Project Leader: Élise Féron
This research stream brings together TAPRI researchers interested in the conceptual, methodological and empirical challenges raised by the diversity of contemporary migration and floating political borders. What happens if a national territory hosts multiple populations, or at least populations which may carry multiple allegiances, and thus express multiple and often competing concerns and expectations? How can we transcend methodological nationalism and invent sound and consistent approaches to study groups whose existence is shaped by transnationalism?
The research stream functions as an enabling structure facilitating exchanges between researchers sharing similar research interests. One of the specific axes of research currently developed by the research stream is the study of the perceptions of security and insecurity of migrants, refugees and diaspora groups in Finland, and of the factors affecting those perceptions. From the threat of international terrorism to the threat to indigenous cultural cohesion and traditions, along with the perceived threat of migrant workers reducing employment opportunities for native workers in an age of austerity, migrant, refugee and diaspora groups have been targets of security policies and securitized politically, culturally and psychologically. Their own perceptions of security, however, have been considerably less scrutinized. How do these differ (or are similar to) those of the majority population? What triggers a heightened feeling of insecurity among migrant and diaspora groups? Security policies in the countries of residence? Situation in the country of origin? Or more personal factors such as socio-economic situation, age or gender? And how do these perceptions affect these groups’ capacity to integrate in societies of settlement? These questions warrant an investigation which is all the more urgent in view of the heightened attention surrounding refugee, migrant and diaspora communities and the extent to which they are regarded as being a political, cultural, economic or religious threat to the stability of the host society.
Another research axis concerns ethnically mixed borderland communities caught in a trap of competing national narratives spread from the surrounding states. Living on the “edge” of zone where political interests of states intersect, they intentionally and unintentionally resist the set of norms, rules and conditions imposed by securitization policies of border control. In the situation where communal interaction in borderland region is continually affected by the policies of neighboring and hosting states, the borderlanders may tend to create and alternate their own national narratives in order to ignore the inter-state conflict of political interests and focus on the hundred other things they need in their daily lives. This collective interpretation of social reality allows the borderland communities to construct a creative common strategy of conflict avoidance for the sake of their well-being. To delineate this strategy of behavior that the borderlanders develop to avoid inter-communal conflicts, it is necessary to indicate differences between their national narratives and the ones promoted by rhetoric acts and discourses of politicians, experts and media from the surrounding states. Studying the ways by which borderland populations are able to get the conflict past contribute to comprehending how to prevent penetration of international conflicts into the entire society of the state of their residence and this issue is highly topical due to the transnational nature of contemporary conflicts that increasingly challenges border and state organizations across the globe.
A third research axis focuses on developing methodological tools to better understand conflict generated diasporas. The study of these groups has classically revolved around the question of the transposition of communal fractures (either ethnic, sectarian, religious, or tribal) from the society of origins to the country of adoption. Moving away from such essentialism, TAPRI’s research advocates a micro-sociological approach, taking individuals and small groups as a starting point. The intention is to re-examine the social forces at play among conflict generated diasporas from the perspective of a limited numbers of personal cases to ultimately illuminate if and how communalities eventually resurface and under which forms. In doing so, issues of sectarianism, ethnicity, or tribalism are not the starting point but the conclusion of the analysis, hence avoiding teleological knowledge.
Élise Féron (Conflict-generated diasporas)
Bruno Lefort (Diasporic youth from post-conflict societies)
Vadim Romashov (National narratives of borderland communities and conflict prevention)
Benedikt Schoenborn (Perceptions of security among Germans resident in Finland)
tel. +358 (0)50 318 7631
Tampere Peace Research Institute,
Kalevantie 5, Tampere
FI-33014 University of Tampere (Finland)
Visiting address: Linna building, 6th floor, room 6070