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INTRODUCTION During the last decade, studies on vulnerability have increased enormously. When we started our research in 2012, vulnerability was a novel approach to studying agency – one of the most central concepts of sociology. Our aims were to 1) critically scrutinize the idea of ‘free choice’ from the point of view of health and illness; in this context agency is inescapably embedded – and vulnerable; 2) conduct ethnography among extremely vulnerable lives: the elderly in deficient home-care settings, people with serious drug addictions and people with technologically improved bodies and replaced body parts and, finally, 3) scrutinize the implications of vulnerability on agency and ask how vulnerability generates social ties and networks. Today the concept of vulnerability is vital in critical discussions on the limits of ‘freedom’ and ‘free choice’ both central slogans in the increasing privatization of the health care market, occurring in Finland as elsewhere. Vulnerability has been widely used as a descriptive concept in the study of fragile life situations, socially excluded people and minorities and, e.g. dependent human beings and animals. However, this articulation of the concept has been criticized for being human-centered. The concept can also have a normative character, which refers to biological life, especially climate change and non-human lives. In a normative sense and from a Foucauldian take on productivity, vulnerability in current neo-liberal societies can also be understood as a vehicle for individualization and identity politics. Vulnerability has also been used as an ontological concept, a necessary feature of the human condition. This is probably the oldest meaning of vulnerability which has been extensively discussed e.g. in religious and ethical settings. When studying current societies, vulnerability as an ontological concept is frequently modified to serve political ends. “This seminar examines the range of definitions that vulnerability is given today. Does vulnerability matter - how? With increasingly broad articulations of the term, is it in the danger of losing its meaning? What kind of common denominators do the various articulations share? How can researchers of vulnerability communicate with one another?”In addition, we invite papers, which discuss materiality, affects and mediations between social relations and the politics of vulnerability. We invite participants from all relevant subjects, such as social sciences, humanities and the arts, philosophy and medicine. Conference is arranged by the Academy of Finland research project ‘Vulnerable lives’ (20132017), in collaboration with the Finnish Anthropological Society.


DON KULICK: Human-animal communication Since the demise in the 1980s of research by psychologists that attempted to teach human language to apes, a range of other perspectives have arisen that explore how humans can communicate with animals and what the possibility of such communication means. Sociologists interested in symbolic interactionism, anthropologists writing about ontology, equestrian and canine trainers, people with autism who say they understand animals because they think like animals, and a ragbag of sundry New Age women who claim to be able to converse with animals through telepathy have started discussing human-animal communication in ways that recast the whole point of thinking about it. I will chart how interest in human-animal communication has moved from a concern with cognition to a concern with ethics, and I will discuss the similarities and differences that exist among the range of writing on this topic. Don Kulick is Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology at Uppsala University in Sweden, where he directs a large research program titled “Engaging Vulnerabilityâ€?. He has conducted longterm fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, Brazil, and Scandinavia, and has published in a number of fields, including linguistic anthropology, sexuality and gender studies, and disability studies. His books include Travesti: sex, gender and culture among Brazilian transgendered prostitutes (1998); Taboo: sex, gender and erotic subjectivity in anthropological fieldwork (1995; with M Willson); Fat: the anthropology of an obsession (2005, with A Meneley); Language and Sexuality (2003, with D Cameron); Loneliness and its Opposite: sex, disability and the ethics of engagement (2015, with J RydstrĂśm), and most recently, The End: adventures with a dying language.


KRISTIINA BRUNILA: The ethos of vulnerability and the rise of psysubjectivity In the ethos of vulnerability tendency seems to be towards psychoemotional vulnerabilities encompassing subjects that can be known and spoken about. More and more people are drawn into the sphere of an expanded agenda of psycho-emotional risks that no longer targets just specific groups but, increasingly, anyone. The ethos of vulnerability has come to play an increasingly decisive role in shaping cross-sectoral policies and educational practices. In this presentation I consider some implications of ‘vulnerabilizisation’ in the field of education, which is a field currently thoroughly affected by neoliberalism. Kristiina Brunila works as a professor (tenure track) of social justice and equality in education in the AGORA for the social justice and equality in education -research centre, University of Helsinki. Her research group publishes widely related to policies and practices of education, social justice, governance, power, differences and agency. This conference presentation builds on the work done in previous research project Youth on the Move. Revisiting the vulnerability ethos in the era of market-oriented education (2014-2017) and in the on-going project Interrupting youth support systems in the ethos of vulnerability (2017-2021), both led by prof. (tenure track) Kristiina Brunila.


HEINI HAKOSALO: Vulnerable Bonds Social Relationships and Tuberculosis in 20th-Century Finland This paper discusses vulnerability as a context-specific function of social relationships and societal structures, with tuberculosis as the historical example. For the first part of the 20th century, tuberculosis was a leading cause of death in Finland, and it remained a public health problem until the 1970s. The disease affected both adults, children and infants. A multisystemic infectious disease with protean manifestations, tuberculosis makes the individual body vulnerable at several points. Prior to the introduction of effective and affordable chemotherapeutics (195060), a tuberculosis diagnosis would signify a major break in the life course of an individual even if s/he survived the disease. A central function of 20th-century popular tuberculosis education, or “propaganda” in the parlance of the day, was to make people aware of their vulnerability to the disease and thereby more susceptible to expert advice. This conference paper focuses on vulnerability as a social and societal issue. It discusses vulnerability and instability that tuberculosis introduced into social relationships (especially family relationships) and asks how the social and economic structures characteristic of 20th-century Finland made social relationship more susceptible or, alternatively, more resistant to the disruptive effect of a disease like tuberculosis. Heini Hakosalo is an Adjunct Professor (University of Turku) and University Lecturer (University of Oulu) specialised in history of medicine and health. She has worked as a visiting researcher at the University College London, University of Edinburgh and University of Stockholm. She has worked on e.g. Michel Foucault as a historian of medicine and psychiatry, history of brain studies, history of women’s medical education, and, most recently, history of tuberculosis in 20th-century Finland (in the capacity of Academy of Finland Research Fellow).


