Associated Projects

2018 – New Skies Above Songwriting Collective in Turku, Finland

Lead organiser Klisala Harrison; local arranger Rosa Rantanen of the Finnish Red Cross; songwriting teachers Naomi Sunderland and Kristina Jacobsen

As trauma is a big theme in my Arctic research, I had at the pleasure of collaboratively hosting a songwriting workshop for asylum seekers and refugees in the area of Turku, Finland and through the Finnish Red Cross. We explored sense-based and place-based songwriting as a response to trauma with our group, which had at least one participant from every inhabited continent. Our four-day workshop taught songwriting basics, and resulted in a performance as well as professionally recorded & mastered demo recordings of four songs – three newly composed songs as well as an Iraqi folksong. You can hear the recordings of the new songs and read their lyrics at!

Thank you / kiitos to all our wonderful artists Xavier Albamo, Amir Alizade (Djamiww), Vanessa Garrido, Fouad Ibrahim, Rosa Rantanen, Ahmed Zaidan, Nora A. Al Zubaidi and Raad Obaid Al Zubaidi!

Here you can see some of us recording our group-written song, “New Skies Above.”

Several of us wrote an academic article on this project, “New Skies Above: Sense-bound and Place-based Songwriting as a Trauma Response for Refugees and Asylum Seekers,” by Klisala Harrison, Kristina Jacobsen and Naomi Sunderland in press for 2019 publication at Applied Arts & Health 10.2.

The workshop was funded by a guest researcher program grant the Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki. In-kind sponsors included Márk Bertényi, Johannes Brusila, and Jussi-Pekka Paija as well as the Academy of Finland, the Finnish Red Cross (Southwest District, Turku Reception Centre), Griffith University School of Human Services and Social Work, the University of New Mexico, Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre at Griffith University, Yrjänän kohtaamispaikka and Åbo Rock Academy.


2017 – Digital Indigenous Cultures of Music and Sound: Contemporary Impacts and Interventions

Project leader: Klisala Harrison

Participants: Johanna Sumiala, Pirjo K. Virtanen, Pirkko Moisala

Digital technologies are essential to how Indigenous people create and communicate their lives today, as well as for how they plan their lives to be in the future. This research project focused on how Indigenous people use digital technologies to express contemporary life realities and improve their life situations following colonization.

This study further focused on mediated music and sound. Just as music accompanied almost every activity in Indigenous societies before contact with settlers, today music and sound continue to enable, express and represent current and envisioned socializations of Indigenous peoples. Making sound and music are social acts intended to have social impact; sound and music are used in digital sound recordings as well as multimedia expressions on the Internet and in film, where language is also an essential component.

This project built scholarly collaborations among researchers at the University of Helsinki, as well as networks in wider scholarly and Indigenous communities through public outreach.

Funded by the Future Development Fund, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki