(Re-)Production of Social Identities: An Anthropological Approach to Cultural Adaptation Processes of Migrated Youth in Finnish Lapland

This dissertation addresses the challenges and strategies of cultural identity forming processes in Finnish Lapland from the perspective of immigrated youth, aged between thirteen and sixteen. The shared experiences of inclusion and exclusion into the local community are central elements of this dissertation and will become apparent by applying child- centered qualitative research methods. Including the voices of youth to research is of significance for the outcome, as is the examination of how identities are being formed. The theoretical approach of this work is embedded in anthropological discourses of identity, ethnicity and migration. The objective is to analyse a specific, social phenomenon through the lens of anthropology and thereby contribute to the interdisciplinary discourse of youth migration in the Arctic region. Furthermore, it adds to the discussion of sustainable communities with the focus on youth wellbeing and shows aspirations of young people living in Finnish Lapland.

Hard Facts

Project Duration: Oktober 2018 – September 2021

Funding: uni:docs (Universität Wien)

Project by: Ria-Maria Adams

Supervisor: Peter Schweitzer, Florian Stammler


Changing consumption practices and consumption policies of the state in Russia: socio-political subjectivities and modes of citizenship of the new middle classes

The research project focuses on the new middle classes, their consumption practices, and consumption politics and policies of the Russian state. It addresses the broader topic of relationships between the state and citizens in the context of the post-Soviet development of Russia. The thesis investigates the impact of the new state regulations of and on consumption (the introduction of the embargo on food imports in 2014 and the policy of import substitution) at the background of the economic crisis. I suggest that the ways the new middle classes react and adapt to these changes are embedded and shaped by their broader relationships with the Russian state. I approach the process of adjusting consumption practices as an entry point to explore how the new middle classes relate to, imagine, and position themselves vis-à-vis the state.

The fieldwork is conducted in two Russian cities - Moscow and Smolensk. The data are gathered through in-depth interviews with the representatives of the new middle classes and the participants of relevant industries, participant observation, analysis of state and media discourses, and study of other sources (statistics and policy documents).

Hard Facts

Project Duration: February 2018–January 2019

Funding: Marietta Blau Fellowship (ÖAD)

Project by: Volha Biziukova

Supervisor: Ayse Caglar

Translating difference as culture? Care for elderly Turkish migrants in Vienna and Amsterdam

Immigrants are expected to compose an increasingly large part of the ageing population in Europe. Calls from different points in society are made about creating a higher awareness and sensitivity related to cultural differences among those who need care. Accommodating ‘difference’, such as shared culture of groups, within frameworks of universal legal, political and social rights are a complex matter, which needs a mindful consideration. Nevertheless, ideas about health, illness and appropriate care are clearly differently constructed by different social actors, and therefore the services sector is confronted with an increasing variety of illness interpretations and challenged in its capacity to cope with the diversity of the population. This research project aims to explore the ways in which difference is translated as culture by investigating the interactions between first-generation Turkish migrants and the caregivers they meet when the need for care arises. The location for the research will be in two European contexts: Vienna and Amsterdam. Both cities have a large population of Turkish migrants who first came to the countries as guest workers and are now reaching the ‘old age’. Through ethnographic research in health care settings where encounters between elderly migrants and care providers commence, this project tries to unravel the subtle, complex processes of translation in care.

Hard Facts

Project Duration: Oktober 2017 - Oktober 2020

Funding: uni:docs (Universität Wien)

Project by: Brigitte Möller

Supervisor: Tatjana Thelen


Optimization of the Emotional Self – in the Digital Age

Digital technology and smartphones, in particular, are becoming increasingly embodied and interlinked with the very core of the person we construct online and offline. Particularly, young people - the so called generation of “digital natives” - are frequently portrayed as a symbol of a new anthropological subject, usually at the extreme ends of either digital political activism or narcissism.

How do we take a more nuanced anthropological approach and avoid separating the digital from the social, cultural and political? How do we read between the lines of the seemingly power- and ideology-free technology, becoming an invisible and intransparent part of everyday life? And what are the ways in which we construct personhood and “optimize” ourselves as “neoliberal” subjects negotiating digital media narratives and dynamics?

Given the complexity of technological infrastructure, as well as the increasingly intricate usage of big data in conjunction with psychological expertise, an interdisciplinary approach was selected. In this project, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Cognitive Science and Media Informatics are joining efforts in order to understand the multiple layers of the interplay between social, cultural and psychological actors – and the digital, framed as an extended social space of practice. The research includes an ethnographic and a phenomenological study among groups of adolescents in Vienna, as well as a digital project in co-creation with the youth.

