Keynote speakers

Keynote speakers of the conference are:

Amade M’charek is Professor of Anthropology of Science at the Department of Anthropology, University of Amsterdam. She is the PI of the RaceFaceID project, an ERC-consolidator project on forensic identification and the making of face and race. Although she has also conducted research on medical practices, her focus is mainly on genetic diversity, population genetics and forensic DNA practices. Her interest is in the ir/relevance of race in such practice and the ways in which race is done in them, and in the relation between the individual and the collective.  She has published on these topics, e.g. The Human Genome Diversity Project: An ethnography of scientific practice (2005 Cambridge University Press), Silent Witness, Articulate Collective: DNA Evidence and the Inference of Visible Traits(2008 Bioethics), Beyond fact or fiction: On the materiality of race in practice (2013 Cultural Anthropology).

Keynote: Moving Bodies, Performative Circulations: The case of dead-bodies-at-the-border

This talk is about circulations and what circulations bring about. Following a case in which dead bodies are moved about and managed, it demonstrates the performative work of circulations and invites us to attend empirically to circulations as an object of research.

In the past decades we have witnessed how thousands and thousands of dead bodies have washed ashore at the southern European borders. These bodies have received little attention from authorities, and the work of properly documenting them is starting slowly. In this talk I will draw on a pilot project that had started in July 2015 in Sicily. A shipwreck that had probably shipped some 900 people was boarded from the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea. The aim of this spectacular pilot project was to properly manage, i.e. document, examine and possibly identify who these dead people were.

Based on an ethnographic study of the forensic examination of these bodies, following the movement of bodies and taking the fact that bodies have to be moved as a methodological hint, I argue that circulation is as a generative process. It is thus poorly understood if viewed as a simple process of transmission, a movement of people, commodities, or ideas from one place to another, but. I show how circulation (1) brings about identities and is actively involved in the constant translation of bodies; (2) brings about the very infrastructure to make movement possible and it does so in surprising and creative ways; (3) is crucially also about the active stopping of movement.

Ruben Andersson is an associate professor at the Department of International Development, University of Oxford, and an associated researcher at the Department of Social Anthropology, Stockholm University. He is the author of Illegality, Inc.: Clandestine migration and the business of bordering Europe (University of California Press 2014), which won the 2015 BBC/British Sociological Association Ethnography Award. He has written extensively on border security, irregular migration and related topics, with specific reference to West Africa and southern Europe. His ongoing research is concerned with security risk and the ‘mapping of danger’ in international crisis interventions from a comparative perspective, building on his fieldwork in Mali.

Keynote: The circular logics of security: notes from the borders

This talk gives an ethnographer’s take on circulation and circularity by special reference to one of the most highly politicised issues of our time, ‘unwanted’ international migration. The purpose is twofold: to emphasise the need for sociologists and anthropologists to study systems of intervention in all their (ethnographic) detail, and to push for a deeper understanding of the shared, often destructive logics embedded in many such systems today. Irregular migration exemplifies the challenges. Not too long ago,  a ‘celebration of circulation’ was evident in both policy and academic circles – influencing how social scientists approached migration from the ‘bottom up,’ studying migrants themselves. Our current political moment of ‘securitized’ mobility seems to presage an end to such circulatory optimisim. However, if we shift our focus away from migrants themselves and onto systems of security, we soon see how a proliferation of circulations – of machinery, manpower, ideas and more – underpins attempts to halt migratory circulation. Lifting our gaze further in a comparative vein, we may also identify shared circular logics at work in security ‘systems’ ranging from border reinforcement to counterterror and counternarcotics. In short, an ‘inside’, ethnographic view on the circular logics of security opens up for a wider consideration of how destructive systems of intervention develop, are justified, and consolidate – as well as potential openings for how to change or dismantle them.

Mianna Meskus works as academy research fellow at University of Helsinki, where she leads Academy of Finland and Kone Foundation funded research projects studying value creation and governance related to reproduction and ageing. Meskus will start as associate professor at University of Tampere in May 2018.Together with Riikka Homanen she leads the recently founded Finnish Reproductive Studies Network (FiResNet). Meskus has previously worked as university lecturer in science and technology studies in Helsinki and visiting research fellow at LSE and King’s College, London. Meskus has published on reproduction, embodiment, biomedicine, technologies and ethics in national and international scientific publications, and co-edited with Sari Irni and Venla Oikkonen the volume Muokattu elämä(Moulded life: Technoscience, gender and materiality, Vastapaino, 2014). Her forthcoming book Craft in Biomedical Research: The iPS Cell Technology and the Future of Stem Cell Science investigates scientific craftwork and its tensions in the age of high-throughput knowledge production.

