Politics of Participation – Symposium

October 18-19, 2018
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki
In recent years, “participation” has been trumpeted as a panacea to the hierarchies that once divided the governing and the governed across fields as varied as: development, budget-making, citizenship, and even surveillance. Participation, however, is not a self-evident good. If it heralds new forms of openness and involvement, it also implies forms of social ordering and regulation. Key questions to be explored at the symposium will be: what counts as “participation” in specific contexts?  How does “participation” emerge through norms of practice, their institutionalization and discourses on them?  What forms of sociality are displaced or occluded by demands for participation?  And, if efforts to expand participation are undertaken with the goal of (re)organizing power relations, as is often the case, what new–and perhaps unintended–power relations emerge through participatory logics? 
This two-day symposium interrogates the concept of participation, as articulated in contemporary political, economic and organizational forms, from a language-oriented perspective. To this end, the symposium gathers scholars from across the social sciences whose work takes a language-focused perspective on “participation” in democratic politics and governance, finance and commerce, education, and media and communications. The symposium include two days of panels punctuated by two key note lectures offered by Asif Agha (University of Pennsylvania, Anthropology) and Celia Lury (University of Warwick, Center for Interdisciplinary Methodologies). 
Elina I. Hartikainen, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies 
Andrew Graan, Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki
Irina Piippo, Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies, University of Helsinki
Timo Kaartinen, Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki
Johanna Sumiala, Media and Communication Studies, University of Helsinki