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Department of Social Anthropology


 Anna-Riikka Kauppinen)

This research cluster focuses on political praxis at a moment where the world is undergoing unprecedented crises on virtually every front: economic, ecological, and humanitarian. What defines access, membership, and participation in different collectives? How are institutions created, and how do institutions create subjectivities? What is the meaning of power, and related terms such as authority, equality, and exclusion? In brief, how do people across the world understand ‘politics’? Arising from long histories of imperial and colonial expropriation, the meanings of ‘power’ and ‘politics’ are freshly at stake at so many levels and scales: national but also transnational; local, forest and city-based; transhuman, networked or distributed; defined on the basis of territory, rights or in ways that surpass any of these. This cluster also offers a space for investigating the processes and meanings of social change, alternations and political transition and the ways history and violence sediment in memory and subjectivity.


Research undertaken under this cluster includes work on:

- political imaginaries and prefigurative politics in distinct sectors and fields of action (labour movements, indigeneity, environmentalist activism) 

- political subjectivities and their transformations, including ethico-political projects: scalability of care, kinship, politics of love, and mutuality

- citizenship and the articulation of membership, racialisation, exclusion, participation (locally and transnationally), and the moral, techno-scientific and legal regimes that sustain identity/alterity claims

- humanitarianism, human rights, freedom, and moral obligation explored both in their vernacular forms and as entangled with the histories of colonialism and imperialism

- the politics of borders, migration and asylum, identity categories, opacity/legibility projects, and political violence

- ethnographies of liberalism

- practices of sovereignty as they are embedded in and shape Indigenous politics, and responses to Indigenous politics; one aspect of which is state formation, relations between Indigenous autonomous politics and settler states

- political forms, electoral politics and systemic change (the crisis of democracy, non-western democracies, clientelistic and aristocratic systems, authoritarian regimes, far-right movements)

- technologies of power, platform capitalism, datafication, governance and abuse of power

- corruption, popular critiques of authority, and political cynicism

- catastrophe, disasters, crises and resurgences, including genocide (and its aftermath), postwar environments and post-conflict reconstruction and environmental emergencies

- organisational life, from bureaucracy and administration as techniques of power to memory work, archives and other documentary practices, and day to day practices of egalitarianism and hierarchy

- the politics of speech, silencing and voice

- state-society relations, space/land and post-territorial politics

- suffering and inequalities through intersections of race, ethnicity, gender and age.