Marja-Liisa Honkasalo is a medical doctor and an anthropologist who in her research examines diverse articulations of the enigmatic relationship between nature and culture. This inquiry has articulated itself via numerous ethnographic domains: most notably illness, the body and death, as well as the cultural meanings of women’s symptoms, the phenomenology of the body and experience of chronic pain. Her research departs from the realisation that in contemporary societies the body is conceptualised more as an artifact and less as natural than ever before. She argues that the body and its illnesses are “done” by a variety of cultural practices, including medical technology, and that in order to open the concept of “doing”, we need a theoretical apparatus elaborated from Science and Technology Studies as well as from what is called “new materialism”. Before joining the University of Turku in 2011, she worked as Professor of Medical anthropology at the University of Linköping, Sweden (since 2006). She has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University, and visiting Professor at Università degli Studi di Roma, La Sapienza (Italy). In 2010 she was awarded with the internationally distinguished Steve Polgar Professional Prize, for the article “Grips and Ties. Agency, Uncertainty and Suffering in North Karelia.” She is Docent in Medical anthropology as well as in Sociology at the University of Helsinki, and has been the director of numerous large research projects by the Academy of Finland, among them ‘Multicultural communication in health care’, ‘Vulnerable Agency’, and ‘Mind and the Other’. Her most recent book is the Finnish anthology ‘Mielen rajoilla: arjen kummat kokemukset’ (SKS 2017).

PANELS 30.11.17

13-14:45 PANEL 1: BODY, POLITICS & GOVERNMENTALITY (ROOM 505) CHAIR: Miia Halme-Tuomisaari / Emotional vulnerability and emergence of the ‘exhausted citizen’ in the Finnish political discourse Kia Andell, University of Turku / A Womb of One’s Own? Feminist and Queer Bioethical Inquiries into Vulnerability, Agency and Justice in Surrogacy Tiia Sudenkaarne, University of Turku / ‘Aren’t you afraid to come here with us?’: Vulnerability, resistance and affect in an ethnography direct action Mateusz Laszczkowski, University of Warsaw Discussant: Riikka Perälä

COFFEE 15-17 PANELS 2A & 2B 2A: NARRATING VULNERABILITY (ROOM 405) CHAIR: Riikka Perälä / Vulnerability in narratives about violence by women imprisoned for violent crimes Satu Venäläinen, University of Helsinki / Vulnerability and a story of quest Hanna Pohjola, University of Eastern Finland / I want to know about mental health literacy of Kurdish refugees Afrouz Zibaei, Manchester Metropolitan University / Unmaking vulnerability Taika Bottner Discussant: Pia Vuolanto

PANELS 30.11.17

2B: NORMS, VULNERABILITY & HUMAN-ANIMAL INTERACTION (ROOM 313) CHAIR: Marja-Liisa Honkasalo / Philosophical narratives on suffering Elisa Aaltola, University of Eastern Finland / Recognizing Vulnerability: Judith Butler and Animal Trouble Sanna Karhu, University of Helsinki / Performing good death at the veterinary clinic: experiences of pet euthanasia in Finland Nora Schuurman, University of Eastern Finland DISCUSSANT: Jouni Teittinen

PANELS 1.12.17

13-14:45 PANEL 3: CARE, CATEGORIZATION & KNOWLEDGE (ROOM 404) CHAIR: Anna Leppo / Vulnerable meetings in between staff and clients with simultaneous mental health and substance abuse problems Minna Sorsa & Päivi Åstedt-Kurki, University of Tampere / Sociolinguistic vulnerability. The case of academic publishing Josep Soler, University of Stockholm / From individual characteristics into challenging life situations Marjo Kuronen, Suvi Liuski & Elina Virokannas / Rethinking vulnerability through the concept of ailment Vaiva-kollektiivi eli Hoppania, Hanna-Kaisa; Karsio, Olli; Näre, Lena; Olakivi, Antero; Sointu, Liina; Vaittinen, Tiina & Zechner, Minna DISCUSSANT: Antero Olakivi

15-16:30 PANEL 4: ADDICTION & DEATH (ROOM 404) CHAIR: Susanne Ådahl / Vulnerability in addiction: Reading against the grain Susanne Uusitalo, University of Helsinki / What Is Best for Dying? Debating Limits to Participation of Vulnerable People in Reality Television Outi J. Hakola, University of Helsinki / Meaningful relations; Patient and family carer encountering death at home (MeRela) Auli Vähäkangas, University of Helsinki, Anna Mäki-Petäjä-Leinonen, University of Eastern Finland, Sofia Sarivaara, National Institute for Health and Welfare, University of Helsinki DISCUSSANT: Anna Leppo

