Mapping, Making & Mattering: Arts and Research-Activism for Addressing Sexual Harassment in Pre-Teen Peer Cultures

Mapping, making & mattering: Arts and research-activism for addressing sexual harassment in pre-teen peer cultures (2019-2023) brings together arts-based, research activist and feminist new materialist and posthuman methodologies to investigate and address gender and sexual abuses of power and to co-create possibilities for ethically sustainable change in the peer cultures of pre-teen children.



Project information

Project duration


Funded by

Academy of Finland - Academy Project

Project coordinator

University of Oulu

Contact information

Project leader

  • Senior Research Fellow
    Tuija Huuki

Other persons

  • Postdoctoral Researcher
    Suvi Pihkala
  • Postdoctoral researcher
    Helena Louhela
  • Doctoral Student
    Eveliina Puutio

Project description

The Academy of Finland funded gender studies research project Mapping, making & mattering: Arts and research-activism for addressing sexual harassment in pre-teen peer cultures (2019-2023) will bring together arts-based, research activist and feminist new materialist and posthuman methodologies to investigate and address gender and sexual abuses of powerand to co-create possibilities for ethically sustainable change in the peer cultures of pre-teen children.

There is an urgent need for the research. During the past years – particularly since the global MeToo movement – gender and sexual harassment has been brought to renewed public attention. This attention has, however, been mostly blind to the ways gender and sexual harassment affects not only adults, but how it also permeates children’s peer cultures as normalized and silenced gendered and sexual abuses of power. Acknowledging this gap, Mapping, making and mattering seeks to explore and address harassment with children in the as-of-yet much ignored pre-teen ages. Moving beyond methods ‘locked’ into reproducing a predefined understanding of what gender and sexual harassment is and how it should be addressed, the project invests in exploring how else could difficult, sensitive and unaddressed experiences such as harassment be explored and communicated with and by children, and how else could research with children be made to matter to bring about change.

In collaboration with ‘multi-agency assemblages' of artists, scholars, teachers and children, the research team will co-compose arts-based workshops for addressing and communicating experiences of sexual harassment. A children’s conference will be organized where those experiences will then continue to be shared, sensed and felt by other children, teachers, academics and decision makers so as to potentially effect processes of change. The research will be reported for both academic and public audiences through articles, policy briefings and multimedia presentations showcasing the children’s expressions and experiences related to gendered and sexual harassment in their peer cultures.

Project actions

Learn about project's creative and pedagogical praxis at

Project results


Pihkala, S & Huuki, T (2022). Safe and enabling: ethically sustainable crafty-activist research on gender and power with pre-teen children. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education.

Huuki T & Kyrölä K (2022) “Show yourself”: Indigenous Ethics and Decolonial Gender Pedagogies of Frozen 2. In T. Huuki, V. Pacini-Ketchabaw & T. Bunda (Eds) Special Issue: Indigenous Cosmologies. Gender and Education 35(1)


Huuki, T., Pihkala, S, Kyrölä, K (2021) What else crush became: Working with arts-methods to address experiences of sexual harassment in pre-teen girls’ relationship cultures. Gender and Education.

Huuki, T. (2021) Taidelähtöiset menetelmät ja poikatutkimuksen herkkätuntoiset aihepiirit. [Arts-based methods and sensitive topics of boyhood studies] Maskuliinisuuksien metodologiaa. [Methodologies in masculinity studies] Eds. Nieminen, J., Aho, T. & Salo, A. Vastapaino, 161–186. English version from the author by request.

Kyrölä, K. & Huuki, T. (2021) Desperately seeking a queer indigenous past: Affective traces of queer Sámi in Sparrooabbán (Me and My Little Sister, 2016) Journal of Cinema and Media Studies 60(5), 75–98. Available online.

Louhela, H. (2021). "I was fully consenting"—sexual violence voiced by an adolescent girl. Journal of Gender-Based Violence, 5(1), 7-21.

Puutio, E., Huuki, T., Pihkala, S & Lehmusniemi, A (in press 2021). Taidelähtöiset menetelmät ja queerit tyttökietoumat alakouluikäisten suhdekulttuureissa [Arts-based methods and girl-queer-entanglements in pre-teen relationship cultures] Nuorisotutkimus 38(3) [Journal of Youth Studies]. English version from the authors by request.

