The 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. 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.
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.
We offer three ethnographic cases: 1. Ukrainian migrant communities in Warsaw, 2. rural minoritised Polish communities in Belarus, 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 (2023-2026) supported by KONE Foundation.
The project team is Dr. Daria Krivonos, Dr. Olga Tkach and MSocSc Roman Urbanowicz. The project is based at the Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations and Nationalism, CEREN, University of Helsinki.