ABSTRACTS by session

PANEL 1: Body, Politics & Governmentality / Making of the ‘exhausted citizen’ in Finnish political discourse Kia Andell, University of Turku The paper introduces some preliminary empirical findings from a work-in-progress research tracking ‘therapeutic’ discourse in Finnish party politics. The background lies in a research project investigating conceptions of welfare in Finnish political discourse from 1970’s-2015. So far, it has been pointed out that contemporary coarticulation of welfarist and neoliberalist rationalities has given rise to a ‘therapeutic’ citizen-subject who is highly self-managing and takes responsibility for own and others’ well-being. I will argue here, however, that this therapeutic framing of citizenship also shapes another set of properties it attaches to the subject it invites: underlying selfreliant therapeutic citizenship is a notion of vulnerability based on an increasing understanding of risk. Particularly, I will address how the feeling of stress has been recasted into an individual pathology during the period under examination. Drawing from analysis of comprehensive archive of documents by Finnish political parties 1971-2015, I suggest that this new articulation of stress gives rise to a vulnerable citizen-subject whose everyday life becomes under scrutiny through a new vocabulary of ‘exhaustion’. The purpose of the paper is to analyze how this ‘exhausted citizen’ emerges in political discourse, what kinds of governmental objectives it is related to, and how it negotiates neoliberal/welfarist political rationalities. My overall aim is to provide an understanding of how vulnerability, defined here as an individualised state of being at risk to gain mental damage from everyday social environments such as work or family, is drawn into the center of political struggles concerning relationships between society, individual and economy, and how it is adopted to reconfigure these relationships in ways that may propose but also resist the notion of neoliberal. Kia Andellin PhD candidate, Department of Social Research, University of Turku kia.andell@utu.fi

/ A Womb of One’s Own? Feminist and Queer Bioethical Inquiries into Vulnerability, Agency and Justice in Surrogacy Tiia Sudenkaarne, University of Turku I offer a queer and feminist bioethical analysis of surrogacy as the ultimate form of gendered work and simultaneously, as an elemental reproduction strategy for gay couples. I discuss surrogacy as a matter of reproductive rights and reproductive justice. Moreover, I analyze how bioethical agency, vulnerability and justice are crucially informed by gender and sexuality. Majority of commercial surrogacy is managed by multinational healthcare companies as reproductive tourism ─ its extreme forms ipso facto reproductive colonialism

ABSTRACTS by session

─ from the wealthy North to the South. Hence it is crucial from a social and global justice viewpoint to extend the demands for justice to all forms of surrogacy. How do vulnerability and justice sustain and transform depending on how we contextualize and regulate surrogacy? Is the right to utilize one’s own womb as one sees fit the most important reproductive right of a free (gendered) agent? Are surrogacy bans reproductively unjust not only to women but also to other groups such as gay men? In terms of reproductive justice, should one be indeed entitled to a womb? Tiia Sudenkaarne is a PhD candidate in Practical Philosophy at University of Turku tiijun@utu.fi

/ ‘Aren’t you afraid to come here with us?’: Vulnerability, resistance and affect in an ethnography direct action Mateusz Laszczkowski, University of Warsaw ‘Aren’t you afraid to come here with us?’, a protester asked me in a tense moment as we were facing a detachment of riot police in the middle of the night, in the forest. She was a woman about my mother’s age, physically small and frail, and disabled after having her ankle smashed by a policeman during a previous demonstration. I realized I was afraid, and yet I found something connecting me to that woman and other protesters, something that made me want to stand my ground no matter what. This was one episode in my long ethnographic fieldwork among No TAV activists, protesting against the planned construction of a new high-speed railway (TAV) in Val di Susa, in the Italian Alps. In this paper, I use this episode as a point of departure to explore the relationship between vulnerability and resistance. I follow Judith Butler’s recent argument that vulnerability often is what makes resistance possible and meaningful, yet I also contend that Butler’s work on this topic can be enhanced by an aditional focus on affect. I argue, moreover, that vulnerability matters heuristically for ethnography: by attending to the affective capacities of their own vulnerable bodies ethnographers might access kinds of knowledge, for instance about resistance, that elude other, more conventional modalities of ethnographic enquiry. Mateusz Laszczkowski (PhD) works at the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, University of Warsaw m.laszczkowsk5@uw.edu.pl

ABSTRACTS by session

PANEL 2a: Narrating vulnerability / Vulnerability in narratives about violence by women imprisoned for violent crimes Satu Venäläinen, University of Helsinki My presentation focuses on narratives by women serving a prison sentence for violent crimes, based on interviews and written accounts collected in a few prisons in Finland. I approach these narratives with attention to multilayered contexts within which they are produced, ranging from interactional contexts of research encounters in prisons to gendered cultural conceptions about valid markers of subjecthood. In the analysis of these narratives I have discerned various selves that are enacted through acts of accounting for violence by the women participating in the study. In these narratives, gendered vulnerability entwines with agentic portrayals of action in several ways. For instance, not only does violent action figure in the narratives as a means for resisting vulnerability, but doing it also casts the women in vulnerable positions in terms of social exclusion. Moreover, in addition to constituting a context for doing violence, vulnerability is also frequently distanced from one’s self in the narratives. I argue for viewing this distancing as part of efforts to attach worth to one’s self and thus to subvert one’s status as a faulty subject. In addition to their experiences of violence in the past, the imprisonment puts the women in specifically vulnerable positions in terms of worth. I view these past, present and future vulnerabilities as in a dialectical relation with the narratives the women tell and the selves they enact through them, affectively pushing towards certain socio-culturally valuable – even if morally complex – positionings and away from those that threaten their subjecthood. Satu Venäläinen is a Doctoral candidate in Social Psychology at the University of Helsinki satu.venalainen@helsinki.fi

