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Ioana Țîștea: Minority voices are challenging power structures and ongoing inequalities in Nordic migration research

Tampereen yliopisto
SijaintiÅkerlundinkatu 5, Tampere
Keskustakampus, Virta, auditorio 109 ja etäyhteys
Ajankohta5.4.2024 9.00–13.00
PääsymaksuMaksuton tapahtuma
Kuva: Ifeoluwa Asaolu
Recent demands for more reflection on power inequalities in research are also evident in Nordic migration studies, a field just starting to tackle societal, institutional, and epistemic racism. Migrant and minority perspectives are gaining ground in the academia, challenging the stereotypes and exclusions in mainstream migration research. In her doctoral dissertation, Ioana Țîștea explored innovative ideas that challenge universities as sole knowledge centres and advocate for inclusive research open to diverse perspectives.

The discourse of integration seems to dominate migration research and policies in a Nordic context. The assumption that migrants must adapt to the norms of the dominant society in order to be included is often taken for granted. Some recent critical research however challenges this assumption. It reveals power structures that discriminate against migrants and positions them as never integrated enough.

“I also went through the integration system when I first arrived in Finland from Romania in 2015. I went to an integration training for one year. Shortly after the training, the only job I was offered was as a cleaner. At first, I thought that’s what my PhD research should be about,” Ioana Țîștea recounts.

Yet the researcher now advocates for migration research that goes beyond the integration agenda.

“I am not arguing against critical research scrutinizing power systems such as integration systems. This research is very important because these systems are still in place and they continue to reproduce multiple inequalities based on race, class, citizenship, etc. Still, migration has been central to Europe’s social reality for so long and we are still talking about integration in Finland. It seems like even when research wants to go beyond integration, it usually ends up rethinking integration, thus reproducing the same agenda but in different terms,” Țîștea explains.

According to her, it becomes important to not only change the terms of the conversation, but to start having other conversations altogether. Such conversations have already started at the margins. In her study she brings these conversations to the forefront of knowledge production.

Bringing everyday knowledge back into migration research

There are multiple types of unequal migration experiences, based for example on citizenship, ethnicity, race, class, or the visa or residence permit regime one is subjected to. According to Țîștea’s doctoral research, these various experiences come in contact in creative and unexpected ways.

“I am interested in the contact zones between multiple unequal migrations and what these interrelations produce in terms of alternative ways of living together in possible just worlds. Yet there may be obstacles in creating convivial worlds, like ongoing inequalities that cannot be erased. There are tensions. But that is where the key lies, in how to create something new from those tensions,” Țîștea notes.

The question she asks is not how to integrate better or how to do integration differently, but how to create future worlds in which integration is not even part of the vocabulary.

“These are possible worlds in which people negotiate on ways of living together without imposing one dominant way to live. People invent new vocabularies, new ways of being, of identifying, of relating to one another. These vocabularies are not only verbal, they are multisensorial, and cannot be deciphered only with the intellect,” Țîștea continues.

Her doctoral research applies these abstract notions into concrete collaborative research practices with participants. These are based on artistic practices and everyday knowledge which is usually not considered scientific enough to be called knowledge.

“My study contributes to reinscribing previously ignored or misunderstood everyday knowledge into migration research. I do not theorize based on that knowledge, but treat it as theory in itself. I bring it into conversation with other existing theories and blur boundaries between academic and non-academic, researcher and participant, fact and fiction, science and art,” Țîștea says.

Public defence on Friday 5 April

The doctoral dissertation of MSc Ioana Țîștea in the field of education and migration studies titled Creolizing Nordic Migration Research: Entangled Knowledges, Migratisations, and Reflexivities will be publicly examined at the Faculty of Education and Culture at Tampere University at 12 o’clock on Friday 5 April 2024. The venue is Virta building, auditorium 109 (Åkerlundinkatu 5, Tampere).

The Opponent will be Professor Suvi Keskinen from the University of Helsinki. The Custos will be Professor Zsuzsa Millei from Tampere University.

The doctoral dissertation is available online.

The public defence can be followed via remote connection.