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,

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.

Friday seminar 25.9.: Loretta Ieng Tak Lou’s talk on freeganism and freecycling in Hong Kong 

The Friday anthropology seminars are finally coming back on September 25th. We are beginning with Loretta Lou’s talk on freeganism and freecycling in Hong Kong (see below).  The seminars will be held 4:15 – 5:45 pm on Fridays this semester, because of the time difference for some of our speakers.

Loretta Ieng Tak Lou, University of Macau and LSE will give a paper Freedom as ethical practices: on the possibility of freedom through freeganism and freecycling in Hong Kong  on Friday, 25th September, 4:15 pm – 5:45 pm, Zoom


Although the idea of freedom has been well studied as an ideal in political philosophy, relatively little scholarship has focused on the human experience of freedom. Drawing on ethnographic research between 2012 and 2013, I examine how freedom was achieved by people who practice freeganism and freecycling in Hong Kong. I show that the freedom that these people pursue, either individually or collectively, is not a freedom without constraints but a freedom that must be attained through the exercise of deliberation, restraint, and self-discipline. While freegans seek liberation by withdrawing from the world and practicing self-cultivation (chushi asceticism), freecyclers do so by engaging with worldly affairs in order to create social changes (rushi asceticism). In both cases, by reimagining freedom as ethical practices rather than a right that comes naturally with birth, freegans and freecyclers in Hong Kong are able to experience moments of freedom despite inevitable structural constraints.

Dr Loretta Ieng Tak Lou is a Lecturer in the Department of Sociology at the University of Macau, and currently a Visiting Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Sciences (LSE). Contact her:

The Zoom Link:

Meeting ID: 649 3802 4243 Passcode: AnthSems




Doctor Andrew Graan discussing fake news and anthropology on PoLAR

[…] So, where does fake news figure into all of this? I would like to suggest that fake news—both as deliberately false news stories and as a political epithet—constitutes a particular way of participating in a public. Let me explain.

Doctor Andrew Graan was invited to participate in Political and Legal Anthropology Review’s online series ‘Emergent Conversations’ with Meg Stalcup from the University of Ottawa and Adam Hodges from the University of Colorado Boulder.  In this conversation, the researchers share their views on fake news, disinformation, and political propaganda. Below you can find a link to the first part of the conversation below.

Truth vs Post-truth by Martin Shovel (
Read more here!

New publications on borders and topology by Sarah Green

”Lines, traces, and tidemarks: further reflections on forms of border” in 2018, The political materialities of borders: new theoretical directions. Demetriou, O. & Dimova, R. (eds.). 1 ed. Manchester: University of Manchester, Vol. 2. p. 67-83 17 p. (Rethinking Borders). You can access the paper through the research portal.

“Entangled Borders” 2019. in Archivio antropologico mediterraneo. 21:2, pp. 1-14. This is open access and available here:

“Crosscuts” 2019. In Cultural Anthropology, “Theorising the Contemporary”,

Border at the sea, Ouranopolis, Greece (Photo: Lena Malm). Part of ERC Advanced Grant research called Crosslocations, led by Sarah Green. 2017

New Publication by Anni Kajanus, together with Narges Afshordi and Felix Warneken, on how children’s understanding of hierarchical relations develops in China and the UK.

A. Kajanus, N. Afshordi*, & F. Warneken (2020), Children’s understanding of dominance and prestige in China and the UK, Evolution and Human Behavior, 41(19), 23-34.

(*joint first authors)

Open access link (valid until 29 February, 2020):

Kuvahaun tulos haulle Evolution and Human Behavior


Project on emerging digitalisation in Cuba was awarded funding by the Kone Foundation

Heidi Härkönen, currently working as an Academy of Finland post-doctoral researcher in Gender studies at the University of Helsinki, was awarded funding (163 200 euros) from the Kone Foundation for a four-year research project entitled, “Emerging Digitalisation in Contemporary Cuba: Politics, Values, and Everyday Practices.” The project explores ethnographically the unpredictable political and social consequences of Cuba’s on-going incorporation into the global digital circulations, namely the proliferation of mobile phone technology, wireless internet connectivity, and the use of domestic digital devices. Dr. Härkönen will re-join the Helsinki Anthropology discipline in September 2020 when she will begin work on her new project.

New publication in American Anthropologist “Candomblé and the Academic’s Tools” by Elina Hartikainen

Academy Research Fellow Elina Hartikainen has published in Volume 121, Issue 4 of American Anthropologist.

Elina I. Hartikainen. 2019. Candomblé and the Academic’s Tools: Religious Expertise and the Binds of Recognition in Brazil. American Anthropologist.

Latin American state efforts to recognize ethnically and racially marked populations have focused on knowledge and expertise. This article argues that this form of state recognition does not only call on subaltern groups to present themselves in a frame of expertise. It also pushes such groups to position themselves and their social and political struggles in a matrix based on expertise and knowledge. In the context of early 2000s Brazil, the drive to recognition led activists from the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomble ́ to reimagine the religion’s practitioners’ long- term engagements with scholars and scholarly depictions of the religion as a form of epistemological exploitation that had resulted in public misrecognition of the true source of knowledge on the religion: Candomble ́ practitioners. To remedy this situation, the activists called on Candomble ́ practitioners to appropriate the “academic’s tools,” the modes of representation by which scholarly expertise and knowledge were performed and recognized by the general public and state officials. This strategy transformed religious structures of expertise and knowledge in ways that established a new, politically efficacious epistemological grounding for Candomble ́ practitioners’ calls for recognition. But it also further marginalized temples with limited connections or access to scholars and higher education. [politics of recognition, politics of expertise, state recognition, Candomble ́ religion, Brazil]

Nico Besnier in anthropology Friday seminar

Nico Besnier (University of Amsterdam / Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies) will present the paper “Utopia Modern: Palm Springs in the American Imaginary” in the Anthropology Friday seminar on Friday 11 October, 2-4 pm, (Unioninkatu 35, room 114).

Abstract. How to understand utopia when different groups conceptualize it in different ways? This is the fundamental question of my ongoing fieldwork in the city of Palm Springs in the California desert, originally the land of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indian and was, at the end of the 19th century invaded by white settlers in search of the healing powers of the desert climate. Later it became the playground for Hollywood stars, suddenly affluent post-war middle-classes, gays and lesbians looking for an oasis of tolerance, and the homeless, all driven by utopic quests lined with dystopic realities. At the end of the millennium, it was claimed again by the Indian tribe, who established ultra-capitalist casinos. The heterogeneity of the utopic projects leads us to a rethinking of the meaning of utopia in the 21st century.

All are welcome!