/ Vulnerability and a story of quest Hanna Pohjola, University of Eastern Finland This presentation introduces an autobiographical narrative, where agency is approached from a perspective of acquired disability. The narrative of Paul (pseudonym) enlightens his path to reclamechis agency and identity within the frames of a quest story (Frank 1995). Paul’s narrative is an example of fragile life situation where traumatic brain injury affects to normative expectations related to life. A retrospectively written account extends for twenty years, and offers a view on adolescence, emerging adulthood and adulthood as a disabled man. The story outlines agency and identity, and their social dependency and society’s prevailing structures. Paradoxically, the acquired disability both silences and enables Paul’s agency. This friction leads Paul into persistent

ABSTRACTS by session

need for dialogue with society and attempts to (re)integrate himself into society. Even though social hinders and social exclusion are apparent in the narrative, writing as a form of self-expression enables him to make sense of disability, define its meaning and (re)construct a sense of identity. In Paul’s account disability is accepted, a self-reinvention is found and demands on gaining experience through social actions exist that allow him to (re)integrate into society that has left him aside. Thus, in Paul’s narrative vulnerability is presented as an asset for personal growth. Hanna Pohjola is a researcher at the Department of Social Sciences, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland hanna.pohjola@uef.fi

/ Vulnerable in Spaces? – Narrated Embodied Agency and Disability in Everyday Spaces Merja Tarvainen & Päivi Åstedt-Kurki, University of Eastern Finland This paper focuses on vulnerability in relation to narrated agency with disability in everyday spaces. The paper is based on Narratives of Bodily Differences research project which is funded by Academy of Finland (# 299172) and led by Professor Vilma Hänninen. Spaces of everyday life are often lived without a specific deliberation. Nevertheless, they are material and social environment where people spend most of time. Lived spaces become deliberated in situations e.g., when embodied agents collide with material and social environment. Embodiment and body have been troublesome issues in disability studies. Studies on body have been interpreted as a potential way to reproducing medical-based interpretations on disability as individual matter wherein individual is set as an object without words. If disability studies want to foster interpretations of disability as social phenomenon (as it does), studies on experienced agency and narratives by people with disability will enhance agency and belonging to collective storytelling. In this presentation, I will discuss how narrators with disabilities narrate embodied agency in the spaces of everyday life. The data from which everyday stories were picked and analysed with the model of narrative circulation (MNC) is ‘Life of Disabled Persons in Finland (2013–2014)’ collection. In the methodological context of MNC, conditions and situation give a means to analyse lived and narrated agency in spaces. Spaces are designed for a particular type of agent. People who differ from the so-called default agent may meet spatial barriers. Accessibility is pointed out as one of the key aims of current disability policy. However, narratives on everyday inaccessibility (and their consequences) are typically quite hidden. Vulnerability may be related to living in spaces, telling about experiences and being related in social, material and embodied environment and storytelling. Merja Tarvainen is a Postdoctoral Researcher Doc.Soc.Sc., MA Merja Tarvainen University of Eastern Finland Department of Social Sciences merja.tarvainen@uef.fi

ABSTRACTS by session

/ Understanding Mental Health Issues Among Kurdish Refugees in Finland: A Life Story Approach Afrouz Zibaei, Manchester Metropolitan University The psychological and social stresses often experienced by refugees during migration can double the prevalence of severe disorders (psychosis, severe depression and disabling anxiety), and increase mild to moderate mental disorders from 10% to 15-20%, according to the World Health Organization (2012). In 2015, the Finnish Statistics Centre reported that there were 11,271 Kurdish immigrants and refugees are living in Finland. According to the THL research study (2015), mental health symptoms are highly prevalent particularly in Kurdish migrants in Finland. In this research study, I attempt to understand how Kurdish refugees experience and cope with the refugee process and how this affects their mental health. I have chosen a qualitative study based on life story approach to explore the mental health of Kurdish refugees through their individual life experience. Qualitative data collection will play an important role in providing useful information to understand the processes behind people’s perception of their mental health and wellbeing. The three main methods of data collection in life story work which I will use are: 1) Qualitative Interviews 2) Personal Documents 3) Visual Forms of Life Story. The “framework method” has been chosen as the method of analyzing data for this work. The Framework Method is becoming an increasingly popular approach to the management and analysis of qualitative data in health research. Afrouz Zibaei is a Ph.D. student at Manchester Metropolitan University, UK afrouz.zibaei@stu.mmu.ac.uk

/ Unmaking vulnerability Taika Bottner “Vulnerability” is a term that is very important in securing the safety and well-being of a participant, whether it is in healthcare practice or in research. Yet, saying that someone is vulnerable means making a statement that this person is in need of mental or physical protection, often due to not being able to do something. With this statement we are denying his/her agency and ignoring an important part of the personhood, leaving the person only with the mental or physical disabilities. In this paper, I want to raise questions about the use of the term as a form of categorisation, and whether it is more harming or benefitting the research and/or the participants. I argue further that a phenomenological approach, based on more subjective experiencing of the world, can offer another perspective that can help to create more productive forms of interaction. As an example, using case studies, I consider art and making as a form of interaction with people living with dementia. Phenomenological approach of making acknowledges their agency and their abilities to interact with the world, even when other forms of interaction might not seem possible. I argue that what is significant about the term vulnerability is that it invites the researcher to engage in gaining a deeper understanding of the participants and to consider new forms of communication. By defining vulnerability in terms of interaction, instead of as a measurement of people’s disabilities, we

