INEQ Research Seminar Autumn 2021

Every other Thursday at 12–14, INEQ holds an interdisciplinary research seminar 'Intersecting Inequalities' (I2) for the Helsinki University based scholars, visitors and collaborators working with projects, issues and questions related to inequality.

During the 2021 Autumn term, the research seminar sessions will continue to be held online. Participants can attend the seminar with a remote access on Zoom, the link will be distributed on INEQ mailing list. Join us! If you are not on the mailing list and would like to participate in the seminar, please email Project Planner Nette Holopainen (nette.holopainen(at)

September 16: Associate Professor Lei Yang (Minzu University of China)

Postponed to December 9!


September 30: Postdoctoral Researcher Julian Honkasalo

From in­di­vidual re­si­li­ence to communities of solid­ar­ity: Un­der­stand­ing care as a rad­ical, polit­ical concept 

Postdoctoral Researcher Julian Honkasalo (UH), Gender Studies

Queer history of care and feminist research on non-heterosexual care labor often focus on practices of care during the 1980s and 90s HIV/AIDS pandemic as a paradigm example of resistance to structural violence. In such a context queer care-taking and care-giving is theorized as the making of alternative communities, safety-networks and kinship structures to that of the heteronormative State which failed the queer community during the HIV/AIDS crisis (Gould 2002; Hines 2007).   

Drawing and building on previous queer and feminist care scholarship, I examine unpaid care-taking and care-giving as they emerge in 1960s transfeminine community-building and letter clubs. I will argue 1) that care is importantly related to desire and 2) that care as a practice has a radical, politically transformative potential. Whereas queer studies often theorize desire as a concept related to eroticism, sexuality, and cruising, it is my contention that when examined in the context of 1960s transfeminine community building, desire emerges as a deeply gendered concept, related to the play, pleasure, euphoria and freedom of living and being grounded in one’s body. Desire thus becomes particularly meaningful in trans community contexts where gendered identities are imagined, created and claimed, regardless of the every-day risks of shame, rejection, marginalization and violence. Finally, I argue that a historical tendency in queer studies to focus on gay male, sexually subversive practices as forms of resistance to normalization (eg. Edelman 2004; Bersani 1989, Munoz 2009) risks leading to an understanding of resistance as grounded in individual resilience and individualized care of the self (eg. Foucault). As a corrective, I present transfeminine practices of care in 1960s trans community-building as an alternative way to envision resistance as a collective practice grounded in solidarity.   

Discussant: Doctoral Researcher Antti Hämäläinen (JYU), Social Policy

October 14: University Researcher Laura Kemppainen and Doctoral Researcher Anastasia Asikainen (AgeCare)

Experiences of integration among older migrants in Finland

University Researcher Laura Kemppainen (UH) and Doctoral Researcher Anastasia Asikainen (UH), Sociology

Our presentation is based on our on-going studies on migrant integration from the perspective of older Russian-speaking adults living in Finland. First, we will briefly discuss the recent academic critiques on the concept of integration, some of which decry any further use of it due to the concept’s alleged normativity, ‘othering’ of migrants and methodological nationalism, among other reasons. Then we will present our theoretical approaches to integration and proceed to our empirical findings. Kemppainen will present preliminary results on multi-focal and multidimensional integration from the CHARM study, which is a representative survey of Russian speakers in Finland aged 50 years and older (1,082 respondents, response rate of 36%) collected by the CoE AgeCare (University of Helsinki) in 2019. The analysis takes a multidimensional and multi-focal view on migrant integration including three key foci of integration: the destination society, the transnational sphere and the co-ethnic community in the destination society as well as different dimensions: economic, social, cultural and emotional. Asikainen will present findings from her paper that foregrounds the processual, spatial, and temporal aspects of the lived experience of integration by looking at its interpretations and mundane enactments in one specific place. The paper is based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted over one year (2018 –2019) in a meeting place for older Russian-speaking migrants in the capital region of Finland, in-depth interviews (N=26) and documents from the meeting place. It adopts a qualitative approach to one focus from Kemppainen’s research, the co-ethnic community. The paper concludes that even in one specific place the discourse of integration can produce different interpretations, as well as meaning makings. The findings emphasise the arbitrary uses of integration, as it can hold power over the attendees, however, it can be mobilised by the older migrants in complex dynamics and negotiations to find a sense of belonging.

Discussant: Professor Tineke Fokkema (Erasmus University Rotterdam; Senior Researcher at the Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute, NIDI-KNAW)

October 28: Professor Reetta Toivanen

How sustainable are sustainability goals for indigenous peoples? A case with arctic Sámi indigenous peoples

Professor Reetta Toivanen (UH; HELSUS), Sustainability Science (indigenous sustainabilities)

Human rights are among the key concepts of sustainability science because they constitute the basis for sustainable wellbeing in any given society. Human rights form an understanding of a world in which individuals and peoples can trust in justice and claim rights by virtue of being human. The idea of international human rights law is that it is not up to a specific government to decide how it treats individuals and peoples living in its territory. Thus, human rights form a discourse of emancipation with a universal outreach. The adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development connected sustainability with human rights strongly in presenting the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as based on human rights. However, there are some tensions that continue to oppose SDGs to human rights. Furthermore, Indigenous peoples are in the SDG’s mainly addressed as objects that need support. Considering that different groups of peoples, majority, minorities and indigenous, often live in the same state, providing sustainable policies that will account for all equally may therefore become a daunting task. This contribution is illustrated with an example from the Arctic indigenous peoples in Finland, namely the Sámi people.

