Workshop "How to speak about the unspeakable in research?" 18.-20.9.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

University of Oulu Graduate School arranges a course of topics which are sensitive or in other ways difficult to study. Morning lectures and keynote sessions are open to everyone interested.

Venue: LeaF, Oulun yliopisto, Linnanmaa campus


Day 1. Cultural interpretation, translation and expertise

(How to study in multilingual and multicultural official environments)

9:00-9:10 Opening words by Prof. Hannu I. Heikkinen, Cultural anthropology (Univ. of Oulu)

9:10-9:30 Ethics code work for Arctic Research, Prof. Arja Rautio (Univ. of Arctic)

9:30-10:30 Keynote: Research ethics in conventional and unconventional fieldwork settings, Prof. Livia Holden, Legal anthropology (Univ. of Padua / Oxford)

10:30-11:00 Discussion


Day 2. Politics on ecology and multispecies ethnography

(How to study topics where human culture is interwoven with the lifeworld of other species)

9:15-9:30 Opening words by Adjunct prof. Pauliina Rautio, Education (Univ. of Oulu)

9:30-10:30 Keynote: Playing Ventriloquist: Speaking with/for Others in Multispecies Worlds, Prof. S. Eben Kirksey, Anthropology (Deakin Univ., Melbourne)

10:30-11:00 Discussion


            Day 3. Sensitive and difficult research topics

            9:00-9:10 Opening words by Prof. Vesa Puuronen (Univ. of Oulu)

            9:10-9:40 Prof. Vesa Puuronen, Sociology (Univ. of Oulu), Reformatories as sensitive research areas

            9:40-10:10 Prof. Vesa-Pekka Herva, Archaeology (Univ. of Oulu), Dark heritage and dark tourism

           10:10-10:40 Dr. Johanna Ylipulli, Centre for Ubiquitous Computing (Univ. of Oulu), Gender and gadgets – too shy
           to try?

           10:40-11:15 Discussion

The graduate course focuses on research topics in human sciences which are sensitive or in other ways difficult to study due to reasons relating to communication, interpretation, or ethics. The course zooms in on a key methodological problem many of us face in our work: how to study something that is, in one way or another, difficult to speak about, even unspeakable? Topics that can be described as difficult and sensitive are typical when studying for example refugees, criminality, sexuality, racism, radically different worldviews, children, or nonhuman animals. In these and many other cases, cultural and linguistic differences between the researchers and the participants pose a critical challenge that calls for novel approaches. The lack of a common language or explicit concepts and differences in actual and narrated behavior are likewise frequent problems, as is the limited ability of human language to capture, for instance, powerful traumatic or spiritual experiences and interspecies communication. In addition, current research ethics debates have contested many traditional methods, such as participant observation in sociocultural anthropology. Whether and how researchers get access to studying difficult issues is an exciting question per se. Throughout “How to Speak about the Unspeakable in Research,” the participants will discuss and interrogate these themes among a broad range of research fields and topics within human sciences.

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Last updated: 13.9.2017