ABSTRACTS by session

acknowledge the skills and strengths that the people have, but also that vulnerability is always relational and constantly changing. After all, we are all (humans and non-humans) vulnerable in diverse ways. Taika Bottner has a Master of Research in Anthropology, Art and Perception from the University of St Andrews, Scotland ihalainen-bottner@outlook.com

PANEL 2b: Norms, Vulnerability & Human-animal interaction / Philosophical narratives on suffering Elisa Aaltola, University of Eastern Finland Suffering has been characterized with a variety of widely different descriptions in Western philosophy, which gain a narrative form, and reflect wider cultural “stories” on the meaning of vulnerability and suffering. Emmanuel Levinas has notably classified suffering as something fundamentally negative – it is a destructive force, which defies language and reason, and which ultimately disrupts our very agency and humanity. Here, suffering acts as the antithesis to what it is to exist as a feeling, thinking individual, and its consequence is loss of agency. Friedrich Nietzsche, on the other hand, depicts suffering as an enabling force, which has the capacity to awaken the vulnerable sufferer to new perspectives on reality, and thereby, instead of destroying it, illuminates and strengthens our agency. Here, suffering is not a villain but rather a catalyst for a more in-depth viewpoint into existence. Simone Weil offers a further take on vulnerability and suffering. She perceives suffering as an affliction with great destructive power, and like Levinas, claims it to have the capacity to nullify our agency. However, unlike Levinas, Weil takes this to be something positive: when our agency is questioned or even eradicated, we gain a clearer sense of moral goodness. Weil departs also from the Nietzschean narrative. Whereas Nietzsche argues that suffering can strengthen our sense of self and thereby lead to a type of enlightenment, Weil maintains that precisely due to its capacity to fracture that sense of self and to questions our ego, it can spark experiences of goodness and love. The paper discusses these three narratives on suffering, and suggests that the Weilian account offers the most fruitful alternative, with the promise of rendering vulnerability into something that includes both destructive and moral dimensions. However, it will be argued that its emphasis on the individual, rather than her wider, social setting, ought to be problematized. Elisa Aaltola FT, Yliopistotutkija,Itä-Suomen yliopisto elanaa@utu.fi

ABSTRACTS by session

/ Recognizing Vulnerability: Judith Butler and Animal Trouble Sanna Karhu, University of Helsinki Judith Butler’s recent work provides a powerful critique of violence in the context of her response to the war on terror by asking whose lives count as valuable enough for protection against violence and suffering. Underlying Butler’s analysis lies her notion of bodily vulnerability by which she refers not only to the physical condition of precariousness that characterizes all corporeal life—including also nonhuman animals—but also to the normative process through which certain bodies and populations are made more vulnerable to destruction and violence than others. Butler’s key argument is that vulnerability is in this sense conditioned by social norms that regulate what kinds of lives we come to recognize as valuable and thus as worth protecting and preserving. Although Butler’s concept of bodily vulnerability challenges the human/animal binary often presupposed in feminist approaches to the problem of vulnerability, also her critique of violence has mainly focused on human populations. Therefore, several critical animal studies scholars have claimed that Butler’s theorization of vulnerability reproduces human exceptionalism. In this presentation, I challenge these criticisms by showing, first, that Butler has revised her concept of vulnerability by shifting her analytical emphasis from “the human” to the more general question of “life.” I argue that this shift indicates a more robust inclusion of nonhuman animals into Butler’s concept of vulnerability and thus into her critique of violence as well. Second, by highlighting Butler’s remarks on vulnerability vis-à-vis nonhuman animals, I suggest that although she leaves “the animal” to the margins of her work, her notion of vulnerability offers insights into exposing and problematizing normalized forms of violence against animals. To demonstrate this, I conclude the paper by providing a critical analysis of the normative frameworks that seek to preclude us from recognizing animal vulnerabilities in the context of industrialized animal farming and killing. Sanna Karhu is a Teaching Fellow in Gender Studies, in the Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland. sanna.karhu@helsinki.fi

/ Performing good death at the veterinary clinic: experiences of pet euthanasia in Finland Nora Schuurman, University of Eastern Finland In contemporary pet-keeping culture, the death of an animal is managed by the veterinary profession. The situation of euthanising the pet at the clinic is not an easy one for the owner of the animal, who has to manage the emotions involved in the death of a pet, while at the same time, worrying about animal welfare in euthanasia. In this presentation I explore the performances of good death in pet euthanasia. Drawing on pet owners’ experiences, I scrutinise the practice of euthanasia at the space of the veterinary clinic, emotions felt by owners about pet loss, the role of animal agency, and the expertise of the