Uusikylä, A., Haapakangas, S. & Huuki, T (2021) Kortteja, kyyneleitä ja näpräämistä –Oppilaan osallisuudelle avautuvia ja sulkeutuvia tiloja alakoulun kehityskeskustelussa. Kasvatus & Aika 4–21. [Cards, tears and fiddling – Opening and closing spaces for pupil’s engagement at primary school development discussion. Education and Time 4-21]. English version from the authors by request.


Louhela, H. (2020). Seksuaalinen väkivalta moniulotteisesti elämässään haavoittuneiden tyttöjen kertomana ja vaikenemana (Lektio). Sukupuolentutkimuslehti, 01/2020.  

Puutio, E., Tumanyan, M., Louhela, H., Pihkala, S. & Huuki T. (2020). Taidelähtöiset menetelmät ja tutkimusaktivismi seksuaalisen häirinnän käsittelemiseksi alakouluikäisten vertaissuhteissa. Sukupuolentutkimuslehti, 04/2020.

Renold, E, Edwards, V. & Huuki T. (2020) Becoming eventful: making the ‘more-than’ of a youth activist conference matter, in A. Harris and S. Holman Jones (eds) special issue: ‘A capacity to be moved: performance and its affects’. Research in Drama and Education: Journal of applied theatre and performance 25(3), 441–464. 

Tumanyan, M., & Huuki, T. (2020). Arts in working with youth on sensitive topics: A qualitative systematic review. International Journal of education through art, 16(3), 381-397.


Huuki, T. (2019) Collaging the virtual: Exploring gender materialisations in the artwork of pre-teen children. Childhood, 26 (4), 430-447.

Huuki, T. (2019). Friendship and Peer Cultures in Childhood (Finland). Bloomsbury Education and Childhood Studies. London: Bloomsbury. Retrieved January 30, 2020,

Huuki, T., & Kurkikangas, A. (2019). Sexuality and Sexualization in Childhood (Finland). Bloomsbury Education and Childhood Studies. London: Bloomsbury. Retrieved January 30, 2020, from

Huuki T. & Lanas M (2019) Sámi child-adult/past-present entanglements in a painful lecture in university. In Rautio, P. & Stenvall, E. (Eds.) Social, Material and Political Constructs of Arctic Childhoods: An Everyday Life Perspective. Singapore: Springer Nature, 139–153.

Louhela, H. (2019). Sexual violence: Voiced and silenced by girls with multiple vulnerabilities. Doctoral Dissertation. University of Oulu.

Pihkala, S., & Huuki, T. (2019). How A Hashtag Matters – Crafting Response(-Abilities) through Research-Activism on Sexual Harassment in Pre-Teen Peer Cultures. Reconceptualizing Educational Research Methodology, 10(2-3), 242-258. 

Pihkala, S; Huuki, T. & Sunnari, V. (2019) Moving with Touch: Entanglements of a Child, Valentine’s Day Cards and Research-Activism against Sexual Harassment in Pre-Teen Peer Cultures. Article in the Special Issue Feminist new materialisms: Activating ethico-politics through genealogies in social sciences) Social sciences 8, 226. Open Access. 

Research team and collaboration

The research project, led by Adjunct Professor Tuija Huuki, continues the long-term research on gender and power in young peer cultures in the Gender studies research group at the University of Oulu and brings together international and national expertise to co-constitute significant feminist new materialist research environment in gender responsible educational research around gender and sexual harassment in Finland.

The core members of the research team are postdoctoral researchers Suvi Pihkala and Helena Louhela and doctoral researchers Eveliina Puutio and Marian Tumanyan from the University of Oulu. Artistic and creative work is done together with schools in Northern Finland and in collaboration with media producer Sami Hänninen from the Culture Power Station in Oulu, Finland and other artists.

The research project collaborates with international experts Professor Carol A. Taylor, University of Bath, UK; Professor Dorte Marie Sondergaard, Århus University, DK; Professor Anna Hickey-Moody, RMIT University, AU; Professor EJ Renold, Cardiff University, UK. The project is strengthened by national experts Adjunct Professor Taru Leppänen, Professor Katve-Kaisa Kontturi and Dr. Milla Tiainen, from University of Turku, Finland, as well as with local experts Docent Vappu Sunnari, Professor Vesa Puuronen, Adjunct Professor Kaisa Vehkalahti and Adjunct Professor Maija Lanas from the University of Oulu.