Seminar: Naive Monarchism and Rural Resistance in Contemporary Russia, 16 October 2018

Welcome to listen to a lecture by Dr. Natalia Mamonova on 16 October 2018, at 12.15-13.45, Metsätalo (Unioninkatu 40), sali 12


This study applies the concept of “naive monarchism” (i.e., the traditional peasant expressions of reverence for the tsar as their benefactor) to study contemporary rural politics in authoritarian Russia. While Russia is not a monarchy, and its rural dwellers are not traditional illiterate peasants, the veneration of its leader manifests itself in many rural grievances. I analyse three types of rural politics that have traits of naive monarchism: written petitions to the president, rural pickets and delegations to the Kremlin, and geographical renaming in honour of Vladimir Putin. Grievances, voiced in this way, are rarely subjects of repression from above, as they reinforce presidential authority and the existing order. This raises the question of whether rural dwellers faithfully believe in a benevolent president or intentionally exploit their subordinate position and Putin’s image as the present-day tsar. Whether sincere or strategic, these rural politics aim to enforce the existing state commitments. Although they are unable to challenge the status quo, they provide rural dwellers with a means to remedy occasional local injustices.

Natalia Mamonova is a Research fellow at the Russia and Eurasia Programme of The Swedish Institute of International Affairs & Affiliated researcher at the Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies of Uppsala University, Sweden. She will be a visiting researcher in Development Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Helsinki during October 2018.

Development Studies and PYAM Seminar: Uma Kothari 26.09.2018

Wednesday 26 September from 10-12 pm at Metsätalo, room 27

Encountering Europe Otherwise: On the road with postcolonial travellers

Uma Kothari

Professor of Migration and Postcolonial Studies, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester

Vice-Chancellors Fellow, School of Geography, University of Melbourne

With adventure, exploration and travel primarily conceived of as a Euro-American privilege, travellers in the past were identified as those who embarked on voyages motivated by imperial, educational and recreational imperatives. Empire tourism, a specific form of travel that emerged to enable western tourists to experience the landscapes and people written about by earlier travellers, subsequently fueled the production of colonial imaginaries about other people and places. These travel stories, along with academic accounts, have entrenched highly Eurocentric theories about tourism and travel. Drawing on an extended road trip from England to India undertaken by two non-European, Indian travellers in the 1950s this paper challenges this privileging of western tourists and dominant narratives of travel. It highlights the entangled relationships and connections that generated the encounters, experiences and understandings that emerged during their journey. The swirl of larger events and processes that conditioned their travel routes testify to a different era of globalisation in which distinctive connections were being sought and wrought while others were diminishing. As such, their trip, which took place in a specific geo-political and decolonising context, illuminates shifting colonial imaginaries and the forging of new postcolonial networks and their story foregrounds the neglect of non-western forms of mobility.

Uma Kothari is Professor of Migration and Postcolonial Studies in the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester. She is the co-founder of the Manchester Migration Lab and is currently Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne. She is the principal investigator on an ESRC funded project on Environmental Violence and Everyday Lives and her current work includes research on Visual Solidarity and Everyday Humanitarianism and A Cultural History of the Mission to Seafarers. She has published numerous articles and her books include Participation: the new tyranny?,  Development Theory and Practice: critical perspectives, and A Radical History of Development Studies. She is co-editor of the Frontiers of Development book series published by Oxford University Press and is the Vice President of the European Association of Development. She is on the advisory board of In Place of War, a support system for community artistic, creative and cultural organisations in places of conflict and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. She was conferred the Royal Geographical Society’s Busk Medal for her contributions to research on global development.

Contact: Paola Minoia (

Conflicts and resource politics in Myanmar, 15 August 2018

What: Discussion on the complex resource politics and its implications for the peace process in Myanmar. When: 15 August 2018, 10 am to 1:30 pm
Where: Think Corner (Tiedekulma), University of Helsinki, Yliopistonkatu 4
Confirm your participation:

Myanmar is experiencing a complicated process of transition towards a civilian government, multi-party democratic elections, and peace negotiations. At the same time, the recent opening of the country has resulted in an accelerating rush for the rich natural resources, including a boom in extractive industrial and agribusiness projects. Most of these resources are located in the ethnic states and many of the grievances of the various ethnic communities are entangled with the questions of access to and control over resources. In this event researchers, NGO representatives and social movement activists discuss the ways that land and other resource rights should be addressed as a part of conflict resolution towards sustainable peace in Myanmar.

