Living in difference: coexistence and affective community-making in the city

Thursday 28.4 at 15.15–16.45

Segregaation rakentuminen leikkipuistojen arjessa

Tuija Seppälä, UEF; Clifford Stevenson, Nottingham Trent University, UK; Reetta Riikonen, UEF; & Eerika Finell, UEF

Kontaktiteorian mukaan positiiviset kohtaamiset eri ryhmien välillä voivat parantaa ryhmien välisiä suhteita. Leikkipuistot perheiden suosimana puolijulkisena tilana voivat tarjota tilaisuuden eri etnisten ja kulttuuristen ryhmien välisiin kohtaamisiin monikulttuurisilla asuinalueilla. Aiemman tutkimuksen mukaan eri etnisten ja kulttuuristen ryhmien välinen kontakti on kuitenkin vähäistä monissa paikoissa. Tutkimuksemme tarkastelee pienten lasten äitien ryhmien välisiä kontakteja leikkipuistoissa keskittyen erityisesti siihen, miten segregaatio rakentuu osana leikkipuiston ja siellä käyvien äitien arkisia käytäntöjä. Keräsimme etnografisen aineistomme 11 kuukauden aikana kahdessa kulttuurisesti moninaisessa helsinkiläislähiössä. Analyysissa havaitsimme, että normatiiviset käytännöt tuottavat etnisten ja kulttuuristen ryhmien välistä erillisyyttä kahdella tasolla: Ensinnäkin vanhemmuuden käytännöt normatiivisine arkirytmeineen tuottavat erirytmisyyttä ja näin rajoittavat ryhmien välisiä kontakteja. Toiseksi ryhmien väliseen käyttäytymiseen liittyvät normit sekä hakeutuminen ennestään tuttujen ja samanlaisiksi koettujen seuraan säätelevät äitien vuorovaikutusta puistoissa niin, että kontakteja ei synny edes silloin kun eri ryhmiä edustavat yksilöt ovat tilassa samaan aikaan. Leikkipuistokontekstissa rinnakkaiselon käytännöt noudattavat ryhmien välisiä rajoja uusintaen niitä. Havaintomme leikkipuistojen arjessa tapahtuvasta mikrosegregaatiosta viittaavat siihen, että leikkipuistojen toimintaa tulisi kehittää huomioimaan paremmin erilaiset ryhmät ja vanhemmuuden tavat.

Negotiating Muslimness in urban space 

Riina Sinisalo, University of Helsinki

Cities around the world are changing rapidly, as are the lives of the inhabitants. The eastern part of Helsinki is famous for its plurality, but it is also facing many new spatial developments brought, for example, by the Jokeri Light Rail and city planning project modifying the Itäkeskus area for future needs. This paper proposal aims at, first, presenting a research plan of an on-going ethnographic study on how Muslimness is negotiated in a dynamic urban environment and how city planning processes are tackling religious diversity, and second, describing my own ethnographic experience in the field as a Finnish visibly Muslim female researcher.

In my doctoral research project, I conduct an ethnographic case study in the neighborhoods of Itäkeskus and Puotinharju in Helsinki. I use participant-observation and interviews to find out about the urban routines and experiences of the inhabitants. I also study documents such as city strategies, planning material, photographs, etc., and interview city personnel to track the change in the area and to find out how urban lived reality meets the vision of the city.

With my paper, I discuss some of the issues I have faced in my ethnographic research. These issues include, especially, data collection, building trust, and taking part in negotiating Muslimness as a researcher in an environment where constant change frames coexistence and everyday urban life.

At home in movement 

Denise Ziegler, UniArts

Going beyond the notion of home as a place of dwelling, a landscape, a safe nest where you sprung from and where you are always welcome to return to, this paper ponders on how we perceive the notion of home in public space in an urban environment in 2022. It considers “home” from the point of view of a visual artist and researcher and as a concrete experience emerging on the fringe of our relationship to our surroundings. In different experiential operations and through artistic practice this paper aims to find out where and when “home”happens. A child bike seat – described as the prosthesis for the body of a child attached to a bicycle evokes the notion-of-home-in-motion. “Home” is also experienced as the border between simulation and the real and drawn as an outline of the capacity to see obstacles and imaginative thinking forming realities. The experience of home is emerging in parallax to us moving in and through public urban space. The core of the notion of home in public space is hence considered to be fund in movement and in the momentum kickstarted by it.

