Francisco Martinez: Keeping Things in the Dark. An Ethnography of Basements in Eastern Estonia.

Francisco gave a talk about basements in Eastern Estonia. During the last three years, has has visited thirty-seven storing spaces in different towns of Eastern Estonia to investigate which things are kept and which practices take place therein. Francisco outlined how basements operate as the backstage of a home, whereby the dialectic between what is hidden (reserved just for our own sight) and what is shown to others is intensively played. 

Here is his talk

And the following discussion

Francisco Martínez is an anthropologist dealing with contemporary issues of material culture through ethnographic experiments. In 2018, he was awarded with the Early Career Prize of the European Association of Social Anthropologists. Currently, he works at Tampere University and convenes the Collaboratory for Ethnographic Experimentation (EASA Network). Francisco has published several books, including Ethnographic Experiments with Artists, Designers and Boundary Objects (UCL Press, 2021); Remains of the Soviet Past in Estonia (UCL Press, 2018); and Repair, Brokenness, Breakthrough (Berghahn, 2019). Also, he has curated different exhibitions.

Anthropology researchers’ letter of support for the striking students in the University Main Building

As a community of researchers in Social and Cultural Anthropology, we stand in solidarity with students who occupy the Main Building of the University of Helsinki.

We fully support their demands, which are the following:
    • No cuts of housing subsidies. On the contrary, the living conditions of all students — including international students — must be improved. More affordable housing must be constructed!
    • No tuition fees for anyone! Not now and not ever. Access to education should not be commercialised!
    • Mental health services for students must be guaranteed.
    • Universities must stand behind our demands and show solidarity!
    • We demand that the university takes a stand against racist immigration policies that further discriminate against international students and defends the possibility for students to concentrate on their studies without worrying about their livelihood, regardless of their nationality.
The planned cuts and restrictions make it significantly more difficult for students to focus on their studies and succeed in them. It will lead to postponed time of graduation and to students dropping out. It increases unjust access to higher education, when economic support from families becomes ever more important and the precarious situation of international students puts their studies at risk. It is a question of equal access to education, a feature of the Finnish education system that has previously been valued and cherished but is now being jeopardized even further.

We salute the progressive articulation of students’ demands, which go beyond a narrow focus on national borders and white students only. While the university is willing to brand itself as “international”, the costs of this “internationalization” are downloaded upon international students and their families, who must acquire debt to get their residence permits, accept precarious low-paid jobs and navigate racist labour and housing markets.

We appreciate CEREN’s initiative in this matter and thank CEREN’s researchers for formulating this statement. We invite other teaching and research staff of the University of Helsinki to support students’ demands and show solidarity with those who are especially affected by the cuts and racist immigration policies put forward by the new government.

Anthropology Researchers Collective

Contact persons:

Matti Eräsaari,

Roberta Raffaeta: Crossing ecosystems, crossing ontologies. How microbiome science is remaking what does it means to be human

Roberta Raffaeta and Sarah Green standing in front of a lecture hall.

Roberta Raffaeta (Università Ca’ Foscari Venezia) gave a talk entitled “Crossing ecosystems, crossing ontologies. How microbiome science is remaking what does it means to be human” at the visiting seminar on the 20th of January 2023.

Continue reading “Roberta Raffaeta: Crossing ecosystems, crossing ontologies. How microbiome science is remaking what does it means to be human”

Anna Sokolova: ‘Red Fever’: State Timber Production and Commercial Berry Harvesting in Late Soviet Karelia

Black and white photo of man sawing a tree with a hand-saw.

Anna Sokolova (Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies) gave a talk on the 1st of February 2023 entitled: ‘Red Fever’: State Timber Production and Commercial Berry Harvesting in Late Soviet Karelia.

In my talk, I will address the case of commercial berry harvesting in northern Soviet Karelia during 1970s. My research is based on field and archival research in the Muezersky and Louhsky districts of Karelia, conducted in 2018-2021. The main focus of the research is everyday life and practices in timber production settlements during 1960-1980s.

Continue reading “Anna Sokolova: ‘Red Fever’: State Timber Production and Commercial Berry Harvesting in Late Soviet Karelia”

Online exhibition: Human traces in the landscape

Online exhibition: Human traces in the landscape
The online exhibition Human traces in the landscape conveys impressions and sentiments from rapidly changing frontier areas in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. (Visit the exhibition at:


On the frontiers of Southeast Asia, far from the centres of power, people’s lives and landscapes are rapidly changing and environmental problems caused by the commodification of nature are common.


These frontiers may seem distant, but through the global market economy, they are directly linked to the lives of people in Finland. Frontiers are the sources of raw materials of daily commodities. For example, cocoa, rubber, and oil palm is cultivated on frontiers – all of them raw materials for commonly used consumer products. The inhabitants of these frontiers produce their own subsistence as well as these raw materials and try to live amidst uncertain markets and environmental changes.


Through photographs and videos, the exhibition showcases life on the frontiers of Central Kalimantan (Indonesia) and Pomio (Papua New Guinea), old and new livelihoods as well as changes brought by natural resource projects.


The exhibition is based on a research project, in which the project members have studied the frontiers through participant observation and digital methods. Findings of the project have been published in scientific articles and books. Researchers Anu Lounela and Tuomas Tammisto have taken ethnographic photographs in Central Kalimantan and East Pomio. Indonesian photographers Agus Kusnadi and Rifky have photographed and filmed life in Central Kalimantan. Anne Mari-Ahonen has designed and curated the exhibition. The cooperation of experienced Indonesian documentarists, Finnish researchers and a professional curator presents unique insights into the life on frontiers.