The recent political changes in Myanmar has also meant a rush of different international development organisations to the country. Recently Finland too has decided to focus its support in Southeast Asia to Myanmar. The event includes a panel discussion on the Finland’s future role in Myanmar with perspectives from civil society, ministry officials and private sector. Continue reading “Conflicts and resource politics in Myanmar, 15 August 2018”

Arctic Indigenous and Local Knowledge & Sustainability

Friday, 8th of June from 9am – 15 pm at the Think Corner.

Many sessions will touch on sustainability & development issues in the Arctic, and this is also a great opportunity to get more familiar with the work of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). There will be three keynote speeches from prominent figures: Anne Nuorgam (Vice-Chair of the United Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues), Eduardo Brondizio (Co-Chair of the IPBES Global Assessment) and Fikret Berkes (one of the most distinguished ethnoecologists). There will also be two Panel Discussions with Indigenous Peoples representatives.

You can find the full program in the following link:

Warmly welcome to the Seminar!

Development Studies Lecture – 28.05.2018

Mariela Castro Espín: Sex education in the processes of social transformation of the Cuban revolution (“La educación de la sexualidad en los procesos de transformación social de la Revolución Cubana”)

Mariela Castro is the leader of Cuba’s sexual education institute (CENESEX) and a worldwide known activist for promoting LGBTIQ rights, transgender issues and HIV/AIDS prevention. She is a member of the Cuban parliament and the daughter of Cuba’s ex-president Raúl Castro and revolutionary feminist leader Vilma Espín. Castro is visiting Finland, because she will be promoted as the doctor honoris causas by Åbo Akademi.

The lecture will be commented by President Tarja Halonen.

Language: Spanish, translation to Finnish. PowerPoint in English.
Date & Time: Monday 28.5. at 16.15-17.45
Place: Unioninkatu 35, Auditorio 116, 1. krs.

Continue reading “Development Studies Lecture – 28.05.2018”

Helsus Brown Bag seminar – 20.04.2018

The new dynamics of de­for­est­a­tion in Brazil

Associate Professor Markus Kröger’s presentation is about the current dynamics of deforestation, forest degradation, and sustainability of forest and forestry policies in different parts of Brazil. The focus is at presenting the findings from fresh field research in 2017-2018 on the different causes of rising deforestation in different regions. The example of the iconic Chico Mendes Extractive Reserve in Acre illustrates the power of cattle-ranching as the key driver of deforestation, even inside conservation areas. The politics of the rapidly expanding “sustainable logging cooperatives” – which have serious impacts on forest degradation, and do not typically deliver their promises – in the multiple-use conservation areas of the Santarém region in Pará are discussed to illustrate how the powerful illegal loggers still operate and take over many developmental schemes. Finally, the role of Finnish and Brazilian forestry industry in continuing deforestation and expansion of eucalyptus plantations through practices that include illegal land grabbing and violence in Bahia are discussed based on field research in the area since 2004. The politics that aim to create sustainable forest policies, and offer alternatives, are also discussed.

Markus Kröger is an Associate Professor and Docent in Development Studies at the University of Helsinki, the focus area of the tenure track position being the study of the political economy of development and natural resource extraction. Most of his research has focused on investment politics around large-scale projects in the forestry and metal industries, including the study of state-corporate-civil society relations, particularly in South America and India. He is the author of Contentious Agency and Natural Resource Politics (2013), and has published several papers on the sustainability of forest and forestry policies in different countries.

Welcome on Friday 20 April at 11:30-12:30 at HELSUS Hub at Porthania (2nd floor), Yliopistonkatu 3.

Development Studies Seminar at Helsus – Friday 20 April 2018 – CANCELLED

Professor Lahcen Kabiri, University of Meknès-Errachidia: “Revitalizing the past: ecological knowledge and khettarat hydraulic systems in Morocco”.

Prof. Lahcen Kabiri works on groundwater and traditional management of water resources in arid lands, and on Indigenous Peoples’ and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCAs) in Morocco. He has done research on climate/ecological and social changes in the Oases of the Tafilalet region, documented in several published articles, and carries out consultancy work for various international organizations, including FAO, UNDP, UNESCO/MAB and the EU. He is also the president of a local association based in Ferkla oasis (Association Oasis Ferkla pour l´environnement et le patrimoine), engaged in various types of community development project and in direct assistance to marginalized groups (including pastoralists). His current research-action project aims to restore and revitalize antique structures of groundwater irrigation (khettarat), which were abandoned during the last mechanization decades that have caused groundwater depletion and socio-ecological degradation. A few are still in function, such as the khattarats of the ICCA of Tighfert oasis. The problem goes beyond the technical operation, as it involves societal and ecological organizations mediating traditional structures with multiple changes.

