Fostering Intra-activist Research in and around Education (FIRE)

FIRE research collective focuses on feminist new materialist responsible research and praxis for equal and ethically sustainable relationality in children's everyday lives and peer cultures. It is a transdisciplinary team of researchers that collaborates closely with artists, media producer, NGOs, educators, and children to explore and address gendered and sexual injustices in and around education.

Contact information

Research group leader

Research group description

FIRE research collective focuses on fostering safe, equal, and inclusive peer and relationship cultures with and for children and young people. Based in gender studies at the University of Oulu, our research explores how gender, sexuality and power operate in children’s peer and emerging romantic relationship cultures. At the core of our research is the aim to understand and develop ethically sustainable methods and methodologies for investigating, addressing, and effecting processes of change to counter gendered and sexual injustices in and around education.

The group draws on range of emerging feminist posthuman and new materialist theorizations of gender, sexuality, and power in close contiguity with related postcolonial, queer, and indigenous theories. Inspired be these theoretical and methodological starting points, our research team employs and experiments with creative, arts-based, and activist methodologies to conduct socially engaged, responsible and ethically sustainable research. Since the latter half of 2010s, the research collective has carried out co-productive arts-based interventions, workshops, and campaigns with children on the themes of gender, sexuality, and power. The group is actively engaged in developing knowledge to inform educational policies and methods to advance sexuality and relationship education.

Creative and activist praxis

FIRE research collective collaborates closely with children and young people, artists and media producer, schools, educators and NGO’s. Examples from our creative praxis, co-produced artworks, materials and methods are showcased at the FIRE research collective website

Core team

  • Tuija Huuki, Dr., Adj. Prof., senior research fellow, University of Oulu
  • Suvi Pihkala, Dr., postdoctoral researcher, University of Oulu
  • Eveliina Puutio, MEd., doctoral researcher, University of Oulu
  • Satu Suvanto, doctoral researcher, University of Oulu
  • Anu Uusikylä, doctoral researcher, University of Oulu
  • Eeva-Maria Korhonen, doctoral researcher, University of Oulu

International collaborations

The research team collaborates with international experts


Past projects

  • Gender-based violence in pre-teen relationship cultures: How history, place, affect and arts interventions matter 2016–2021. The Academy of Finland, Academy research fellow grant, PI Tuija Huuki
  • Gender Equity, Conflict and Power among Young Children 2012–2016. The Academy of Finland, Postdoctoral research grant, PI Tuija Huuki
  • ALLiES - developing teachers’ and parents’ alliance for early violence prevention in pre-school 2010–2012. EC Daphne, PI Tuija Huuki

Key outputs

Key outputs


  • Pihkala, S.; Puutio, E.; Louhela, H. & Huuki, T. (forthcoming). Friendship workshops: Feminist arts-based intra-activist methodology for addressing gender and power in pre-teen peer cultures. In New materialist affirmations: Creative research interventions in methods and practice. A Hickey-Moody, G Coombs, M Willcox and S Pihkala (Eds.). Edinburgh University Press.
  • Pihkala S & Karasti H (2024/fothcoming). Mapping reflexive engagement and response-ability for STS. In Ethical and methodological dilemmas in social science interventions - careful engagements in healthcare, museums, design and beyond. . D Lydahl and NC Nickelsen (eds.) Springer.
  • Puutio, E.; Pihkala, S.; Lehtonen J. & Huuki, T. (2023, forthcoming) School, online communities, and creative workshops as spaces for non-normative pre-teen gendered and sexual cultures. YOUNG.
  • Pihkala S & Huuki T (2023) Duct-taped X: Gender and the ‘ethically enabling conditions’ of creative-activism on pre-teen peer cultures. Journal of Gender Studies.


