Nira Yuval-Davis is Professor Emeritus, Honorary Director of the Research Centre on Migration, Refugees and Belonging (CMRB) at the University of East London and a Professorial Associated Researcher at the Centre for Gender Studies at the School of African and Oriental Studies (SOAS), University of London. A diasporic Israeli socialist feminist, Nira has been active in different forums against racism and sexism in Israel and other settler colonial societies as well as in the UK and Europe. She has been the President of the Research Committee 05 (on Racism, Nationalism, Indigeneity and Ethnic Relations) of the International Sociological Association, founder member of Women Against Fundamentalism and the international research network on Women In Militarized Conflict Zones and has acted as a consultant for various UN and human rights organisations.
Nira Yuval-Davis has won the 2018 International Sociological Association Distinguished Award for Excellence in Research and Practice. The article she has written with G. Wemyss and K. Cassidy on ‘Everyday Bordering, Belonging and the Reorientation of British Immigration Legislation’, Sociology, 52(2), has won the 2019 Sage Sociology Award for Excellence and Innovation.
Nira Yuval-Davis has written widely on intersected gendered nationalisms, racisms, fundamentalisms, citizenships, identities, belonging/s and everyday bordering. Among her books Woman-Nation-State, 1989, Racialized Boundaries, 1992, Unsettling Settler Societies, 1995, Gender and Nation,1997, The Warning Signs of Fundamentalism, 2004, The Politics of Belonging: Intersectional Contestations, 2011, Women Against Fundamentalism, 2014 and Bordering, 2019. Her works have been translated into more than ten languages.
State, Society, and contemporary politics of belonging and bordering
In this lecture I explore some of the political, social and economic processes which shape contemporary relationships between state and civil society. In particular I explore the ways top-down policies of everyday bordering and bottom-up autochthonic resistance movements are shaping new constructions of state citizenships as well as memberships in particular communities.
The focus of my illustrative examples will be Brexit UK but I argue that they apply much wider in Europe and globally.
John Clarke is an Emeritus Professor at the UK’s Open University and a recurrent Visiting Professor at Central European University. He is currently working on the turbulent times marked by the rise of nationalist, populist and authoritarian politics. Recent publications include: Making Policy Move: Towards a politics of translation and assemblage (with Dave Bainton, Noémi Lendvai and Paul Stubbs; Policy Press, 2015) and Critical Dialogues: Thinking Together in Turbulent Times, based on a series of conversations with people who have helped him to think (Policy Press, 2019).
Contesting Community in Theory and Practice
I propose to explore some of the ways in which community is an unstable and contested idea in both academic work and political life. In doing so I will focus on three main issues:
- The conceptual instability of community in sociological and anthropological work, with particular reference to the diverse types of social relations that are imagined to be at stake in the formation of community. Each of these diverse meanings tends to borrow from, and reinforce, what Raymond Williams once called its ‘warmly persuasive’ character.
- The role of ‘community’ in what might be called ‘governmental projects’ that seek to create social order, social discipline, social integration and similar objectives. Here I will suggest that there are recurring mismatches between governmental imaginaries and lived social relations that often result in the failure of the community to materialise, or at least, to materialise in the expected form.
- The continuing significance of community as a shifting and contested site of political identification, attachment and mobilisation. Political groups (locally, nationally and internationally) often lay claim to the idea of community as a mobilising focus and point of affiliation. Why does community continue to exercise this fascination? What happens when people refuse to be spoken for in this way? What alternatives exist to the ‘community’?
Mia Liinason is Wallenberg Academy Fellow and Professor of Gender Studies at the Department of Cultural Sciences, University of Gothenburg. Mia is the project leader of the research project Spaces of Resistance, which examines transnational encounters in feminist and queer struggle in Russia, Turkey and Scandinavia. Mia is also the director of TechnAct: Transformations of Struggle, a research cluster devoted to explore the impact of digital technologies on civil society engagements and social movement activisms in transnational contexts. Mia has previously been researching feminist, anti-racist and queer grassroots activisms and politics of decolonization in a Swedish context and explored interactions between struggles for women’s rights and neoliberal reconfigurations of the Scandinavian welfare states. She is the coordinator of the international network Transforming values, which organizes workshops, panels and public events to gather and disseminate knowledge on how gender, sexuality, and race/ethnicity intersect with religiosity and secularity across the globe. Mia has published several books, edited collections and articles on transnational feminist and queer engagements. Recent relevant publications include: “Challenging the visibility paradigm: Tracing ambivalences in lesbian migrant women’s negotiations of sexual identity, Journal of Lesbian Studies 2019; Equality Struggles. Feminist Movements, Neoliberal Markets and State Political Agendas in Scandinavia, Routledge 2018; “Borders and belongings in Nordic feminisms and beyond,” Gender, Place and Culture. A Journal of Feminist Geography vol. 25, no. 7, 2018, and with Erika Alm “Ungendering Europe: Critical Engagements with Key Objects in Feminism”, a guest edited section of Gender, Place and Culture summer 2018.