Discussant: Assistant Professor Dorothee Cambou (UH), Law

November 11: Senior Researcher Jukka Lehtonen

Sexual and gender diversity in Covid-19-crises: Perspectives of LGBTI people and organisations on education and work environment

Senior Researcher Jukka Lehtonen (UH), Gender Studies, CoWeAll project

In Finland, like everywhere else, the COVID-19 crisis has affected a lot of people, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people. In my presentation, I will share results of my research. I conducted a survey for LGBTI people (N=325) in the fall 2020 and made interviews with employees and activists of LGBTI organisations (N=23) in summer 2020. This research is part of the diversity and equality related research project CoWeAll. This research is an extension of the WeAll project ( for the purpose of analysing the COVID-19 crises from working life contexts. I argue that the way LGBTI people are positioned in the Finnish labour market invites greater COVID-19-related risks than cisgender heterosexuals. Risks are also greater for LGBTI people because they live more often than cisgender heterosexuals in areas, such as Helsinki region, which are hardest hit by the pandemic. The minority position is also an important aspect when analysing such experiences. Over 90% of LGBTI student respondents said COVID-19 influenced their studies. The most common influence was remote learning, when schools were closed and students studied at home with computers. The same was true for LGBTI people at work, many of whom worked remotely. For LGBTI students and employees this sometimes provided safety. One fifth of the respondents said that remote learning had decreased discrimination, bullying and unjust behaviour towards them. A third said that the COVID-19 pandemic had made it less likely that they were treated badly based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Some faced difficulties, such as problems concentrating on studies or work, increased loneliness and fear of getting infected by COVID. The crisis motivated them to drop out of education and it strained relationships with people at home. Non-heterosexual women were affected by the pandemic more often than men, and transmasculine respondents more often than transfeminine. In my interviews with LGBTI human rights organisation activists and employees (N=23) I found that much of the educational outreach work with schools, peer-groups and client meetings had been cancelled, stopped or changed into some type of remote work. Despite the problematics, remote work has created possibilities to reach new audiences. Even if the pandemic has eased discrimination and bullying, there have been several serious and long-lasting problems among LGBTI people, such as mental health and loneliness issues. The research is revealing; both LGBTI organisations and especially the Finnish social and health care system have failed to respond to such difficult situations of LGBTI people.

Discussant: Development Manager Satu Majlander (THL; Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare)

November 25: No seminar

Postponed to December 15!

December 9: Associate Professor Lei Yang (Minzu University of China)

Health inequality in China’s medical reform 

Associate Professor Lei Yang (MUC), Sociology and Demography

Health inequality exists everywhere in the world. It is a serious challenge to the development of a society. In addition to the social-determinants of health inequality, the reform of medical system and policies affect the progress of health inequality as well. In this discussion, I will first introduce the history and different stages of medical reforms in China after 1949, and then discuss its effects to the progress of health inequality (in several dimensions) in China in particular the marketization of health system after 1980s using the detailed statistics data. Lastly, how Chinese government has addressed health inequality in recent five years and its potential effects will be presented. 

Discussant: Assistant Professor Anni Kajanus (UH), Social and Cultural Anthropology

December 15: Special Issue on Platform-based Tourism and Urban Justice - special event with Paola Minoia (UH) and Salla Jokela (Tampere University)

NB! This seminar session is held exceptionally on Wednesday at 10:00-11:30 (UTC+2)

Journal of Sustainable Tourism

Senior Lecturer and Adjunct Professor Paola Minoia (UH), Global Development Studies, and University Lecturer Salla Jokela (Tampere University), Sustainable Urban Development

This seminar will present a special issue to be published in the Journal of Sustainable Tourism edited by Senior Lecturer and Adjunct Professor Paola Minoia (UH) and University Lecturer Salla Jokela (TUNI). They and other presenters in this seminar will introduce theoretical and empirical perspectives on platforms used for short-term property rentals. The case studies are from Helsinki, Copenhagen, Venice, Lisbon, Porto, Philadelphia and Byron Shire. Together, they illustrate the impact of platform-mediated tourism and, especially, Airbnb on residents’ quality of life, working conditions, housing markets, and urban structures. There is evidence of normative loopholes that have facilitated financial speculations in the housing market, as denounced by social movements for residential rights. With the outbreak of Covid-19, while tourism has had a temporary break, some local authorities have started to take action to gain control over data owned by the platforms, necessary for the urban governance. However, so far, their claims for regaining a clear political space in front of financial investors in the tourism markets, have remained timid.

Presenters and their articles in the special issue:

  • Paola Minoia (UH) & Salla Jokela (Tampere University): Platform-mediated tourism: social justice and urban governance before and during Covid-19 (see article)
  • Mathilde Dissing Christensen (Cardiff University): Performing a peer-to-peer economy: how Airbnb hosts navigate socio-institutional frameworks (see article)
  • Giacomo-Maria Salerno (Sapienza University of Rome): Venice as a short-term city. Between global trends and local lock-ins (see article)
  • Kate Torkington (University of Algarve): Whose right to the city? An analysis of the mediatized politics of place surrounding alojamento local issues in Lisbon and Porto (see article)
  • Rodney W. Caldicott (Southern Cross University): Third-party impacts of short-term rental accommodation: a community survey to inform government responses (see article)

Discussant: University Researcher Özlem Çelik (UH), Global Development Studies