Keynote: Scientific craftwork and the circulation of human biological material

What do we fear in life? We fear disease and death, the disintegration of the mind and the degeneration of the body. Where do we look for alleviation? Most of us turn to medicine, expecting biomedical knowledge, products and treatments will provide the cures for ourselves and our family members. We consent to give blood, urine, tissue, and personal data for biomedical research with the hope of helping medicine out. This talk addresses the circulation of human biological material from the perspective of “scientific craftwork” and its practical conditions. Using stem cell research as an example, I discuss how sociologists can make sense of knowledge production that involves “the hands and brains” of researches, quoting one head of laboratory of my ethnographic fieldwork. In the material politics of science, this craftwork cuts across the local and global as well as the political and economic as human biology (our biology) is being turned into functional, profitable technology.

Dr.Sc. Maria Åkerman acts as a Principal Scientist at VTT Technical Research Centre where her focus area is dynamics of socio-technical change. She has multidisciplinary background in social sciences, namely environmental policy, science and technology studies and economics and her key research interests include politics of environmental knowledge production, socio-technical transformations, sustainability of natural resources governance and material politics. Working at the interface and across various disciplines, she has also been interested in methodologies of interdisciplinary research and collaborative knowledge production.  In addition to VTT, Maria Åkerman is currently also affiliated to the University of Eastern Finland as Principal Investigator of a research project dealing with nutrient recycling and shifting economies of fertilisation. She has previously acted as a Professor in natural resources policy at the University of Eastern Finland (UEF), and as a researcher at the Centre for Knowledge, Science, Technology and Innovation Studies (TaSTI) at the University of Tampere and at the research group of Environmental Policy at the University of Tampere.

Keynote: Elävää painoa: kunpa siirtymä lineaarisesta kiertotalouteen olisikin helppoa

Ilmastonmuutos, luonnon monimuotoisuuden heikentyminen, kriittisten luonnonvarojen saatavuuteen liittyvät ongelmat sekä globaalisti kasvavat jätevuoret ovat viime vuosina tehneet lineaarisen talousajattelun kritiikistä salonkikelpoisen keskustelunaiheen. Näiden uhkakuvien edessä monet toimijat, kuten Euroopan unioni, ovat lähteneet etsimään luonnonvaroja tuhlailevasti hyödykkeistä jätteiksi muuttavalle lineaariselle talousjärjestelmälle uutta suuntaa materiaalien suljettuun kiertoon nojaavasta kiertotalousajattelusta.

Siirtymä lineaarisesta materiaalikierrosta suljettuun ei ole yksinkertaista. Toteutuessaan kyseessä olisi laajamittainen systeeminen muutos, jossa parisataa vuotta rakentuneen talousjärjestelmän toiminnan logiikka, toimijoiden roolit sekä tuotannon ja kuluttamisen käytännöt järjestyvät uudelleen. Jäte yhtäällä ei muutu resurssiksi toisaalla ilman kamppailua, vaivannäköä ja uudenlaisia ajallisia ja tilallisia kytkeytymisiä. Siirtymä edellyttää perustuvanlaatuisia muutoksia niissä käytännöissä, joilla materiaaleja arjessa käsitellään, varastoidaan, siirrellään ja sekoitetaan muihin aineisiin. Se edellyttää myös muutoksia tavoissa, joilla materiaalien vaihdannasta sovitaan sekä materiaalien arkista hyödyntämistä mahdollistavassa ja estävässä yhteiskunnallisessa ohjaus- ja sääntelyjärjestelmässä. Aineellisen muuntumisen mukana myös inhimillisen yhteiselon ehdot muuntuvat. Kyse on laajemmasta inhimillistä toimintaa ehdollistavien aineellisten järjestysten muuntumisesta – aineellisen politiikasta.

Pureudun esityksessäni materiaalikierron politiikkaan seuraamalla, kuinka suomalaista lantaylijäämää on yritetty muuntaa jätteestä resurssiksi. Tarkastelen sitä, millaisiin aineellisiin järjestyksiin toimijat törmäävät, kun he hakevat uusia ratkaisuja ylijäämäisten materiaalien muuntamiseksi resurssiksi sekä kuinka ja millä areenoilla näitä aineellisia järjestyksiä horjutetaan ja muunnetaan. Pyrkimyksenä on herättää keskustelua siitä, minkälaista ymmärrystä yhteiskunnallisen muutoksen dynamiikasta yhteiskuntatieteilijä voi saada aineellisen politiikkaa tutkimalla. Samalla kysyn, minkälaisia uudenlaisia haavoittuvuuksia tällainen lähestymistapa yhteiskuntatieteilijälle tutkijana tuottaa.

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