On (not) belonging. Affective encounters in suburban everyday 

Minni Haanpää, University of Lapland

This presentation is based on longitudinal, affective autoethnographic observation which has taken place as a part of a research project “Stories from Korkalovaara”. The project explores Lappish suburb as home region and Lappish suburban culture. Korkalovaara is a suburb in the city of Rovaniemi, Lapland. It is a typical Finnish suburb, in a miniature size: an after WW II built, blockhouse intensive area separated from the city centre where there are around 6 000 residents. The remaining services in the area are to be found from the shopping centre. Following the national development currents of the suburbs, Korkalovaara has been on the path of decline during the recent decade(s). One of the biggest influences affecting this development has been the closing of the school because of the indoor air problems in 2016. 

The purpose of this presentation is to reflect my position as a researcher but the questions asked here are also fundamentally present in my everyday as well as in the resident activism I’m involved in.  In this presentation I ask: how living in the “wrong place”, namely a middle-class resident in a socio-economically disadvantaged area (see Vilkama & Vaattovaara, 2015), manifests as affective and embodied experience in different everyday spaces. And to what kind of actions these affectivities; feelings of difference and sameness, (dis)comfort and (not) belonging; result to. 

Spaces of possibilities: Feeling free and able to act 

Jens Brandt, Tampere University

The performative paper presentation will critically use the traditional setting for academic discourse and be a fast paced and highly structured “super site specific” method. It combines elements from performance, pervasive games and psychogeography.

Theoretically the point of departure for the paper is the notion of “abstract space” as it is explored by Henri Lefebvre and others. This space of domination that neutralises any sense of being able to change will be contextualised in the discourse of the affective: How domination in public and socially produced spaces plays out in regards to race, gender and class and how this is embodied in the urban such as segregation.

The paper will claim that the same public and socially produced spaces – the urban – with an embodiment of the social, has an overlooked power for societal transformation. This transformative power is closely linked to a body presence and what I call peripheral perception. This includes all our senses and an experience with a high level of complexity.

This is where spaces of possibilities can be discovered with a sensation of radical openness that sparks the motivation and inspiration to act. This motivation is at first non verbal but still part of a socially produced space. Combining the energy of motivation and the openness that still relates to the social can unleash societal transformation.

Transformation is here understood as “playing the game while writing the rules” that challenge forms such as the written and spoken language. By creating a rhythm that moves between the verbal and non verbal of socially produced spaces we can create a signifying process that empower language and action for possible societal transformation.

The art of living together: urban community as affective niche construction

Michiru Nagatsu & Mikko Salmela

Although urbanisation is one of the global trends in the 21st century, the unified urban science has not emerged yet (see Bettencourt 2021). Instead, different aspects of urban lives have been studied by many disciplines including sociology, economics, psychology, ecology, as well as urban planning. We will propose a transdisciplinary theoretical framework that can potentially integrate psychological, social and spatial aspects of the urban: Niche Construction Theory (NCT) (Odling-Smee, Laland and Feldman 2003; Griffiths and Scarantino 2009; Sterelny 2010). NCT, or its non-evolutionary (i.e. cultural) variation, allows us to study how an agent and her environment (including other agents) dynamically interact and afford certain functions. Also called the scaffolded mind thesis, the theory allows us to analyse various functions of spatially situated and culturally constructed interpersonal and collective activities, such as cooperation, coordination and cohabitation. Specifically, we apply NCT to analyse tensions between urban diversification from market specialisation and rapid cultural changes, and the sense of belonging facilitated by cooperative relations; we then argue that we can achieve the latter in the midst of increasing urban complexity by ensuring two distinct mechanisms that afford affective rewards of the city: (a) situated and embodied interactions of residents to achieve common goals (with or without conflict); (b) cultivation and maintenance of imagined and culturally constructed collective identity (with occasional ‘rituals’ to see and interact with anonymous others). We draw on an interdisciplinary evidence base including the recent archaeological findings about ancient cities with high complexity and diversity (Graeber and Wengrow 2021), philosophical theory of collective emotion (Salmela and Nagatsu 2016; 2018; Nagatsu and Salmela forthcoming), and ritual theories of classical sociology (Durkheim 1912; Collins 2004).