LIFEMAKE seminar: “Depleted social reproduction: frictions in a just-in-time dormitory labour regime”

May 14, 15:00 – 16:00 EEST (Helsinki time)

Hannah Schling (University College London) 

Depleted social reproduction: frictions in a just-in-time dormitory labour regime. 

Registration link:


Outsourced worker dormitories underpin the Czech Republic’s export-oriented and globally integrated manufacturing and warehousing sectors. Arranged by intermediaries and housing workers arriving from Slovakia, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, and Mongolia, dormitories organise workers’ social reproduction towards mediating the ‘flexible’ temporalities of labour demanded by just-in-time production regimes. Drawing on ethnographic research within dormitories in two Czech cities, my talk examines ways in which these arrangements are also beset by logistical ‘frictions’ between depleted social reproduction, globally-integrated production, and workers’ contested im/mobilities. In other words, dormitories underpin the just-in-time dynamics of production, but also structure a raft of contradictions within the labour regime. My talk seeks to highlight contemporary dynamics within migrant workers experiences in Czechia, as well as open questions about the constitutive and crisis-riddled relationality of social reproduction and value production within logistical regimes, as well as the dimensions of mobility and emplacement within mobile workers’ means of contestation, agency and resistance. 


Hannah Schling is a Lecturer in Economic Geography at University College London. Drawing on feminist political economy and labour geography, her research examines questions of social reproduction, temporalities, bordering and labour migration Central and Eastern Europe. Since completing her PhD in Human Geography at King’s College London she has held positions in the Geography Departments of the University of Glasgow and Queen Mary University of London. 

LIFEMAKE seminar: “Social Reproduction and Migration: Recentering the Margins, Expanding the Horizons”

April 2, 16:00 – 17:00 (Helsinki time / EET) 

Zhivka Valiavicharska (Pratt Institute, New York 

Social Reproduction and Migration: Recentering the Margins, Expanding the Horizons

In this talk I discuss questions emerging at the intersection of social reproduction, migration, and diasporic life, which to some extent move away from the literature on gender and immigration that sees migrants exclusively as a labor force. My discussion, emerging from the context of the challenges and struggles of migrant people in the United States, is driven by a set of questions beyond structural analyses of labor, welfare, and the law: What does the work of reproduction mean for precariously present people living in a state of prolonged or permanent suspension and under the impending possibility of expulsion? What are the meanings of “family,” “home,” and the labor that sustains community bonds when it is work that contends with the traumatic effects of uprooting, disruption, and loss? What does it take to sustain relationships within family, community, and lovers in legal conditions designed to restrict, sever, and punish even the most basic social and intimate bonds? How do we think of this work politically when it pushes against forces of cultural assimilation and historical erasure, of everyday hostility and xenophobia? By centering on the experiences of migrant people, the talk aims to broaden existing narratives of social reproduction. It highlights the tremendous political importance of reproductive, emotional, and care practices that persist on the margins of the system and explores their potentials for expanding our feminist histories, struggles, and social horizons. 

Zhivka Valiavicharska is a political theorist and art historian working on the social, cultural, and art histories of twentieth-century Bulgaria and Eastern Europe in their global and diasporic dimensions. She is Associate Professor at Pratt Institute, New York, and the author of Restless History: Political Imaginaries and their Discontents in Post-Stalinist Bulgaria (McGill University Press, 2021).

Registration link:

LIFEMAKE Seminar: “Crisis as the Potential for Collective Action: Violence and Humanitarianism on the Polish-Ukrainian Border”

Crisis as the Potential for Collective Action: Violence and Humanitarianism on the Polish-Ukrainian Border

Iwona Kaliszewska (University of Warsaw), with Elisabeth Cullen Dunn

March 5, 15-16  (Helsinki Time, EET)

The notion of crisis once referred to the short, sharp shock of an acute event.  Today, it refers more broadly to any event that ruptures stable historical narratives, disrupts once-indisputable teleologies and opens new and undesirable visions of the future.  For volunteers in Poland working to support Ukrainian refugees and the Ukrainian military, the Russian invasion of Ukraine posed a crisis because it challenged the supposed inevitability of Poland’s membership in the EU and in the West more generally, threatening to catapult Poland back into a history of war and Russian domination.   But for the volunteers, the crisis was also a temporality in which their own actions took on outsize importance, allowing them to attempt to shape history as they worked on seemingly mundane tasks of provisioning and transport. The presentation is based on field research conducted in Ukraine and in the Polish-Ukrainian borderlands between March 2022 and February 2023. 

Iwona Kaliszewska is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Warsaw. Her research focuses on intersections among Islam, state and anti-state violence, and more recently on war and humanitarian crisis. Iwona has been conducting research projects in Dagestan and Chechnya since 2004, and lately in the Polish-Ukrainian borderlands. Her most recent book “For Putin and for Sharia. Dagestani Muslims and the Islamic State” has recently been published by the Cornell University Press. 

