space and time, while trying to avoid romanticization and nostalgia. On the other hand, by decentering narratives that constituted a binary of ‘Western’ and ‘socialist’ childhoods and the socialization frameworks that constructed children as passive receivers of societal norms, we aim to better understand our lived experiences re-narrated through memories.

The project seeks to “destabilise and erode the established and fixed geocultural, disciplinary and epistemic models, be they Western, non-Western, Northern or Southern” (Tlostanova et al., 2016, 216). Collective biography as a post-structural and decolonial space  provides a possibility to create alternatives to the contemporary academy as an institution fostering individualism, extractivism, competitiveness, and narrow specialisation. In societal engagements, scholarly writing and research activities we seek to flatten hierarchies and inequalities, question and cross borders dividing arts and research, and foreground interdependence and ethical obligations toward the more-than-human.

The project is led by professor Zsuzsa Millei, associate professor Nelli Piattoeva and professor Iveta Silova. For more information, visit here.

Transnational Knowledge Networks in Higher Education Policymaking (Faculty of Education and Culture)

This project is led by professor Jaakko Kauko, and involves researchers Katri Eeva, Jarmo Kallunki, Paula Saarinen and Joni Forsell. It examines the operation of transnational knowledge networks in higher education policymaking in the context of Finland and the EU. These networks are cross-sectoral entities, formed in formal and informal relationships between policy actors and their affiliated groups. Using a mixed-method research design, the project is organized around three foci:  

  1. Relationality of knowledge: using network analysis, it maps the members of knowledge networks and their relations with Finnish–EU higher education networks. 
  2. Normative selection of knowledge in the policy process is examined by means of interviews with policy actors composing the networks. 
  3. Soft power of transnational networks is manifested in how knowledge is translated, shaped, and used in these networks’ policymaking processes, and is studied through observation data collected from key meetings and public events. 

The project resides with the EduKnow research group and is funded by the Academy of Finland in

Drawing Together: Relational Wellbeing in the Lives of Young Refugees in Finland, Norway and Scotland (Faculty of Education and Culture)

This project combines art and research, and works with young refugees, who have arrived in their new home countries as unaccompanied asylum-seeking minors and are now adults. Over a period of three years, it examines how participants draw and describe their important social networks and relationships that matter for them. Through a series of art workshops and interviews, the project explores how participants’ social networks flow and evolve over time. In addition researchers interview people whom participants nominate as a ‘value person’ in their social networks. In this way the study considers how Finns, Norwegians and the Scots make room for these young refugees in their countries. The main focus is on mutuality, hospitality and reciprocity. The stories collected in the project are about building peace and prosperity for each other as an expression of relational wellbeing.

The project is led by Ravi Kohli (University of Bedfordshire, UK, Project leader), Mervi Kaukko (Project manager, Faculty of Education and Culture); other MTT members are Fath E Mubeen and Nick Haswell. The project is funded by NordForsk in 2020-2024. For more information, visit the project web-site Drawing Together Project.

What enables refugee background students’ educational success? ‘Zooming in’ on the practice architectures of multicultural learning environments (Faculty of Education and Culture)

Finnish schools are welcoming increasing numbers of refugee background students. Despite their fragmented educational histories and challenging backgrounds, many settle quickly and start to succeed. These more positive stories of refugee education are not told, because they get overridden by well-meaning but counterproductive stories of victimhood. In this research, Mervi Kaukko invites recently arrived refugee children to use microcameras (GoPro) to document the ebb and flow of their everyday school lives. Then, the children are asked to identify moments when they felt successful, considering ‘success’ open-endedly as consisting of academic and social achievements as well as more invisible factors that make them feel positive in school. She analyses these moments together with the children through a practice lens, focusing on what other people (children and adults) are doing and saying, how they are relating to one another, and what site-specific arrangements enable or constrain their practices. The insights will contribute to new, strengths-based theory and practice in refugee education.

The project is led by associate professor Mervi Kaukko and funded by the Academy of Finland in 2020-2023.

The role of Finnish experts working in international organisations in influencing decision-making and activities addressing the global learning crisis (Faculty of Management and Business)

The project is a follow up of the ‘Stepping up Finland’s Global Role in Education’ report (2018), in which it is recommended that Finland should strengthen its voice on international organisations and forums, and better utilize its human resources in education and development. The project is commissioned by Ministry for Foreign Affairs.

The main aim of the study is to identify the extent to which, to date, Finnish education sector experts and actors have been positioned in strategic multilateral vacancies, projects, advisory and working groups, platforms and inter-governmental bodies related to education in countries of the ‘Global South’, and to discuss and analyse the influence/impact of Finnish expertise in these organisations and forums. The study examines closer cases of key positions of influence held by Finnish experts in the past and present, successful project partnerships and career paths of Finnish experts working in education development in general and addressing the ‘Global learning crisis’ most specifically.

The project is led by the Faculty of Management and Business in collaboration with the Faculty of Education and Culture, and Unit for Pedagogic Innovations and Culture at Tampere University of Applied Sciences.

More information, contact Dr Elias Pekkola or Íris Santos

Exploring environmental aspects of relational wellbeing in the lives of young refugees (Faculty of Education and Culture)

In this doctoral research project, Nick Haswell combines the disciplines of environmental and multicultural education to explore environmental aspects of relational wellbeing in the lives of young refugees. This project links with the broader international research project, Drawing Togetherand zooms in on the complex and under-studied roles that the environment- including ‘natural’ and ‘built’ environment- play in enabling or inhibiting the wellbeing of young refugees settling in new countries, cultures and environments. The research draws on arts-based and traditional research methods to examine how environment-related elements emerge in young refugees’ visual (artmaking) and verbal (semi-structured interviews) expressions about relational wellbeing. The findings of this research may help to improve future decision-making when planning urban welfare services or urban school development for multicultural contexts. 

For more information, contact Nick Haswell at firstname.lastname at tuni.fi

Building food literacy, food justice and food sovereignty in Africa: from household to continent (Faculty of Education and Culture)

Hunger and unequal food access in the wake of COVID, climate change, conflict and the capture of food systems by multi-national corporations are deeply entrenched in capitalism and colonial thinking. This appreciative participatory action research brings together young children and elders to forage, store, prepare and cultivate indigenous food and medicinal plants in multiple locations with diverse participants, local initiatives and groups. The relational theoretical framework links the labours of plants with the labours of people, drawing on ubuntu philosophy and other indigenous knowledge systems. This research builds on a recent African online conference and responds to the primary challenge of food justice and literacy. In the initial one-year funding period, two active citizen groups will start to engage in participatory action research with the aim of creating change through collaboration. The focus will be on practical activities and conversation. Through dialogue, this project will initiate and contribute to building a meshwork of independent networks, including existing initiatives, governmental bodies, NGOs, citizen groups etc. for mutual learning, conversation, and action across Africa. It will reinvigorate intergenerational story-telling especially around heritage food practices. The local learnings will be documented both in an online atlas, such as the Feral Atlas (by Anna Tsing) and made freely available in paper atlas format. Low data digital formats will also be explored.

The project is led by professor Zsuzsa Millei with seed funding during 2022 provided by GINTL (Ministry of Education and Culture’s Global Innovation Network for Learning and Teaching).
For more information contact Norma Rudolph at firstname.lastname at tuni.fi or Professor Zsuzsa Millei.