INEQ Research Seminar Spring 2022

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 Spring 2022 term, the research seminar sessions will continue to be held (partially) 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)

February 10: Doctoral Researcher Mandira Halder (University of Geneva)

How do second language (L2) teachers negotiate L2 language curriculum choices in their teaching practices? A comparison of Finland and French-speaking Switzerland

Doctoral researcher Mandira Halder (University of Geneva), Educational Sciences & Applied Linguistics

Finland and Switzerland are two countries where the influx of migrant populations from European countries and other parts of the world has led to rapidly evolving linguistic and culturally diverse landscapes. More and more local-born official language-speaking students rub shoulders with their peers coming from migrant background families in increasingly multilingual classrooms. How do teachers negotiate second language (L2) curriculum choices and language use in such heterogeneous contexts?

My talk is built on comparison of two research contexts. I first introduce results of my doctoral study, which focuses on L2 teachers’ negotiations of curriculum choices and language use in classroom interaction with migrant background children in a primary school in French-Speaking Switzerland. Second, I introduce the objectives of my new Finland-based research project where I investigate how Finnish L2 teachers negotiate curriculum choices and how they adjust their L2 teaching practices concerning migrant background children. The investigation focuses on policy guidelines, and on L2 teachers’ curricular choices around L2 Finnish in classroom teaching.

In the Swiss context students must study both in L1 French and L2 German, and the teachers are responsible for teaching both languages, despite their level of expertise as L2 German-speakers. In both contexts, for migrant background students, the official language becomes the dominant language. Home language gets the status of a minority language, and schools do not provide formal assessment in L2, like in other school subjects.

Bio: Mandira Halder is a doctoral candidate in Educational Sciences, the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and M.A. in Applied linguistics from the University of Nantes, France. Born in West Bengal, India, she is multilingual, and a fluent speaker in English, French, German and Bengali. She also speaks Hindi and has notions of Polish, Norwegian and Romanian. She works as a foreign language teacher and coordinator in Lausanne, Switzerland. She is conducting a comparative study on second language choices in Finland in spring 2022 with a mobility grant from the University of Geneva.

Discussants: University Lecturer Heini Lehtonen (UH, Languages) & Postdoctoral Researcher Ulla Buchert (UH, Social Policy)

March 10: Professor Mona Livholts

Exhaustive Inequalities and Situated Writing as Creative Resistance in a Post-Anthropocentric World

Professor Mona Livholts (UH), Social work

I was drawn to the language of exhaustion when I was travelling to my doctor for a health control a grayish autumn day a few years ago. Located in the train, passing through tunnels and landscapes in urbanized space, while listening to sounds, seeing people, houses, and landscapes, I had begun to read the architect and philosopher Hélène Frichot’s book Creative Ecologies: Theorizing the Practice of Architecture (2019). What caught my attention was how the book offered ‘exhaustion’ and ‘exhaustive’ as philosophical concepts, visualizing the interdependency of humans and their environmental worlds. In this talk I propose that the language of exhaustion is useful for re-thinking and seeing anew what is often referred to as social problems and inequalities. My talk builds on a dialogue with the literature of exhaustion to re-think and re-write intersecting relations of power and inequality in a post-anthropocentric wor(l)dliness of more-than-human interdependencies. Drawing on my work on situated writing and the untimely academic novella, I illustrate how writing and visual processes can be used as a diffractive strategy to promote creative resistance through acts of thinkable practices and caring to challenge exhaustive inequalities.

Bio: Mona Livholts [pronouns: hon/hän/she], is a Swedish-Finnish Professor of Social Work in the Department of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki; Secretary and Executive Member of the European Association of Schools of Social Work (EASSW); founder and leader of The Network for Reflexive Academic Writing Methodologies (RAW) 2008–2017. Her research focuses on creative writing, art-based methods, and intersectionality by uses of narrative life writing genres such as diaries and letters, memory work, poetry, and photography. Themes include narratives on rape and sexual harassment, gender, space, and communication, gender in psychiatric care, community art-based practices in the study of monuments, glocal- and post-anthropocentric social work.