From imagined to emergent communities. Exploring new modes of connectivity and belonging through technocultural assemblages
Digital technologies offer tremendous possibilities for collectives such as feminist and sexual rights groups to connect across geographical distances. Recent examples of such appearances are varied and diverse, from the #metoo campaign to the global solidarity actions with the LGBT community in Chechnya and the vibrant flashmob of #LasTesis currently spreading worldwide. These appearances demonstrate that digital collective action travels virally across the globe. Yet, despite the profound intensity of these recent transformations, scholars today lack deeper insights about the relation between digital technologies and emergent communities in transnational space.
While notions and feelings of borderlessness and of machine neutrality follow easily from digital technologies, in this key note presentation, I will follow the initiative of postcolonial feminist, technoscience and critical race scholars and attend to the interconnections between the digital, the social and the cultural, referred to as ‘technocultural assemblages.’ I will do so by drawing on recent interventions to this research area and highlight some of the problems, dangers, and missed opportunities that appear in the absence of attention to the ways in which technology interconnects with the borders, prejudices and affects of social and cultural worlds.
Based on material collected through digital ethnography and building further on an interdisciplinary body of scholarship, I will provide an analysis of a recent viral flashmob, performed by the Chilean artist collective Las Tesis. This analysis will discuss the impact of the generative mechanisms of the digital for the expansion of this performance and expose the role of the technolinguistic grammar of the hashtag for the creation of feelings of connectivity and belonging from afar (Stewart and Schultze 2019; Oh et al. 2015). Yet, I will argue that it is not until we attend to the entanglements between offline and online worlds that we can grasp the full force of this phenomenon and its fundamental challenge to existing assumptions of digital activism as a disembodied kind of ‘clicktivism’ or ‘slacktivism’ in the lack of real engagement. I will bring to light the ways in which such offline-online entanglements invite us to reimagine these protests and solidarities as a kind of local-global connectivity through new modes of belonging, not based on naturalized conceptions of familial or national belonging or on notions of a universal global community, but situated in transnational politics of struggle and solidarity.
Onook Oh, Chanyoung Eom, H. R. Rao (2015) ”Research Note—Role of Social Media in Social Change: An Analysis of Collective Sense Making During the 2011 Egypt Revolution”. Information Systems Research 26(1): 210-223.
Stewart, Maya and Ulrike Schultze (2019) “Producing solidarity in social media activism: The case of My Stealthy Freedom”, Information and Organization 29: 1-23.
Sanna Valkonen, Áile Aikio (University of Lapland) & Sigga-Marja Magga (University of Oulu)
Sanna Valkonen is a Professor of Sámi Research at the University of Lapland and a Docent of Sámi culture at the University of Oulu. She is a Sámi scholar from Northern Finland. Her academic background is in political science, but she has concentrated during her whole research career on developing the field of social scientific Sámi research. The main themes of her research have dealt with politics of indigeneity, belonging, political subjectivity and identity, gender, religion as well as related power relations in the Sámi context. Recently, the focus of her research has extended to the questions of Sámi cultural heritage and human-nature relations as well as environmental questions, traditional knowledge and developing Sámi research concepts and methods in cooperation with Sámi artists and cultural experts.
Áile Aikio (Luobbal-Sámmol-Aimo Áile) is an Indigenous Sámi museum professional. Aikio is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Lapland and has a master’s degree on Ethnology. In her Ph.D. Aikio studies the renewal process of the Siida main exhibition and how the Sámi way to present and represent Sámi culture is part of the exhibition process and the new exhibition. Aikio has been curator in Sámi Museum Siida in Anár/Inari in Finland since 2005, first in Collections and since 2016 as Curator of exhibitions and museum pedagogy. At the moment Aikio is on study leave. Aikio is interested in indigenizing and decolonizing processes, especially how to indigenize cultural heritage management and heritage institutions.
PhD Sigga-Marja Magga is a researcher of Sámi cultural studies. She is specialized in Sámi handicrafts, duodji with her own duodji production but also in academic studies. Her special interest is connected to the tensions between the institutionalized duodji and the growth of cultural and social polyphony in the Sámi society: how the Sámis react and construct cultural, political and social changes with and through duodji. Magga is particularly interested in how the Sámi political and cultural resistance takes place with duodji. She studies gákti, the Sámi dress and its meanings as a tool in cultural and political resistance and how the gákti resistance changes and constructs different kind of realities and meanings in Sámi society and culture.
Suohpput sámi máilmmiid – the multiple worlds of a heddle loom
Weaving Sámi garments such as shoe laces and belts with njuikun, a Sámi heddle loom, is a living tradition among the Sámi and as such, an important part of Sámi cultural heritage. The Sámi word for cultural heritage is kulturárbi, inherited culture. This kulturárbi is based on holistic understanding of the world, emergent conjunction where everything is perpetually and continuously interconnected. Again, as a concept of law and politics, cultural heritage is largely a production of international protection discourses and conventions central to which are dualistic classifications to tangible and intangible or material and immaterial heritage as well as to natural and cultural heritage. The Sámi tradition to weave with njuikun exceeds all these classifications.
In our presentation, we will discuss the multiple realities of Sámi cultural heritage by examining a heddle loom as a social and cultural practice assembling Sámi communities and their pasts, presents and futures. What kinds of worlds does a heddle loom enact as an artefact and as a practice? The perspective we bring forth opens up for analysis of cultural heritage as a dynamic and relational process that exceeds dualistic divisions.by