Welcome on Friday 20 April at 12:30-13:00 at HELSUS Hub at Porthania (2nd floor), Yliopistonkatu 3.

Development Studies Seminar – 23.04.2018

Professor Sikata Banerjee, University of Victoria, Canada:  “Bollywood Makes Men: Globalization and Muscular Nationalism in India”.

Negotiating masculinity has been a critical dilemma of Indian nationalism since the colonial period, when British constructions of Indian men as effeminate served as part of their gendered justifications for colonial rule. The legacy of this negotiation has surfaced in the socio-political changes in the wake of globalization created by the 1991 economic reforms which have configured the male body as a signifier of India’s new self-confidence on the global stage. Ascendant Hindu nationalism and the emergence of a nationalist triumphalism linked to an assertive global middle class form the material context of this signification. Muscular nationalism, defined in my works as an intersection of armed masculinity with the political doctrine of nationalism, enables a theoretical frame to analyze this version of an imagined India. Culturally, this view of muscular nationalism is eloquently represented in Hindi popular films which are important vehicles for disseminating dominant imaginings of nation in India. I will draw scenes from several films to illustrate this muscular nationalism.

Sikata Banerjee is Professor of Gender Studies at the University of Victoria, Canada. Her work focuses on gender and nationalism in India.  She is the author of Warriors in Politics:  Hinduism, Nationalism, Violence, and the Shiv Sena in India (Westview 2000); Make Me a Man!  Masculinity, Hinduism, and Nationalism in India (SUNY 2005); Muscular Nationalism: Gender, Violence, and Empire in Ireland (NYU 2012); and Globalizing Muscular Nationalism: Gender, Nation and Popular Film in India (Routledge 2016).

Welcome on  Monday 23 April, 2-4 pm, Unioninkatu 35, lecture hall 114.

Development Studies Seminar – 5.03.2018

Professor Lyla Mehta, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex:  “Climate change and uncertainty from ‘below’ and ‘above”.

Professor Lyla Mehta works in and co-leads the Resource Politics cluster at the Institute of Development Studies, UK. A sociologist working in development studies, she uses the case of water and sanitation to focus on rights and access to resources, resource grabbing, the politics of scarcity, gender, power and policy processes. Her work also concerns climate change and uncertainty and gender, displacement and resistance. She has extensive research and field experience in India and southern Africa. She has published about 90 scientific publications including the most recent edited book, Flows and Practices: the politics of integrated water resources management in southern and eastern Africa.

The talk will be followed by a presentation on “Water and power, water’s power: Volatile ecologies and politics of vulnerabilisation in Laos” by Mira Käkönen, Development studies, University of Helsinki.

Warmly welcome on Monday, March 5th at 14:00 until 16:00 Unioninkatu 35, room 344 (third floor). Since the room has limited places, please contact to register, by Thursday 1st of March. 

In the morning, at 10 am in Auditorium XV, University Main building, 4th floor: Prof. Lyla Mehta will serve as opponent of the doctoral defense of Johanna Hohenthal (development geography): Local ecological knowledge in deteriorating water catchments – Reconsidering environmental histories and inclusive governance in the Taita Hills, Kenya.

Pre-conference workshops – 14.02.2018

On Wednesday the 14th February 2018, (the day before the conference), a series of workshops will be offered for Masters and PhD students.

9-12  Masters Workshop held by Prof Barry Gills (HY) and Dr Paola Minoia (HY), with Prof Jun Borras (Erasmus Univ. Rotterdam), Tieteiden talo, Kirkkokatu 6, Room 208

9-12  UniPiD DocNet DocShop: “Q&A with Jesse Ribot” – organized by Prof Anja Nygren (HY), Johanna Kivimäki (UniPID), and Dr. Aili Pyhälä (HY), with Prof  Jesse Ribot (SESE, Illinois), Tieteiden talo, Kirkkokatu 6, Room 309 Please find more information on this workshop here.

14-16 Indigenous Studies/Development Studies workshop held by Ass. Prof Pirjo Virtanen (HY) and Dr. Aili Pyhälä (HY), with Prof Sian Sullivan (Bath Spa University) NB. Different Location: SSKH210, Snellmaninkatu 12. For more information, including how to register, please contact Assistant Professor Pirjo Virtanen (