Discussant: Postdoctoral Researcher Riikka Hohti (UH, Educational Sciences)

March 24: Associate Professor Jussi Eronen [CANCELLED]

[CANCELLED! We are looking for a possible alternative date.]

Resilience - ecological origins, new use in social sciences

Associate Professor Jussi Eronen (UH, Environmental Sciences)

Resilience has become a buzzword in sustainability studies and in adaptation/preparation planning for the uncertain future. But what are it’s ecological origins, and how it came to be such central concept in Sustainability Science? I’ll give a brief overview from natural science point of view and some examples from other fields how resilience has been used and understood. The idea is to provide context for a lively discussion and arguments, and see how we can come to common understanding (hopefully) after all.

Discussants: Lily-Ann Wolff (Associate professor/Adjunct professor in Environmental education, UH), Mikko Rask (Adjunct Professor of Environmental Policy and Principal Investigator at the Consumer Society Research Centre, UH) & Researcher Henrik Thorén (Lund University, Theoretical Philosophy)

April 7: Grant-funded Researcher Gutu Wayessa

Environmental (in)justices of the processes and outcomes of land deals in Oromia, Ethiopia 

Grant-funded Researcher Gutu Wayessa (UH), Global Development Studies

Large-scale land deals often come with multiple premises and promises of local and extra-local significance. Several premises are put forward to justify land deals in terms of growth rationale, while the promises of livelihoods improvement are given to local people by government authorities and investment companies. In preparing land for sale or lease, premises and promises are often deployed during the process of “consultation” with local people. This provides an entry point for exploring the processes of land deals and for comparing them against the lived realities of local people. This study involves two land lease cases in Bakko Tibbe district of Oromia National Regional State, Ethiopia. It conceives livelihood implications of any land lease as a cumulative outcome of changes in access to local resources, the extra-local opportunities that may come along the investments, and the processes that led to the outcomes. The study critically examines, especially, the promises pledged by the government and investment companies on the one hand, and the realities lived by the local people on the other. It employs social-environmental justice as a theoretical lens, constituted of procedural justice in relation to decision-making processes and distributive justices relating to outcomes, i.e. in terms of the distribution of burdens and benefits. It adopts a mixed-methods approach, combining qualitative data (interviews) and quantitative data (household survey) gathered through ethnographic fieldwork. This study provides evidence of exclusion and adverse incorporation by illuminating specific processes and outcomes of livelihood dynamics through the framework of socio-environmental justice.

Discussants: Professor Jeremy Gould (UH, Global Development Studies) & University Lecturer Simo Kyllönen (UH, Theoretical Philosophy)

April 21: University Lecturer Teemu Pauha

Islamophobia and the Construction of a Finnish Muslim Identity

University Lecturer Teemu Pauha (UH), Study of Religions

Several survey studies show that the Finnish population has a predominantly negative attitude towards Islam. Islam is generally perceived as a foreign religion and Muslims as a potential threat to the Finnish culture and way of life. At the same time, a growing number of Muslims are born and raised in Finland. How to construct an identity as a Muslim Finn in a context in which Finnishness and Muslimness are often perceived as incompatible?  

In my presentation, I introduce findings from my doctoral dissertation in which I investigated the identity formation of young Finnish Muslims from a social psychological perspective. I examine meanings that young Muslims associate with their various identities and outline various strategies that can be used to combine said identities.  

What my findings demonstrate is that Finnishness is associated with a variety of meanings. On one hand, the dominant representations of Finnishness include Lutheranism and heavy use of intoxicants. On the other hand, Finnishness is described as being about certain virtues, for example, modesty and trustworthiness. Perhaps not surprisingly, my young Muslim interlocutors appeared to find it easier to identify with the former than with the latter. 

