Panel F

Scholar Activism 

Ali Ali: Community (Politics) by Accident or Design

My research is on aspects solidarity, community and belonging in queer exile/migration. This text is on the trickiness of defining these three (emboldened) terms and then tracing them in a meaningful academic research according to a formula of methodology and findings. This paper is based on an ethnographic research among queer exiles in Helsinki. I discuss how aspects of community and belonging are hard to grasp, both in the lived experience and in within the research process that strife to capture that experience. To make things more complicated, or to bring the complexity into the light, I highlight 1) how the researcher gets entangled in the meaning-making and formation of the community and the sense of belonging they look into 2) how conceptualization of community and community politics breaks open in this messiness (methodological and epistemological perplexity) to decenter identity politics. These two aspects, I argue have a political potential to reconfigure politics of self-hood and belonging as an ongoing inter- and intra- group dialogue rather seductive but reductive notions of static identities and settled groups/communities.   

Joey Ayoub: Hauntology and the Lebanese crises

The trajectory of my PhD coincided with tumultous events in Lebanon. Between the start of my PhD in 2017 and its expected end in 2023, the country has gone through multiple crises including but not limited to: its largest-ever uprising (October 2019), one of the largest non-nuclear explosions in modern history (August 2020), the ongoing effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic (2020-) as well as an economic crises widely considered amongst the worst in the world today (2019-).  

At the same time, my research topic deals with past and future hauntings affecting the country’s so-called ‘postwar’ era since 1990. In addition to changing the temporal limit of my research from 2018 to 2020 to take into account the events of 2019 and 2020, the writing process was deeply affected by my going into exile following an ongoing governmental crackdown of activists and other critical thinkers. As such, the discussion of hauntings in the thesis was itself, in a way, haunted by real-life events affecting the researcher, myself.  

In this paper, I propose to explore the ‘why’ of this thesis, identifying the changes that have occurred in the process of writing it and how these changes have impacted not just the content of the PhD but also its tone. Using Mark Fisher’s hauntology framework as well as Walid Sadek’s concept of the protracted now, this paper proposes to explore the following intertwined questions: What does a research project investigating past and future hauntings have to say about Lebanon’s crises? And how can this inform other research projects investigating unstable and ever-changing contexts? 

Aino Korvensyrjä: Studying State Violence in the Long Aftermath of 2015: Deportation and Black Migrant Struggles in Germany

This paper reflects on methodological and theoretical challenges in researching the intersection of deportation and anti-blackness in Germany, in a time when the deportation regime was rapidly expanding. It draws on fieldwork and interviews conducted between 2016 and 2021 with persons who had migrated to Germany from West Africa and who were, after the rejection of their asylum requests, under pending deportation. The first puzzle I address concerns the inadequacy of migration studies concepts and frameworks to conceptualise black migrants’ everyday encounters with state and non-state agents in Germany and their migration trajectories in the Euro-African border regime. I argue for extending migration studies with critiques of state violence in racial capitalism. While this has clear benefits for an analysis of borders in the current conjuncture, it also opens up new analytical challenges. The second puzzle concerns the movement between scholarly and activist knowledge production – a tricky, but arguably necessary exercise for an ethnographic approach studying deportation with precarious migrants.  

Keywords: Deportation, borders, race, scholar-activism, ethnography