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


Carna Brkovic: Bios, Zoe, Psyche? Forms of Life in a Refugee Camp in Montenegro

Carna Brkovic from University of Goettingen gave a talk on Friday the 17th of January 2020 titled “Bios, Zoe, Psyche? Forms of Life in a Refugee Camp in Montenegro”



Life in a refugee camp Konik in Podgorica, Montenegro, included efforts of the Red Cross humanitarians to “change the consciousness” of the displaced Roma and Balkan Egyptians. However, they were not the only one. Montenegrin citizens told themselves that they also had to “change their consciousness” about all sorts of issues if they ever wanted to join the European Union. Discussing how the fall of Yugoslav socialism has reshaped emic ideas on what it means to “change consciousness”, this talk explores how a “will to improve” emerged in the context of widespread indeterminacy and legal ambiguity of the asylum as a form of life.

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!

Beyond the Horizon available online

“Beyond the Horizon: Essays on Myth, History, Travel and Society”, originally published in 2008, is now available online at

The book was edited by Clifford Sather and Timo Kaartinen, and includes essays by several prominent anthropologists writing about cosmologies, or schemes in terms of which people “locate themselves … in constantly changing circumstances of life”. It is dedicated to Jukka Siikala in celebration of his 60th birthday in 2007.

Interview with Angie Heo

In the beginning of March 2018, Angie Heo gave a talk in our visiting seminar and we used this great opportunity to speak about her research. The interview, which is presented to you here in an audio form, was conducted in a collaboration with the LSE Religion and Global Society, and you can find its written version on their website.

Angie Heo is Assistant Professor of the Anthropology and Sociology of Religion at the University of Chicago. Her first book is The Political Lives of Saints: Christian-Muslim Mediation in Egypt (University of California Press, 2018).



New publication: A Village Goes Mobile

Tenhunen, Sirpa 2018. A Village Goes Mobile: Telephony, Mediation, and Social Change in Rural India. Oxford University Press.  ISBN: 9780190630270.

In A Village Goes Mobile: Telephony, Mediation and Social Change in Rural India, Sirpa Tenhunen examines how the mobile telephone has contributed to social change in rural India. Tenhunen’s long-term ethnographic fieldwork in West Bengal began before the village had a phone system in place and continued through the introduction and proliferation of the smartphone. She here analyzes how mobile telephones emerged as multidimensional objects which, in addition to enabling telephone conversations, facilitated status aspirations, internet access, and entertainment practices. She explores how this multifaceted use of mobile phones has affected agency and power dynamics in economic, political, and social relationships, and how these new social constellations relate to culture and development.

In eight chapters, Tenhunen asks such questions as: Who benefits from mobile telephony and how? Can people use mobile phones to change their lives, or does phone use merely amplify existing social patterns and power relationships? Can mobile telephony induce development? Going beyond the case of West Bengal, Tenhunen develops a framework to understand how new media mediates social processes within interrelated social spheres and local hierarchies by relating, mediasaturated forms of interaction to pre-existing contexts.

The book is also available as an e-book.

If you are interested in reviewing the book, please, contact Sirpa Tenhunen (sirpa.tenhunen(a)

Order the book through Oxford University Press .

Melissa Demian: The gender of the minibus

If the lecture does not stream properly or you want to listen to it offline, download the audio file here.

Melissa Demian (University of St. Andrews) gave a talk titled “The gender of the minibus: Women and the navigation of urban space in Papua New Guinea” on the 14th of April 2018.

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