The research project EDIT aims at strengthening societal capacity to enhance gender equality and thereby democracy and human rights. It does so by examining and supporting scholarship and teaching on gender in selected universities in Ethiopia and South Africa to develop academic research and teaching towards a more societally relevant and contextually attuned practice. Epistemic negotiations in/by feminist epistemic communities can teach lessons on how transformation processes towards equality can be enabled and strengthened, what their dimensions are and what obstacles must be attended to. Most importantly, universities can be key drivers of societal change but this promise is here under investigation, rather than assumed.
The overall EDIT project not only contributes to an increased academic knowledge production on local circumstances and transformatory practices on gender relations, but a better contextualization of knowledge production, including a documentation of the activism-art-academia axis, and an exploration into what an increased societal relevance of academic work might mean. Furthermore, the project suggests that while there is ample research on resistance it is seldom examined as an avenue to understand local circumstances and thus seen as a positive force in transformation.
The partners, University of Helsinki, Finland, Addis Ababa University (AAU) in Ethiopia and the University of Witwatersrand (Wits) in South Africa are selected based on their record of excellence in feminist scholarship and societal dialogue, and thereby work as case studies for a phenomenon-driven and problem based research on key factors behind poverty, inequality and violence: unequal gender relations and societal obstacles hampering change.
The project was granted €600.000 funding by the Academy of Finland’s Programme for Development Research for the period 1.1.2019 - 31.12.2022.
The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland supports the project with 400 000 euros.
The project examines Finnish-Swedishness as a process of identity-creating boundaries and openings that are revealed with particular clarity in close relationships with new “others”. In five sub-projects, the researchers study how Finnish-Swedishness is created and what meanings Finnish-Swedishness is given in meetings with immigrants, in alternative queer activism and in collaborative projects in Africa. Through Finnish-Swedishness, the project seeks generalizable approaches for future research on identity and difference where practices of solidarity rather than exclusion are in focus.
In the sub-project on immigration, PD Liu Xin examines meetings with the Finnish-Swedishness in Ostrobothnia and in the Helsinki region. This sub-project studies, among other things, the concepts of disidentification and emerging, changing relationality. In the sub-project on alternative queer activism, the doctoral student, MA Ali Ali, examines expressions of solidarity between collectives that identify themselves as different types of privileged and vulnerable minorities, for example regarding sexuality. In the third subproject, Professor Elina Oinas examines the creation of meaning for the specifically Finnish-Swedishness in globally oriented Finnish-Swedish associations that are active in projects in Africa. In 2021 Otso Harju and Saga Rosenström will join the project with their sub-projects; Harju on feminist activism, Rosenström on history and group based identifications in the past.
The project conducted at the Swedish School of Social Science at the University of Helsinki.
Professor Elina Oinas, project leader
PD Liu Xin
MA Ali Ali
MA Otso harju
MA Saga Rosenström