Registration link:

Photo by Iwona Kaliszewska

Photo by Iwona Kaliszewska




LIFEMAKE seminar series: “Property as a problem” by Andrei Vazyanau on 20.02

We are glad to invite you to the very first event of LIFEMAKE Seminar Series, which will take place online, on Tuesday 20.2. at 15-16.

Andrei Vazyanau (European University of Humanities) will speak on the topic of “Property as a problem: responses to dispossesion among repressed Belarusians”.

After the rigged presidential election of August 2020 and brutal suppression of the protests that followed, Belarus is facing arguably the most massive repressions in Europe since the breakup of the Soviet Union. Along with dozens of thousands of imprisonments and mass exodus from the country – with more than 5% of the population leaving within three years – the repressions redefine how Belarusians, both within Belarus and in exile, perceive and manage their possessions. My ethnographic research focuses on the materiality of forced relocations, as a danger and a reality, in the intersecting contexts of domestic mass repressions and increasingly austere EU humanitarian policies – aggravated, in Belarusian case, by legal restrictions imposed on Belarus citizens as a consequence of Russian invasion into Ukraine. Asking Belarusians for lists and descriptions of the objects they retain, wander with, or leave behind, I analyze the implications of their forced mobility that extend beyond the debates on the moral rights of particular social groups for refuge. Also, my research explores the tactics that relocated people use in order to decrease their dependence on things, especially new things, in their homemaking efforts. Additionally, I am tracing how restrictions on the circulation of objects across the borders of Belarus instigates the breakage of connections within (solidary) families and collectives.

Andrei Vazyanau is a lecturer at European Humanities University (Vilnius, Lithuania) and a researcher at Minsk Urban Platform (Belarus/Lithuania). He holds his PhD in social anthropology from the University of Regensburg (2021, the title of the project „Infrastructures in Trouble: Public Transit, Crisis, and Citizens at the Peripheries of Europe“). His fieldwork background includes the Donetsk region of Ukraine (Mariupol, Kostyantynivka, Druzhkivka, Horlivka), years 2011-2013; Romania (Galati, Braila, Constanta), years 2015-2016; Belarus (Minsk), 2017-2021. His latest research focused on different aspects of life in post-2020 Belarus such as the use of new media, psychotherapeutic practice, dispossessions, and intimate relationships.

Please register to receive a Zoom-meeting invitation later:

We are looking forward to seeing you at the seminar!

ETMU Days 2023

LIFEMAKE participated in the 20th conference of Society for the Study of Ethnic Relations and International Migration (ETMU) held at the University of Jyväskylä from November 29th to December 1st of 2023. This year the aim of the conference was to shed light on Structures of Power and Oppression.

A workshop was hosted by LIFEMAKE at the ETMU days on the 1st of December. The workshop description as well as the various presentations given during the workshop will be listed below.


Workshop: Life-making, care and social reproduction in migration

Conveners: Daria Krivonos, University of Helsinki; Pauliina Lukinmaa, University of Eastern Finland

Feminist theory has been rethinking standard conceptualisations of the economy beyond categories of production. This work brings the invisibilised activities, relations and practices of social reproduction, including various forms of social support, care and solidarity to the centre of social scientific inquiry. Meanwhile, migration research extensively shows that the lack or absence of institutional provisioning and the rollback of welfare state affects migrants and negatively racialized groups, so that the survival and the remaking of life is increasingly downloaded onto self-reliance and reliance on migrant communities and their precarious labour. These societal developments bring attention to the day-to-day and intergenerational processes of remaking of life itself –what recent scholarship has called “life’s work” or “life- making” (Mitchell et al., 2004; Bhattacharya, 2017; Ferguson, 2019). This refers to the invisibilised everyday material practices through which people maintain, continue and repair their social lives. This workshop invites multilingual but preferably English language papers that explore the connections between migration, life-making and social reproduction: from the role of migrant workers in care and services, to the role of transnational households in the reproduction of life and social relations, to the spaces of life’s work (e.g., migrant dormitories) to emotional reproduction and volunteering in the contexts of displacement, and beyond. We particularly welcome papers that offer reflections on the role of race, gender, class, nationality, citizenship, and sexuality in the labour of remaking life in the context of migration. We invite scholars working in various disciplines to address the following topics but not limited to them: Displacements caused by mass disasters such as wars, earthquakes, pandemics Collaboration of different providers of life-making labour, such as states, NGOs, grassroots initiatives Routine tacit micro-practices of reproductive labour in different settings, such as private households, care centres/institutes, communities, neighbourhoods Translocal care and solidarities The workshop is organized by two research projects funded by Kone Foundation in 2023–2026 –group project “Life-breaking and Life-making: A research project on social reproduction and survival in times of collapse” (LIFEMAKE) and individual project of Pauliina Lukinmaa “Ylirajaisen solidaarisuuden muotoja kriisin aikana: pietarilaislähtöisten LHBTIQ+ aktivistien toiminta Baltiassa”.


