Convergences and Divergences in Contact Settings

May 23-24  2024

At the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies

Location: HCAS Common Room, Fabianinkatu 24 A, 3rd floor 


This symposium will discuss how cultural norms are negotiated across neighbouring communities through processes of convergence and divergence. Our focus is on “artefacts” – most centrally, (varied) linguistic forms, material and non-material culture. The central question we pursue is how patterns of similarities and differences in shape and use of particular artefacts are intertwined with the dynamics of social relations within and across social groups in contact settings. We are especially interested in traditional non-urban settings, which were prevalent for most of the history of humanity and are still observed in many places remote from the headquarters of colonial powers. The symposium brings together, on the one hand, linguists, archeologists, and folklorists focusing primarily on “artefacts”, and, on the other hand, social anthropologists, focusing on relations and interactions. Our hope is that sharing methodologies, viewpoints, datasets, and insights between the disciplines, which ultimately deal with the same complex object of human societies, will enrich each research tradition and open new perspectives for interdisciplinary explorations.