Podcast out!

Listen to six episodes of the podcast Race, Bordering and Disobedient Knowledge to find out more about the research conducted in the project “Intersectional Border Struggles and Disobedient Knowledge in Activism”.


Welcome to the online conference “Racism, Border Struggles and Disobedient Knowledge in Times of Multiple Crises”  

Time: 10.-11.3.2022 

The conference will be streamed online. Registration deadline 8.3.2022: 


New forms of antiracist activism and antiracism practices have developed during the recent decade, both in Finland and globally. Not only the transnational Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the summer of 2020, but also many locally developed activist groups, digital media sites, art scenes and other forms of cultural and political mobilising have challenged the pervasiveness of white hegemony, structural inequalities and everyday racism. Antiracism has also been picked up in different ways and with varying consequences by large NGOs, political parties and state actors. Moreover, migrant struggles and solidarity towards those fleeing conflict, violence and destroyed livelihoods have mobilised a wide range of groups in European societies, while building on a longer tradition of refugee support and movements by undocumented migrants. At the same time, the context for such activism has become highly charged due to the rise of white nationalism and right-wing populism, the creation of a hostile environment towards migrants through state policies and practices, and the multiple uncertainties of the (post-)Covid 19 times. This conference highlights the possibilities of ‘disobedient knowledge’ in the encounters between differently positioned actors in social movements and through the articulation of the experiences by migrants and racialised minorities living their lives at the border. 



March 10th, 2022   

10:00-10:15 Welcoming words: Suvi Keskinen10:15-11:15 Keynote lecture 1: Steve Garner:  Counter Acts: Institutional Obstruction of Antiracist Advances in the Age of Cancel Culture11:15-11:45 Aminkeng Atabong Alemanji: Finland without Racism. The Design Process of the First Mobile Phone Application in Finland11:45-12:15 Nelli Ruotsalainen: The Feminist Party Enters Finnish Politics: Affective Negotiations of Feminism and Anti-racism in the 2017 Municipal Elections 

12:15-13:15 Lunch break  

13:15-13:45 Amiirah Salleh-Hoddin: Towards Developing Racial Equality Data in Finland: Current Landscape and Challenges13:45-14:10 Minna Seikkula: Activist Knowledge Practices in Administrative Border Studies    14:10-14:35 Suvi Keskinen: Mobilising the Racialised ‘Others’: Postethnic Activism, Neoliberalisation and Racial Politics in the Nordic Region  

14:35-14:45 Break    

14:45-15:45 “Right to Live”: Demands on Migrant Regularization in 2022Panel discussion with representatives from Right to Live and Residence Permits Now! demonstrations and Lupa elää citizens’ initiative15:45-16:00 Concluding remarks    


March 11th, 2022    

10:15-11:45 Keynote lecture 2: Encarnación Gutierréz Rodríguez: Trauerarbeit as Decolonial Mourning: In/Humanness, Necroborders, and Political Action 

Commentary by Ann Phoenix, UCL

13-15 Advisory Board meeting


Keynote speakers and abstracts of their lectures: 

Steve Garner, Professor, Department of Sociology, Texas A&M University, US 

Counter Acts: Institutional obstruction of antiracist advances in the age of cancel culture 

In this talk, I will discuss some of the key strategies deployed – in the ideological realm – to counteract the advances made over recent antiracist practice, such as the establishment of forms of racism as empirically-supported facts, and the consequent responsibility to address it at different levels of the State. We will look at three brief examples of the state denial of concepts: ‘Islamophobia’ in France; ‘structural racism’ in the UK, and the ongoing campaign against Critical Race Theory in the USA. These show that the strategy for denying the relevance of sociological concepts used to analyze inequalities in the social world is a contemporary counter-attacking practice for maintaining white supremacy. If activists and scholars are unable to effectively use such concepts in the public domain, the justification for compensatory state action is minimized and the capacity to evoke inequality is reduced. It is effectively ‘cancel culture’. I suggest that this strategy represents a phase of white supremacy in which its power is simultaneously considerable and vulnerable. 


Encarnación Gutiérrez Rodríguez, Professor, Department of Sociology, Justus-Liebig-University, Germany 

Trauerarbeit as Decolonial Mourning: In/Humanness, Necroborders, and Political Action 

On November 9th 2017 the German newspaper Der Tagesspiegel published “Die Liste”, a list of 33,293 persons who lost their lives in the Mediterranean between 2013 and 2015. The list was compiled by Banu Cennetoğlu an Istanbul based artist who came across the Amsterdam project United for Intercultural Action, a network of NGOs working against nationalism, racism, fascism, and in support of migrants and refugees. Charlotte Higgins, in her interview with Cennetoğlu, differentiates the work of the artist by categorizing it as (a) working with grief and (b) engaging with practical work. This paper will complicate this assumption by arguing for mourning as affective labour turned into political action. Dealing with mourning as Trauerarbeit, grief work, the labour of mourning enacted in multiple routines and activities organizing social reproduction, this paper engages with the politics of mourning by exploring the nexus Human/Non-Human on two levels: (a) the struggle against feminicide; and (b) Necroborders. 

Ann Phoenix, Professor of Psychosocial Studies, Institute of Education, University College London, UK


 Please register here: 

The Zoom-link will only be sent to those who have registered latest 8.3.2022. 


The conference is organised by the project “Intersectional Border Struggles and Disobedient Knowledge in Activism”, located at The Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations and Nationalism (CEREN), Swedish School of Social Science, University of Helsinki. The project is funded by the Academy of Finland (2018-2022). 


Videos on antiracist feminism in Finland

The video Five questions on antiracist feminism (38 min) has been produced as a collaboration between documentarist Carmen Baltzar and researcher Suvi Keskinen, PI of KNOWACT-project. The video is available for watching and sharing on Youtube in English, Swedish and Finnish.

You can watch the video in Finnish here Viisi kysymystä antirasistisesta feminismistä. The video is also available with Swedish texts.

In addition to the full-length video, there are also shorter videos introducing each of the five questions. You can watch all the videos at

The interviewed activists are: Aurora Lemma, Ajak Majok, Hai Nguyen, Victoria Odum, and Arvind Ramachandran.

Advisory Board -meeting 4.12.2020

The Advisory Board -meeting of the KNOWACT-project was organised as an online meeting due to the covid 19-situation. The Advisory Board -members were all present during the meeting and provided valuable feedback to the project members’ work. Future cooperation was also discussed and planned.

Decoloniality, Politics and Social Change -workshop 11.-12.10.2019

The KNOWACT-project participated in the organising of the Nordic decolonial network (DENOR) workshop at the Swedish School of Social Science, University of Helsinki.

Programme and more information

RESEARCH IN ACTION: Using participatory and creative methods in research -seminar

Date: Monday 3.6.2019

Time: 10:00-16:00

Place: Festsalen, ground floor, Swedish School of Social Science, Snellmaninkatu 12, Helsinki

Research designs and methods that involve close cooperation with research participants increasingly interest researchers in social sciences and humanities. Many researchers also seek to develop creative forms of knowledge production and use arts-based methods in their studies. The aim of this seminar is to reflect on and discuss experiences of doing participatory, arts-based and action oriented research. What does participation mean in different research projects and what are the methodological choices involved in doing participatory research? How should different positionalities and power relations be taken into account? How can creative methods and arts enable collaborative knowledge production and what are the challenges of such research? How can research contribute to social change?


10:00-10:15 Welcoming words

10:15-11:15 Annalisa Frisina (University of Padova): Photovoice and digital storytelling for researching (and challenging) everyday racism

11:15-12:15 Umut Erel (The Open University): Participatory arts-based methods for researching migration: Opportunities and challenges

12:15-13:15 Lunch break

13:15-14:15 René León Rosales (Multicultural Centre): Participatory action research in segregating and racializing urban landscapes in Sweden: Some reflections on methodological dilemmas

14:15-14:30 Coffee break

14:30-15:45 Panel discussion on collaboration, positionalities and knowledge: Umut Erel, Annalisa Frisina, René León Rosales, Leonardo Custódio (University of Tampere) and Wisam Elfadl (Cultural Centre Caisa)

15:45-16:00 Closing words

Please register for the seminar latest 28.5. at


Annalisa Frisina: Photovoice and digital storytelling for researching (and challenging) everyday racism

