Mervi Kaukko

Associate Professor (tenure track), Project manager of Relational Wellbeing in the Lives of Young Refugees-project
Faculty of Education and Culture
| Sub unit: Education
Mervi Kaukko

About me

My current research has three primary areas: migration and refugee research, intercultural education and practice theories/praxis.

Migration/refugee research, especially in relation to childhood and education (Kaukko & Wilkinson 2018; Wilkinson & Kaukko 2019; Kohli & Kaukko 2017; Millei, Korkiamäki & Kaukko 2019), has been my main interest since the beginning of my PhD. Currently my main agenda in this field is to understand refugee students’ educational success and school wellbeing. I believe that while certain circumstances and processes can make refugee children vulnerable and struggle in school, the relationship between difficult experiences and consequent problems is correlational rather than causal (Kaukko & Wilkinson 2018). I want to understand how, despite a fragmented educational history and exile-related stressors, many refugee children succeed in schools, and what kind of educational practices they have found helpful in their learning.

The second theme is ethical praxis in intercultural education. Ethical praxis in intercultural settings requires teachers to critically reflect their work beyond their immediate teaching practice and think, what is good for the individual learners now and in the long run (regardless of where they will be), and what kind of practices resonate with the lifeworlds of the child, (regardless of how distant they are from the world of the teacher). In my ongoing research, I explore this with Finnish and Australian teachers and educational leaders working with refugee students.

My third, mainly theoretical research interest is closely linked to the other two. I frame my current research within practice theories, especially within the theory of practice architectures (Kemmis, Wilkinson, Edwards-Groves, Hardy & Bristol 2014). This theoretical approach conjoins the individual and the societalapproaches, and the ways in which experiences and the site-specific (educational) practices are nested with one another: how the everyday reality (of students, teachers, educational leaders, to take school as an example) is composed in socio-material realities (of schools) and, especially, shaped by the cultural-discursive, material-economic and social-political arrangements among which the practices are enacted (Kemmis et al 2014).

I came to Tampere in 2019 to join the Institute for Advanced Social Research (IASR) after three years at Monash University, Australia. Before that, I was a lecturer (Global Education) at University of Oulu, Finland.  


I am Associate Professor (Multicultural Education) at Faculty of Education and Culture and the Project Manager for NordForsk-funded project Relational Wellbeing in the Lives of Young Refugees in Finland, Norway and the UK (2020-2024).