  • Puutio, E., Huuki, T., & Pihkala, S. (2022). Mundane matters: Mapping the becomings of heterosexual girlhood in the emerging sexual cultures of elementary school children. Sexualities, 0(0).
  • Pihkala, S.; Puutio E.; Louhela, H. & Huuki, T. (2022). Taidelähtöinen tutkimusaktivismi seksuaalisen häirinnän käsittelemiseksi varhaisnuorten kanssa. [Arts-based research-activism for addresing sexual harassment with pre-teen children] In Intersektionaalinen feministinen pedagogiikka [Intersectional feminist pedagogy]. Vastapaino.
  • 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).
  • Pihkala, S. & Karasti, H. (2022). Towards Response-able PD: Putting Feminist New Materialisms to Work in the Practices of Participatory Design. In Proceedings of the Participatory Design Conference 2022 - Volume 1 (PDC '22). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 98–108.
  • Pihkala, S. & Huuki, T. (2022). Safe and enabling: composing ethically sustainable crafty-activist research on gender and power in young peer cultures, International Journal of Social Research Methodology,


  • 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.
  • 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. (2021). Taidelähtöiset menetelmät ja queerit tyttökietoumat alakouluikäisten suhdekulttuureissa [Arts-based methods and girl-queer-entanglements in pre-teen relationship cultures] Nuorisotutkimus, 38(3), 58–74. 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 [Cards, tears and fiddling – Opening and closing spaces for pupil’s engagement at primary school development discussion]. Kasvatus & Aika, 15(1), 4–21.
    English version from the authors by request.


  • Heikkinen, M., Pihkala, S., Pääsky, L. & Harmoinen, S. (2020). Intersectional gender-responsibility in STEM: co-creating sustainable arctic knowledge production. Arctic yearbook 2020, 175–188.
  • Louhela, H. (2020). Seksuaalinen väkivalta moniulotteisesti elämässään haavoittuneiden tyttöjen kertomana ja vaikenemana (Lektio). Sukupuolentutkimus-Genusforskning, 33(1), 66–70.
  • Puutio, E., Tumanyan, M., Louhela, H., Pihkala, S. & Huuki T. (2020). Taidelähtöiset menetelmät ja tutkimusaktivismi seksuaalisen häirinnän käsittelemiseksi alakouluikäisten vertaissuhteissa. Sukupuolentutkimus-Genusforskning, 33(4), 60–63.
  • 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.


  • Huuki, T. (2018). Pojat ja (väki)valta kolmen metodologisen kehyksen näkökulmasta [Boys and (abuse of) power from the perspective of three methodological frameworks] In Kivijärvi, A. Huuki, T. & Lunabba, H. (eds.) Poikatutkimus [Boyhood studies]. Vastapaino & Nuorisotutkimusseura/Nuorisotutkimusverkosto, julkaisuja 205, 175–196.
  • Kivijärvi, A., Huuki, T. & Lunabba, H. (Eds. 2018). Poikatutkimus. [Boyhood studies]. Vastapaino & Nuorisotutkimusseura/Nuorisotutkimusverkosto, julkaisuja 205.
  • Pihkala, S. (2018). Touchable matters: Reconfiguring sustainable change through participatory design, education, and everyday engagement for non-violence (Doctoral dissertation). University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland.
  • Pihkala, S. & Karasti, H. (2018). Politics of mattering in the practices of participatory design. Proceedings of the 15th Participatory Design Conference on Short Papers, Situated Actions, Workshops and Tutorial – PDC ’18.
  • Pihkala, S., Huuki, T., Heikkinen, M. & Sunnari, V. (2018). Reconfigurings of non-violence as a matter of sustainability and response-ability. NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research, 26(3), 167–181.
  • Parkkila (currently Louhela), H. & Heikkinen, M. (2018). Vulnerable bodily integrity: Under-recognised sexual violence among girls in residential care institutions. Journal of Gender-Based Violence, 2(1), 25–40.


  • Lanas, M. & Huuki, T. (2017). Thinking beyond student resistance: a difficult assemblage in teacher education. European journal of teacher education 40(4), 436–446.
  • Pihkala, S., Huuki, T., Heikkinen, M. & Sunnari, V. (2017). Re-thinking and un/entangling non-violence with response-ability. In V. Kinnunen & A. Valtonen (Eds.), Living ethics in a more-than-human world (pp. 46-55). Rovaniemi: Lapin yliopisto.