ABSTRACTS by session

veterinarian in providing the animal with an ending to its life. Theoretically, the presentation draws on recent discussions about human–animal relationships as performances, as productive processes in which the relationship comes into being. The data consists of written narratives from a nationwide writing collection organised in Finland in 2014–2015. According to the analysis, the veterinary clinic as a site of pet euthanasia makes the human–pet relationship vulnerable by shifting it away from the home, the space in which the relationship is otherwise experienced and lived. Pet euthanasia nevertheless has the potential to become a relational achievement between the agency and bodies of the owner, the veterinarian, and the pet. As such, it is a situated practice in which the animal can be killed at the same time that its relationship with humans is celebrated – an act of responsible killing and of care, with a possibility to provide the animal a good ending to its life. Nora Schurman (PhD, Doc) is post-doctoral researcher at the Carelian Institute of the University of Eastern Finland nora.schuurman@uef.fi

PANEL 3: Care, Categorization & Knowledge / Vulnerable meetings in between staff and clients with simultaneous mental health and substance abuse problems Minna Sorsa, University of Tampere In our ethnographic study at a low threshold service (Sorsa et al 2017a, draft) we found out that collaboration between clients and staff require negotiations on vulnerability. Barriers in being helped exist on several simultaneous levels (Sorsa et al 2017b). The clients with mental ill health and substance abuse come from very complex backgrounds, and helping is affected by many different levels of connections and non-connectedness. Clients may not be able to verbalize their needs, or they may not want to be exposed. The staff have their professional ideals for work and yet they cannot use their skills fully eg due to resourcing questions. The client needs may be out of reach of what the services can offer. Both clients and staff seem vulnerable in meeting each other. We will deal with vulnerability as a descriptive concept in the study of fragile life situations. Vulnerability matters for those, who are actors within helping professions. Our questions in this presentation on vulnerability are: How to be reflexive in a time, when clients are coming from increasingly diverse backgrounds? Can nurses continue being humane or are their abilities delimited because it is simply

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too much to cope with on a personal level? We will look at the complexity of helping, is it possible, difficult or even impossible? Professional ethics is intended to protect the rights of clients and their freedom of choice. Should professional ethics also protect the workers? We question whether a professional approving the vulnerability of the other, could increase understanding and enhance collaboration so that working on a humane level can persist? Minna Sorsa, R.N., MNSc, University of Tampere Minna.Sorsa@staff.uta.fi







/ Sociolinguistic vulnerability. The case of academic publishing Josep Soler, University of Stockholm The main purpose of this paper is to attempt a reading of the concept of vulnerability in sociolinguistic terms. In short, the goal is to discuss how language creates opportunities for inclusion and exclusion, and to see how, particularly in the context of academia, publishing for academic purposes constitutes a system where some actors have more agentive power and more affordances than others. Empirically, in the paper I analyse the discourse of what has been termed predatory open-access journals with a corpus of scam emails sent to scholars by hitherto unknown publishers. Framed against the background of a sociolinguistics of mobility, these emails become interesting objects of analysis because of their different indexical values. In particular, beyond issues of ordered indexicalities, I argue that these texts point to the seriously flawed nature of the field of academic publishing and the associated inequalities that are currently present in this field. Examining such inequalities based exclusively on the native/non-native English speakers divide, as has been traditionally done in sociolinguistic debates, is not useful, nor is it enough to simply raise awareness against such predatory publishers. Instead, I argue in favour of a more sociologically informed analysis of academic publishing, something that I see as necessary if we wish to enhance more democratic means of access to key resources in publishing. Josep Soler is Assistant professor of English at the University of Stockholm josep.soler@english.su.se

/ From individual characteristics into challenging life situations Marjo Kuronen, Suvi Liuski & Elina Virokannas The concept of vulnerability is widely used in social scientific research as well as in policy making, health and social care services, and in social work, but it is rarely theoretically defined. It is often used in a stigmatising way referring to individuals or groups associated with victimhood, deprivation, dependency or pathology. It is also used for example to justify rights for benefits or entry into special services or treatment. The aim of our ongoing research project is to use vulnerability as a critical concept. We argue that

ABSTRACTS by session

research should focus on vulnerable life situations instead of vulnerable individuals or groups. We want to turn the attention towards society, social conditions and institutions, including the welfare service system, that are generating vulnerability instead of seeing individuals as vulnerable. In our paper, in order to search for an alternative, critical conceptualisation, we will present a systematic literature review on how vulnerability as a concept has been used and defined in academic articles published in the international social work research journals and in journals of other relevant disciplines since the year 2000. We will ask 1.) What are the themes and topics studied that are related to vulnerability, 2.) What are the service user groups that are seen as vulnerable, 3.) How gender is related to vulnerability, and 4.) How the concept of vulnerability is defined in these academic articles. We find it important that researchers choose and use their concepts and theoretical approaches in a way that is not stigmatizing or victimizing service users, but instead, are empowering for them and helping them to see how social relations, structures and institutions are working and organising their everyday world. The paper is part of the research project “Transforming welfare service system from the standpoint of women in vulnerable life situations” (Academy of Finland, project no 294407, 2016-20). elina.virokannas@helsinki.fi

