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

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.

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 researcher Marian Tumanyan from the University of Oulu. Artistic and creative work is done together with schools in Northern Finland and in collaboration with  visual/communal artist Anna Koivukangas and media producer Sami Hänninen from the Culture Power Station in Oulu, Finland.

The research project collaborates with international experts Professor Carol A. Taylor, University of Bath, UK; Professor Dorte Marie Sondegaard, 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.

Project coordinator

University of Oulu

Project results

Recent publications

Tumanyan, M., & Huuki, T. (2020). Arts in working with youth on sensitive topics: A qualitative systematic review. International Journal of education through art16(3), 381-397.

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 Methodology10(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. 


Tuija Huuki

Tuija Huuki

PhD, Academy research fellow
Suvi Pihkala

Suvi Pihkala

PhD, postdoctoral researcher

Helena Louhela

Postdoctoral researcher
Marian Tumanyan

Marian Tumanyan

Doctoral Researcher

Eveliina Puutio

Doctoral researcher
Päivi Jokinen

Päivi Jokinen

PhD Researcher