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Mikko Joronen’s research group receives substantial ERC grant to study dwelling with crises

Published on 31.1.2023
Tampere University
Senior Research Fellow Mikko Joronen (Photo: Jonne Renvall/Tampere University).
Senior Research Fellow Mikko Joronen from Tampere University has received a significant research grant from the European Research Council (ERC). The Consolidator Grant of nearly €2 million will start a five-year research project that examines living in crises areas surrounded by chronic violence.

The Dwelling with Crises project will elaborate ways of making home among those dwelling in societies that are facing protracted crises.

The European Research Council is the premier European funding agency for excellent frontier research.

“ERC funding is important for strengthening our research team. It allows us to work with the team in the best possible research environment. Above all, we will go on to implement new research ideas,” says Joronen.

The Dwelling with Crises project will look at making a home in spaces that are familiar to people but also repelling, incapacitating, and altogether negating in nature. The study focuses on the ongoing crises in Lebanon, the West Bank and Gaza, caused by economic collapse, lack of infrastructure and prolonged violence.

The researchers will consider the question of what it means to stay, and make a home, in spaces that constantly expose life to disruptions, incapacitation, and material negations. How does one dwell in a crisis?

“Many people stay living in areas that are in the middle of protracted conflicts. We are talking about people whose lives are characterised by insecurity and the constant presence of the possibility of violence,” Joronen explains.

Research shakes up established concepts and renews methodology

According to Joronen, the research group will conduct basic research that includes periods of empirical field study. Even though the research concentrates on the Middle East, Russian aggression in Ukraine makes the knowledge relevant for Europe.

The study will generate empirical knowledge about what it takes to dwell in crisis and conflict areas and with the political conditions they establish. Finally, it will move beyond empiricism to broader questions about research methods.

ERC project funding is also conditional on a reform of research methodology. Methodologically, Joronen’s group will take negativity as a novel tool.

“Through the exclusion of the home, the construction of the home is also constituted. We focus on the fact that people do live and try to build their daily lives in discontinuity,” Joronen points out.

The research is intended to influence paradigmatic notions of affect, materiality, and politics.

“Relationality means that we are connected to things. But what if we started from discontinuity? How are things defined when people live in a state of constant harassment and exclusion?” Joronen asks.

“Theoretical starting points have often been developed in Western contexts and they have long scientific traditions. We are trying to decolonise concepts. We will bring the concepts into people’s everyday lives and see what that does to conceptual constructs,” he explains.

The research will involve local NGOs, whose activities the researchers will look at, but also participate in collecting research data. According to Joronen, this will build an organic research platform and give people a meaningful reason to be involved in the research. The collaboration of locals also ensures ethical research.

The funding will be used to build a seven-person research team, which will include Joronen as the leader, post-doctoral researchers, and a doctoral researcher.

Read about research excellence at Tampere University

ERC Press release: European Research Council awards €657m in grants to researchers across Europe

ERC Consolidator Grant funding in 2022  

  • The European Research Council granted 321 Consolidator Grants totalling €657 million to research projects that tackle ambitious scientific questions.
  • Consolidator Grants support mid-career researchers and help them to strengthen their research groups.
  • 2,222 researchers participated in this round of applications of whom some 14% received funding.
  • The funding was granted from the Horizon Europe programme.