/ Rethinking vulnerability through the concept of ailment Vaiva-kollektiivi eli Hoppania, Hanna-Kaisa; Karsio, Olli; Näre, Lena; Olakivi, Antero; Sointu, Liina; Vaittinen, Tiina & Zechner, Minna Shortages in the quality of old age care is a human rights concern, which requires political action but also conceptual tools for thinking about policy and practice. Here, debates regarding the concept of vulnerability are highly relevant, as presented in feminist care theory and critical disability studies, for instance. In these different bodies of literature, vulnerability is imbued with varying meanings, ranging from the body’s exposure to external threats and violence, to all living beings’ vulnerability to disease and pain, and to the decaying impacts of ageing, and, eventually, death. Often these discussions of vulnerability underline the human body’s existential dependency on care from other bodies, but not always. In this paper, we aim to strengthen the link between human beings’ existential vulnerability and care by rethinking human vulnerability as ailment. With the term ailment (translated from the Finnish concept ‘vaiva’), we refer to the existential mental and physical vulnerability that is not only inherent in all human beings at all times, but also make us inherently dependent on care provided by other human beings. After reviewing different bodies of literature on the concept of vulnerability and care, we conclude that although the concept of vulnerability and the concept of care both imply embodied and material care

ABSTRACTS by session

needs, these needs are not always made explicit. We then move on to suggest that through the concept of ailment it is possible to steer the focus back to the vital basis of care: the needy body and mind. With the help of the concept of ailment, we look into the diverse policy responses to human ailment, from ignorance and personalization to commodification. Our paper examines these diverse responses and demonstrates the productive power of ailment. Building on multidisciplinary bodies of literature, we demonstrate how ailment defines the relations within care and cuts through the entire social order from micropolitics of the body to the transnational financialization of care. What shapes societies, we argue, are the ways in which they respond to ailment that is common to all individuals in various forms. Thus, the concept of ailment has political leverage in exposing the material and economic requirements that our existential vulnerability necessarily places on the society. http://vivakollektiivi.blogspot.fi Twitter: @vaivainen

PANEL 4: Addiction & Death / Vulnerability in addiction: Reading against the grain Susanne Uusitalo, University of Helsinki Vulnerability of addicted individuals is something that is generally agreed upon. They are arguably a vulnerable population in health care, and in society in general. However, the claim may be based on various views. For instance the US National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) states, “[b]rain sciences generate evidence of the vulnerability of addicted individuals referring to pathologies of the brain, typically induced by drug use”, whereas the Global Commission on Drug Policy stresses that the vulnerability caused by drug policies is often more severe and harmful than the pathologies of the brain. Both identify drug use as the loci of the vulnerability, but the cause for the vulnerability lies in different sources, namely in the pharmacological effects of substance in the brain functioning and social policies, respectively. Furthermore, both of these vulnerabilities are the kind that typically may undermine an individual’s capability to autonomous agency, i.e. making meaningful decisions regarding one’s life without controlling influences such as coercion. Pathological vulnerability suggests that the addicted individuals crave drugs and the use is characterized as compulsive. Yet, they seem competent to make decisions regarding that use. The addicted brain imposes internal “coercion” to agency whilst social policies (and e.g. stigma) amount to external controlling influences for the agent. What I want to suggests in this presentation is that vulnerability is not automatically something that generates potential harm and injustice, but it can also have aspects that can be considered strengths.

ABSTRACTS by session

This has implications for the normativity of vulnerability in addiction. Typically this vulnerability is seen as something that requires measures; If possible, we need to prevent and mitigate this vulnerability, and if this is not possible, we need to take action either by protecting the vulnerable or in other way taking measures that the vulnerable will not be subjected to harm. If vulnerability does not necessarily amount to an indicator of normative action, does it lose its plausibility in health care, for instance? I will suggest that it does not, as the concept serves a useful tool for instance in research and treatment: not only does it indicate points of potential interventions but also enables individuals to employ their vulnerabilities in a productive manner to the ways in which they wish to live their lives. Susanne Uusitalo is a post-doctoral researcher at the Department of Political and Economic Studies, University of Helsinki Susanne.uusitalo@helsinki.fi

/ What Is Best for Dying? Debating Limits to Participation of Vulnerable People in Reality Television Outi J. Hakola, University of Helsinki There has been something of a proliferation of end-of-life documentaries in recent years—films, television documentaries, special episodes, and documentary series. The growing interest can be related to the aging population, death awareness movements, and increased demand for hospice care in the Western world. Film and television directors have contributed to public discussions on death by giving visibility to dying people, and claims are often made in the documentaries that dying people find filmmaking therapeutic. The need to reflect and manage emotions has been visible in the television programing in general: different talk shows, reality TV, and docusoaps have engaged both performers and viewers in self-monitoring processes. The mediated images can be seen as participating in the growing popularity of using art (and entertainment) to create well-being, public health, and therapy for ill, dying, and mourning people. The use of “healing arts� (such as creative writing and painting) function as triggers for discussion and expressions of emotions and overall useful for art psychotherapy and counseling. However, the healing uses of art have also been challenged when dealing with people in vulnerable positions. Indeed, observational tendency of the documentaries can also be seen as taking advantage of the filmed subject, and the self-reflection can also impose meanings on the objects and their experiences (as well as on the viewers). In Finland, public debate on taking advantage of dying people appeared with a television project My Last Words (Viimeiset sanani, 2013). The reality based program that concentrated on dying people and death in Finland raised plenty of discussion on sensationalism, voyeurism and limits for television programming. The understanding of dying to be in a vulnerable position was in the center of the debate. In this presentation, I will discuss how the agency of dying people was understood by the dying people, by their family and friends, and by the general public. Who has the right to

