Presentation order and abstracts:
SESSION 9.1 Thursday 2.12.2021 at 13.00-15.00
Ethical and empowering research with adult migrants investing in a Finnish basic education program
Sanna Riuttanen, University of Jyväskylä
As Leinonen, Lyytinen, Tiilikainen & Kmak (2020) state, ”conducting research with forced migrants necessitates a continuous critical consideration of research ethics.” The paper I propose is based on the data gathered for my dissertation, which is longitudinal critical ethnographic study focusing on the investment (Darvin & Norton 2015) of adult refugee-background students in a basic education program in Finland. The aim is to find out why and how the students are investing in their learning, and which social, ideological or institutional factors either support or stand in the way of their education.
The data come from a rural Finnish community college that offers a two-year basic education program populated by refugee-background adults from mostly SWANA (South West Asian/North African) countries. Interviews and classroom observations are in the centre of my inquiry. Many of the students participating in my study are in a vulnerable position, being refugees or asylum seekers who have arrived in Finland recently. I aim to conduct research in both ethical and empowering ways, meaning I try to minimize the inconvenience I might cause my subjects, and also help them achieve their own goals (Cameron et al. 1992). As a young researcher doing data collection among refugee subjects, I have had to ponder many of the questions proposed as basis for this workshop. Thus, in addition to presenting my findings so far, I would like to use the presentation space to discuss some or all of the following questions in relation to my study:
How do I ensure voluntary and informed consent throughout my research process, considering the power relations in place as well linguistic and cultural differences?
What are some concrete ways in which I could involve my subjects in the research and/or writing process?
I hope my presentation sparks fruitful conversation on conducting empowering research with migrants.
From a teacher into a researcher: reflections on studying Integration Training in Finland
My PhD dissertation investigates adult migrants participating Integration Training in Finland, their Finnish language learning in the training and language use after the training. Integration Training is criticised in reports (OECD 2018; VTV 2018) for language learning results that are considered to be weak. My aim is to display participants’ heterogenous backgrounds, which are often left out from the reports.
My motivation to do this research comes from my background as a Finnish language teacher. At the moment, I’m conducting a research about people whose life situations are different from mine. I’m also doing it from former teacher’s perspective.
Research participants of my study are newly arrived, unemployed migrants. They attended Integration Training for Adult Immigrants (Kotoutumiskoulutus aikuisille maahanmuuttajille) consisting of, for example, Finnish language studies, classes about society and work life in Finland. The participants have a residence permit for Finland, and they come from diverse backgrounds, e. g. some are refugees, some asylum seekers and some have family ties in Finland. Financial allowance depends on participating in the training, so participation is usually compulsory. (Opetushallitus 2012.)
My own background as a Finn with academic training, native Finnish speaker and former teacher has affected all aspects of my research. It made the research possible, it is related to why I began to do my research in the first place and it affected my research questions. My position has also had effects on my data gathering. My interests guided me in the analysis and in the interpretation of results.
I want my research participants to have a voice, but I can’t avoid othering the migrants and constituting a migrant in my research process nevertheless (see also Kurki 2018). That means I will maintain power relations between academics and research participants. Due to these reasons, ethical reflection needs to be an integral part of my study.
3. The challenge of me as a researcher between the burden of East and the West
Maija Kalm-Akubardia, University of Helsinki
My PhD process opened my eyes for the troublesome relation between Russia and so-called western countries in academic research. In my presentation I will be discussing the challenges related to my position and overall possibilities of studying global issues in Russian context from the human rights perspective. I am underlining the burden of the East-West dichotomy in academic discussions and the way it is maintained for the use of local and global power structures. As terms, east and west are often loosely used. With east I refer to Russia and its affects in neighboring East-European countries. With west I refer mostly the European Union, but also to the United states, when it comes to the immigration question and research.
While the attention in the immigration question seems to be often pointed to the undocumented immigrants, not to the power structure maintaining and creating the inequity, with my PhD work I aim to bring light to power structures behind the phenomenon, studied through the experiences of the long-term undocumented immigrants in Moscow. The participants (15) are visible members of the society and its’ national economy, but their capabilities have been manipulated and restricted. The vulnerability arises from political, social, and economic inequity. I base my research mostly on Steven Lukes’ Three Dimensions of Power (2005) but I greatly benefit from Martha Nussbaum’s Capability Approach (2011) and studies of populism.
With a study background in Finland, in Belarus and in Latvia and with a Georgian family name, I would like to see myself positioned in a fruitful playground constructed especially for reflecting and criticizing different positions in the dichotomy of east and west Europe. In my presentation our politics go hand in hand with the academic discussion and in the end they both stumble upon questions of cultural differences and/or political sensitivity.