The young Muslims interviewed for my study appeared to have two strategies for dealing with potential tensions between Finnish and Muslim identities. Some of them—especially those active in Islamic youth organisations—were very consciously attempting to shape what they called “Finnish Islam” by applying customs that they perceived as Finnish within the normative framework provided by their interpretation of Islam. In turn, others argued for the idea of there being one true Islam that is the same for everyone and, therefore, needs to be purified of all local, regional, and national variations.

Discussants: Professor Titus Hjelm (UH, Study of Religions) & Doctoral Researcher Amiirah Salleh-Hoddin (UH, Social Psychology; Co-Founder and Chair of the Anti-Racist Forum in Finland;

May 12: Special Issue: Recent Trends in Inequality and Exclusion in Latin America, with Maria Amparo Cruz-Saco, Silvia Borzutzky and Florencia Quesada

NB! This seminar session is held exceptionally at 15:30-17:00 (UTC+3)

Recent Trends in Inequality and Exclusion in Latin America

In this special event the editor Maria Amparo Cruz-Saco (Connecticut College / Universidad del Pacífico) and two authors, Silvia Borzutzky (Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University) and Florencia Quesada (UH), will introduce a special issue "Recent Trends in Inequality and Exclusion in Latin America" in the Social Inclusion journal (Volume 10, Issue 1; see the complete issue).


Since the early 1990s, a market-orientated policymaking in Latin American countries was not conducive to securing decent and productive jobs and/or eliminate gender inequities. It served, rather, to limit social investments that were needed to increase wellbeing, social cohesion, and eventually, much needed productivity gains. In the Social Inclusion special issue on inequality and exclusion, the authors use a variety of methodologies to deepen our interdisciplinary understanding of the causes and dynamics of this issue. Professor Florencia Quesada's paper analyzes the multiple manifestations of violence and environmental risks as well as the complex dynamics of both issues that generate more unequal and harmful conditions for residents in Guatemala City. Professor Silvia Borzutzki, and co-author Sarah Perry, assess the evolution of Chile's feminist movement that drove to the development of claims against "the precarity of life," uniting Chileans in a common struggle that contributed to the October 2019 "social explosion." And finally, Professor Maria Amparo Cruz Saco, and co-authors Mirian Gil and Cynthia Campos, show that gender inequity during a woman's life-span in Peru manifests acutely among older persons which raises important implications for policy interventions.

Presented articles in the seminar:

On the Fringes of Urban Justice: Violence and Environmental Risks in Guatemala City (see article)
By Florencia Quesada

“The Revolution Will Be Feminist—Or It Won’t Be a Revolution”: Feminist Response to Inequality in Chile (see article)
By Sarah Perry and Silvia Borzutzky

Gender Inequity: Older Workers and the Gender Labor Income Gap in Peru (see article)
By Maria Amparo Cruz Saco, Mirian Gil and Cynthia Campos

Maria Amparo Cruz Saco, Joanne Toor Cummings ’50 Professor of Economics at Connecticut College (USA) & Associated Researcher and Visiting Professor at Universidad del Pacífico (CIUP, Lima, Peru), earned a BS (with highest honors; published thesis) and Licenciatura both in Economics (Universidad del Pacífico); Graduate Certificate in Latin American Studies, MA (Economics) and PhD (Economics) at University of Pittsburgh. Her fields of expertise include ageing, macroeconomics, pensions, and social protection. She has authored five books, co-edited two volumes on social protection, and published articles in professional journals and as book chapters. Cruz Saco serves on editorial boards, as consultant for several organizations and official institutions, and has held senior administrator positions at Peru´s development bank COFIDE, Connecticut College and Wesleyan University. She was a Fulbright Scholar (2007, 2015), past recipient of the Lenore Tingle Chair in Economics at Connecticut College, past-president of the New England Council on Latin American Studies, and chair of La Latina Network of the Hispanic Alliance of Southeastern Connectitut.