Presentations held during the workshop:

Remaking life through co-living: home accommodation of displaced people as reproductive and convivial labour

Olga Tkach, University of Helsinki

Social reproduction and infrastructures of migrant intimacies 

Laura Mankki, University of Eastern Finland

Freedom and unfreedom in au pairing: Probing unfree labour from the perspective of social reproduction

Elisabeth Wide, University of Helsinki

From labour migrants to refugees and back: Social reproduction and precarious migrant labour among ukrainian refugees

Daria Krivonos, University of Helsinki

Neglect, care, and solidarity amongst Belarusian political refugees in Lithuania

Roman Urbanowicz, University of Helsinki

Navigating through subtle everyday tactics and more visible strategies: Russian-speaking LGBTIQ+ activists engaging with translocal solidarity practices in Estonia

Pauliina Lukinmaa, University of Eastern Finland

Policy failures, reciprocal solidarities, and sexual health education among refugees and racialized groups in Turkey

Cansu Civelek, Central European University; Ali Öğünçer

LIFEMAKE Launch Seminar

What makes social life going forward while the world is running into an abyss? In LIFEMAKE, we examine and come in dialogue with individuals and communities that continue to remake their lives in the context of forced displacement, crisis of living, attack on the poor, and persistent gendered, sexualised, classed, and racialised forms of oppression. The looming developments of the present have further highlighted what has been known for a long time: the labour of social reproduction – from caring for children and the elderly to sustaining horizontal networks and communities — has been central to the (re)making of human beings and collectivities.

In the project, we examine these processes in the current moment of the full-scale war in Ukraine and increased political repressions in Belarus and Russia, seeking conversations with other communities whose lives are caught up in the processes of ruination beyond the region.

We want to re-centre life-making and home-making labour from the margins of capitalist production and ask: what are the transformative and reparative capacities of research on social reproduction and life-making in times of displacement, austerity and the crisis of living? What issues, activities, processes and institutions should be critically revised and included in the analysis in this context? What is the role of scholarly work and knowledge production in times of collapse and ruination?

Seminar programme (October 6, the Swedish School of Social Sciences (Snellmaninkatu 12), room 210)

14-15.30 – Panel discussion “Social Reproduction in the Ruins” (with Suvi Salmenniemi, Olga
Davydova-Minguet, Olga Filippova, Majda Hrženjak – moderated by Daria Krivonos)

15.30-16.00 – Coffee break

16.00-17.00 – Presentation of LIFEMAKE project (Daria Krivonos, Olga Tkach, Roman Urbanowicz, research partner – Pauliina Lukinmaa)

From 17 – Socialising and dinner (at own expense)
We are excited to think together about social reproduction and life-making, and pursue emancipatory feminist visions!

About the project

Starting from the covid-19 pandemic, aggravating police violence and repressions in Belarus and Russia, a cascade of dramatic circumstances in Central and Eastern Europe put many lives on the edge of loss and death; and the scale of catastrophe has greatly exacerbated since the beginning of Russian invasion into Ukraine. The dominant top-down perspectives on geopolitics, security and “bare life” have overshadowed everyday material practices through which people maintain, continue and repair their social lives in times of the ongoing catastrophic events of the current decade.

Offering a reparative lens to geopolitical narratives, we examine the shadow underside of the collapsing times, the labour that goes into making, sustaining and reproducing life itself – what we, following feminist scholarship, call life-making labour.

The project deals with the central research question: what makes social life continue when lives are breaking? To address it, we draw on the feminist political economy literature that has centred the labour of social reproduction – activities, attitudes, affects and relationships that go directly into maintaining social life daily and intergenerationally – as fundamental for making life itself possible. Methodologically, our project relies on participant observation and in-depth interviews, which each project member will conduct in their respective fieldwork sites, together composing a joint multi-sited ethnographic study of life-making.

We offer three ethnographic cases: 1. Ukrainian migrant communities in Warsaw, 2. Belarusian political refugees in Lithuania, 3. volunteer groups hosting Ukrainian refugees in their homes in Finland. Through engagement with multiple ethnographic sites, we examine life-making practices across geographic locations in the times begging for research on invisibilised aspects of reproduction of the life itself.

LIFEMAKE is a 4 year project supported by KONE Foundation.

The project team is Dr. Daria Krivonos, Dr. Olga Tkach and MA Roman Urbanowicz. The project is based at the Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations and Nationalism, CEREN, University of Helsinki.