Seminar: Tracing mobility across boundaries – ethnography, go big?

September 18, 2015 10:00 - 16:00

Jyväskylä Discourse Hub Think Tank Seminar
Puutarhurin Talo (J building, in the centre of the Main Campus), University of Jyväskylä

The Jyväskylä Discourse Hub invites researchers and students to participate in an interdisciplinary think tank seminar to discuss and debate the concepts of mobility, boundaries and ethnography.

Mobility is a hot topic at this moment of increasing connectivity and large-scale flows of capital, people and ideas. These global practices and discourses of mobility bring into focus the ways in which boundaries – national, ethnic, linguistic, economic, etc. – are constructed, defended, bypassed, crossed and blended, and how this social restructuration relates to critical issues of power and inequality. Mobility also poses methodological challenges. Research methods, like “deep ethnography”, have been used to study the complexity of social boundaries and change, but now many struggle with traditional notions of bounded social groups and fixed boundaries, with different forms of mobility, and with growing demands for “big data”. Indeed, debates over what counts as mobility, relevant boundaries, “deep” ethnography, and “big” data, vary between research traditions and researchers, with so far relatively little interdisciplinary dialogue about the theoretical and methodological consequences of using such concepts. We need to explore new dynamics arising between mobility and stasis, change and endurance, and their interdependence. We also need to problematize the demand for “deep” ethnography or “big” data, and to interrogate its causes and assumptions about its invoked opposites: small and superficial.

The think tank invites us to debate 1) how is mobility understood under the current conditions? 2) how are boundaries understood from a mobility perspective? and 3) what happens to ethnography and ethnographers from a mobility perspective under the current conditions?

Facilitating the discussion is a group of leading scholars from critical discourse studies, social anthropology, and critical sociolinguistics. They are professor Alexandre Duchêne (University of Fribourg), Dr. Emanuel da Silva (University of Jyväskylä and University of Toronto), professor Laura Huttunen (University of Tampere), and Dr. Alfonso del Percio (University of Oslo).

The provisional programme below strives to maximise discussion and the exchange of ideas:
10.00-10.15 Welcome and Introduction, prof. Sari Pietikäinen Discourse studies/Department of languages, University of Jyväskylä
10.15-12.15 Reflection talks on mobility, boundaries and ethnography: personal accounts
Prof. Alexandre Duchene
Dr. Emanuel da Silva
Prof. Laura Huttunen
Dr. Alfonso del Percio
12.15-13.30 Lunch
13.30-15.00 Round table discussion: hot mobility, big ethnography and making sense of shifting terrain.
15.00-16.00 Kahvi conversations with the invited speakers.
The audience circulates between 4 tables, each “hosted” by one of the invited speakers, to engage in small-group, informal discussions about the questions raised over coffee.

The presentations are in English, but discussion can be multilingual.

You are warmly invited to this event organized by the Jyväskylä Discourse Hub and the Peripheral Multilingualism research project, funded by the Academy of Finland.
To confirm your participation please email Prof. Sari Pietikäinen ( by 11.9.2015.

Please check this website for more information as it becomes available or contact Prof. Sari Pietikäinen with any questions.

« Return to events page