Workshop: Bonds of Belonging or Pathways to Hierarchies: Speech, Media and Solidarities Across Ethnic and Linguistic Boundaries

The names and contact details of the convenors: Markku Sippola, Emma Nortio, (University of Helsinki), Jaanika Kingumets (Tampere University), Liisa Tuhkanen (University College London)

A short description specifying the type of the workshop: Academic presentations

Working languages: English and Finnish

Discussions and utterances in different media channels play an important role in the shaping of intergroup relationships. For example, social media provides a space for constructing solidarities between the dominant group and ethnic/linguistic minorities, but also host hate speech against migrants and other minorities. Many studies have looked into how members of the dominant groups talk about migrants and migration on social media. Recent research also looks into the ways in which minorities themselves discuss these issues and position themselves within the larger migration debate. Gaining more nuanced knowledge on migrants’ perspectives has a potential to develop more informed and inclusive approaches to engaging migrants’ views and experiences in the making of a society, discuss problematic issues more openly and overcome boundaries between people’s “own worlds”.

This workshop aims at identifying narratives or discourses that can be used in a) defining boundaries that are likely to break down ethnic/linguistic solidarities, and b) building social or cultural bridges within a given ethnic or linguistic group or between different groups. Taking these two approaches into account, we look for answers to the question why are ethnic hierarchies being sought, and what are the preconditions for ethnic solidarity to be developed in media as well as face-to-face encounters, both from personal and institutional perspective. We also pose a more general question, whether media or digital technologies could be used for the purpose of bridging cultural or social gaps instead of (re)producing boundaries. We invite conceptual and empirical papers for the workshop, answering these questions or otherwise contributing to the understanding of narratives, discourses or ‘identity talk’ revolving around ethnic/linguistic hierarchies. Empirical work can be based on interviews, group discussions, media study, or the like.