ABSTRACTS by session

decide what is best for dying, and are there social and cultural limits to vulnerable agency? Outi J. Hakola is a senior researcher (Academy of Finland Research Fellow) at the Area and Cultural Studies, University of Helsinki outi.j.hakola@helsinki.fi

/ Meaningful relations; Patient and family carer encountering death at home (MeRela) Auli Vähäkangas, University of Helsinki The number of patients in home-based end-of-life care in Finland is increasing; however, the shift in balance from institution-centred care to a relationshipcentred ideal have not been well studied. As a concept, meaningful relations stems from theories of meaning in life and relationality. The previous research of the team has dealt with rights and autonomy of the elderly, with good aging and various aspects of end-of-life care cultural elements in communal endof-life care and meaning in life. In order to test the topic and methods we conducted a pilot study which later resulted in the MeRela project. Part of the testing and development of the method was using Pictor charts. The consortium is formed by the main research site at the Faculty of Theology at the University of Helsinki (UH) and the consortium partner, the Law School of the University of Eastern Finland (UEF). Members of the consortium will plan, gather and analyse the data together. The aim is to investigate how personal relations influence end-of-life care of an older adult (over 65) and her/his family carer in the setting of a private home. The aim is obtained through the following research questions: 1. How do the relationship networks construct the home as a site of end-of-life care? 2. How are culture/religion expressed as a source of meaning in the relations of end-of-life care? 3. How are the rights and autonomy of the dying patients constructed within and through meaningful relationships? The MeRela project will be implemented in three work packages: WP1: The home as a place; WP2: Culture and religion; WP3: Rights, autonomy. Interviews will be undertaken with persons with Advanced Disease (AD) in the last year of life, active family carers and bereaved carers (total 45). The expected results formulate a theory of relational grief and will develop empirical research on relationality in legal context. Annual participatory workshops are organized in which delegates will develop pragmatic baseline guidelines for holistic endof-life care and to develop a tool from Pictor. The MeRela project provides deeper understanding on the human experience when confronting death, dying, and bereavement. To be able to provide support and care for dying and carer it is crucial to identify personal meaning-systems and worldview. Professor Auli Vähäkangas, University of Helsinki Subproject PI: Senior Lecturer Anna Mäki-Petäjä-Leinonen, University of Eastern Finland, perheoikeuden dosentti, Anna Mäki-Petäjä-Leinonen ja sosiaalitieteiden tohtorikoulutettava, THL:n tutkija, Sofia Sarivaara. auli.vahakangas@helsinki.fi

List of participants

ORGANIZERS Marja-Liisa Honkasalo University of Turku & Helsinki


Miia Halme-Tuomisaari University of Helsinki


CONFERENCE ASSISTANT Bea Bergholm bea.bergholm@helsinki.fi

KEYNOTES Don Kulick University of Uppsala Heini Hakosalo University of Oulu Kristiina Brunila University of Helsinki

don.kulick@antro.uu.se heini.hakosalo@oulu.fi kristiina.brunila@helsinki.fi

COMMENTATORS Sanna Karhu University of Helsinki


Jutta Ahlbec Åbo Akademi


Miia Halme-Tuomisaari University of Helsinki


DISCUSSANTS & CHAIRS Riikka Perälä riikka.perala@ehyt.fi Pia Vuolanto pia.vuolanto@staff.uta.fi Jouni Teittinen jiteit@utu.fi Anna Leppo


Antero Olakivi antero.olakivi@helsinki.fi Susanne Ådahl


List of participants

PAPER & POSTER PRESENTERS 1. Kia Andell Universiy of Turku


2. Tiia Sudenkaarne University of Turku


3. Mateusz Laszczkowski University of Warsaw


4. Satu Venäläinen University of Helsinki


5. Hanna Pohjola University of Eastern Finland 6. Merja Tarvainen & Päivi Åstedt-Kurki University of Eastern Finland


7. Afrouz Zibaei Manchester Metropolitan University


8. Taika Bottner ihalainen-bottner@outlook.com 9. Elisa Aaltola University of Eastern Finland


10. Sanna Karhu University of Helsinki


11. Nora Schuurman University of Eastern Finland


12. Minna Sorsa University of Tampere


13. Josep Stoler Stockholm University josep.soler@english.su.se 14. Marjo Kuronen, Suvi Liuski & Elina Virokannas elina.virokannas@helsinki.fi 15. Vaiva-kollektiivi HoppaniaHanna-Kaisa; Karsio, Olli; Näre, Lena; Olakivi, Antero; Sointu, Liina; Vaittinen, Tiina; Zechner, Minna antero.olakivi@helsinki.fi

List of participants

16. Susanne Uusitalo University of Helsinki


17. Outi J. Hakola University of Helsinki


18. Auli Vähäkangas University of Helsinki, Anna Mäki-Petäjä-Leinonen University of Eastern Finland Sofia Sarivaara National Institute for Health and Welfare University of Helsinki auli.vahakangas@helsinki.fi 19. Susanna Hast Art University, Helsinki


20. Sofia Sarivaara University of Helsinki



Profile for How Does Vulnerability Matter

How Does Vulnerability Matter? - Conference program  

This is the final program for the conference "How Does Vulnerability Matter?" at Tieteiden Talo (House of Science), Helsinki, November 30th...

How Does Vulnerability Matter? - Conference program  

This is the final program for the conference "How Does Vulnerability Matter?" at Tieteiden Talo (House of Science), Helsinki, November 30th...


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