Florencia Quesada is Associate Professor and Docent in Latin American Studies at the Department of Cultures, University of Helsinki. Trained as a historian her research interests include urban cultural history, sustainable tourism, violence and urban segregation. She is affiliated as a researcher with Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS), Helsinki Inequality Initiative (INEQ) and Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies (Urbaria). Formerly, she was a research fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies (HCAS, UH) (2016-2019) and university researcher at Global Development Studies, UH in the Academy of Finland funded project FCITIES: Societal security, environmental vulnerability and redistributive justice in fragile cities of the global South. She has carried out primary research in Guatemala, Honduras, and Costa Rica, and in archives in France, Spain, and the United States. Quesada has published on Central American urban cultural history, planning and sustainable tourism, and violence and environmental risks in precarious settlements in Guatemala. Her book about the urban modernization in San José, Costa Rica received the 2011 Cleto González Víquez Award from the Academy of Geography and History of Costa Rica. Currently, she is writing a new monograph about the urban and cultural transformation of Guatemala City between 1880 and 1930.

Silvia Borzutzky is Teaching Professor of Political Science and International Relations at Carnegie Mellon University’ Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy. She has written extensively on social security and human rights policies in Chile, as well as Chilean politics. She is the author, co-author and co-editor of six books. She is the author of "Human Rights Policies in Chile: The Unfinished Struggle for Truth and Justice" (Palgrave, 2017) and "Vital Connections: Politics, Social Security and Inequality in Chile" (Notre Dame University Press, 2002). She is the co-author of "Rent-Seeking in Pensions" (Palgrave, 2016) and "Michelle Bachelet: Una Mujer Política" (Editorial USACH, 2019). She is also the co-editor of "After Pinochet: The Chilean Road to Capitalism and Democracy" (University Press of Florida, 2006), and "The Bachelet Government: Conflict and Consensus in Post-Pinochet Chile" (University of Florida Press, 2010). She is also the author of over 50 articles dealing with Chilean politics, social security and social assistance. Borzutzky is a member of the editorial board of several national and international social policy journals and teaches courses in the areas of international relations, comparative politics, social policy and human rights. She has received numerous Teaching Awards including the Martcia T. Wade Award from the H. John Heinz College of Information Systems and Public Policy in 2012.

Discussants: Professor Anja Nygren (UH, Global Development Studies) & Grant-funded researcher Heidi Härkönen (UH, Social and Cultural Athropology & Gender Studies)

May 19: Postdoctoral Researcher Tuuli Kurki [CANCELLED]

[POSTPONED! We are looking for a new time slot for Autumn 2022.]

Racism, Mental Health and Young People of Colour  

Postdoctoral Researcher Tuuli Kurki (UH), Sociology

My talk will be structured around an ongoing research project “Racism, Mental Health and Young People of Colour” (Academy of Finland, 2020-2023). In the presentation I will discuss how mental health care today is built on the foundations of racism and colonialism; how whiteness dominates, and systemic racism governs mental health services; and how young people of colour (and professionals working with them) respond to the (lack of) support and care provided and perceived in spaces of whiteness. These questions are answered by bringing examples from my multi-sited ethnographic study drifting in schools, youth centres and the third sector associations and charities in the Helsinki metropolitan area and the Greater London, as well as the virtual spaces of youth mental health support.  

Tuuli Kurki is Postdoctoral Researcher and the Principal Investigator of the research project Racism, Mental Health and Young People of Colour – Academy of Finland funded research project (2020-2023) at the Centre for Research on Ethnic Relations and Nationalism (CEREN) in the Swedish School of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. During the academic year 2021-22, she acts as a visiting scholar at the Thomas Coram Research Unit (TCRU), IOE, UCL’s Faculty of Education and Society. Her research interests include racism and antiracism in education, social services, and health care.

Discussant(s): Professor Katja Joronen (University of Turku, Nursing Science) and Research Manager Shadia Rask (THL)