This talk starts from reflecting how Post/de-colonial sociology, Critical Race Theory and Visual Studies can offer a good theoretical framework for researching everyday racism with young people. Participatory visual methods such as photovoice and digital storytelling can be used to open a transformative safe space for racialized young people, who can express their “right to look” (Mirzoeff 2011). This methodological proposal is based on a participatory visual research with young people (with and without a migrant background) from the North East of Italy. They were invited to take pictures on three themes: “Self-portraits of a new generation”; “People/places in the city I live in that make me feel (in)secure”; “Feeling a citizen, feeling a foreigner”. This talk will argue the relevance of focus group with photo-elicitation for discussing/unlearning everyday racism with young people who often are socialized to “white innocence” (Wekker 2016) in Europe.


Dr. Annalisa Frisina is Associate Professor in Sociology at FISPPA Department, University of Padua in Italy. She has extensive research experience in youth studies, migration studies, religious studies, with a special expertise on visual and collaborative/participatory research methods. She is co-founder of InteRGRace (Interdisciplinary Group on Race and Racisms) and SLAN.G. (research group on Social Control, Labour, Racism and Migration). She is committed to researching/contrasting different forms of racisms (mainly islamophobia, anti-black racism and antiziganism) through cultural work with young people.

Umut Erel: Participatory arts-based methods for researching migration: Opportunities and challenges

This talk will reflect on opportunities, challenges and how we can create conditions for co-producing knowledge with migrant support and advocacy organisations and groups of migrants. It is based on work with the Participatory Arts and Social Action Research project, which explored the experiences of place-making, belonging and enactments of citizenship of migrant families in London. It looked at intergenerational knowledge, experiences and challenges to racist and sexist policy such as the No Recourse to Public Funds Policy and how these methods may enable participants to articulate collective knowledges with practitioners and policy makers. The talk will look in particular at participatory theatre and walking methods as ways of engaging with research participants.


Dr. Umut Erel is Senior Lecturer in Sociology at the Open University, UK. She has widely published on the intersections of migration, ethnicity, citizenship, racism, gender, and class. Her methodological interests are in creative and participatory methods for research and engagement. She was PI of Participatory Arts and Social Action in Research, exploring theatre and walking methods for research

Dr. Erel also led the Open University’s contribution to the ‘Who are We?’ Project at Tate Exchange, reflecting on migration, citizenship, participation and belonging across arts, activism and academia

For recent publications, see

René León Rosales: Participatory action research in segregating and racializing urban landscapes in Sweden: Some reflections on methodological dilemmas

This presentation will reflect on the methodological and ethical dilemmas encountered in participatory action research projects addressing issues connected tor racism and segregation in the Swedish society. Rosales will reflect on how these experiences and insights can be understood in a discussion about the role of researchers who are working with these issues.


René León Rosales is Head of Research at the Mångkulturellt centrum [Multicultural Center] in Botkyrka, Stockholm ( His dissertation, “On the hither side of the future” (2010), is a study of the effects that economic and ethnic segregation, politics and masculine ideals have on boys’ identification processes in a multi-ethnic school in the northern part of Botkyrka. Since then, he has studied how municipalities can improve their work against discrimination. He is currently working with two research projects financed by the Swedish research council. The first project is called “The suburbs and the renaissance of the education of the people. An investigation of the rise and politicization of an urban justice movement in vulnerable racialized neighborhoods in major Swedish cities”. The second one is called “Methodological laboratories” and is an investigation of the methodological and ethical difficulties that arise in connection to the gathering of so-called equality data regarding ethnic/racial categories.

The seminar is organised by the projects Intersectional Border Struggles and Disobedient Knowledge in Activism (KNOWACT) and Postethnic Activism in the Neoliberal Era, funded by the Academy of Finland, and The Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations and Nationalism (CEREN), Swedish School of Social Science, University of Helsinki.


Leonardo Custódio

Leonardo Custódio is a Brazilian Ph.D. in Social Sciences (University of Tampere, Finland). He is currently a post doctoral research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of Tampere. He is interested in interdisciplinary approaches to social movements, anti-racism activism, media activism and activist research. He has published for example the book “Favela Media Activism: Counterpublics for Human Rights in Brazil”.


Wisam Elfadl 

Wisam Elfadl is project coordinator at the Cultural Centre Caisa.