Hard Facts

Project Duration: September 2017 - September 2020

Funding: DOC-team – Austrian Academy of Sciences

Project from: Suzana Jovicic

Supervisors: Univ.-Doz. Dr. Marie-France Chevron (Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Vienna), Prof. Dr. Thomas Stodulka (Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Freie University Berlin)

Website: homepage.univie.ac.at/a0605314/wordpress/


Dressing for Utopia Fashion and the Performance of Citizenship in Turkey (1923-2018)

Citizenship is regulated not only by law but also, perhaps more forcefully, through embodied performances. As a temporally defined and continuously changing set of practices that produce affect and knowledge in and through bodies, fashion plays a key role in the performance of citizenship. As a mode of embodied historiography, fashion also reproduces or challenges specific formulations of national history, and shapes individuals’ desires and imaginations for the future. Analyzing the nation-state as a utopian paradigm, this book demonstrates how desires for the Turkey’s future and gendered definitions of the ideal citizen have proliferated and transformed throughout the republican history of the country. Building on multi-sited ethnographic and archival research conducted in Turkey, Austria, Italy, and the United States, the project reveals the crucial role fashion has played in regulating the politics of subjectivity and belonging. To gain insight into these processes, I examine a diverse array of mediatized and live performances, including Cold War diplomatic fashion shows Turkey organized in Europe and the United States, Islamic theatre and fashion magazines of the 1960s, historical dramas, and contemporary digital practices such as secular nationalist bondage and fetish websites and erotic Islamic evangelical talk shows.

The detailed case studies of mediatized and live performances in Dressing for Utopia reveal that because normative gender and sexual identification and presentation have always been central to the regulation of national belonging in Turkey, the failure to invest in the hegemonic formulations of desirable citizenship often implies a conflict with the dominant modes of embodiment and subjectivity. This research thus reveals how “failed” citizenship can produce queer affects and identifications in ostensibly heterosexual and cisgender bodies, and how such experiences inspire alternative visions for the national and broader future.

Hard Facts

Project duration: September 2017 – May 2019

Funding: Ernst Mach Grant (ÖAD)

Project by: Rustem Ertug Altinay

Supervisor: Ayse Caglar


Auflösungsprozesse von Verwandtschaftsbeziehungen im nördlichen Tansania

Trennung, Ausgrenzung oder gar die Auflösung von Verwandtschaftsbeziehungen passen nicht in allgemeine Vorstellungen afrikanischer Verwandtschaftsverhältnisse. Diese werden häufig in Form von generationenübergreifender Reziprozität auf der einen oder sogenannter „Vetternwirtschaft” auf der anderen Seite dargestellt. Beiden Bildern wohnt die Vorstellung einer Omnipräsenz von Verwandtschaft in Afrika inne. Da Verwandtschaft aber auch im afrikanischen Kontext gleichermaßen von Inklusion und Solidarität wie von Ausgrenzung, Diskriminierung und Konkurrenz geprägt ist, widmet sich das Dissertationsprojekt Auflösungsprozessen von Verwandtschaftsbeziehungen im ländlichen Tansania. Denn obwohl in den letzten Jahren mehrfach auf die Notwendigkeit verwiesen wurde, Verwandtschaftsauflösungen ebenfalls in den Blick zu nehmen und über Prozesse des undoing kinship nachzudenken, ist dies noch nicht systematisch angewendet worden. Der zentrale Fokus des Forschungsprojektes richtet sich auf Prozesse von Verwandtschaftsauflösungen, die sich auf einer alltagspraktischen Ebene vollziehen, und fragt, wie diese Prozesse mit anderen gesellschaftlichen Entwicklungen verbunden sind. Der Blick auf die entgegengesetzten Prozesse des Verwandtmachens kann so nicht nur neue Erkenntnisse über die zugrundeliegenden Prozesse von Verwandtschaft und den Einfluss von politischen und ökonomischen Prozessen auf diese bringen, sondern auch die Rückwirkungen verwandtschaftsauflösender Prozesse auf gesellschaftlichen Wandel aufzeigen.

Hard Facts

Projektdauer: März 2017 – Februar 2021

Finanzierung: Universität Wien

Projekt von: Nina Haberland

Betreuerin: Tatjana Thelen


Households at the Dawn of the Bronze Age – Contextualizing Local Social Organization in the Eastern Mediterranean from Anthropological Perspectives

Sabina Cveček’s PhD project focuses on studying households as a primary source for discussing the emergence of social structures in Early Bronze Age (3 rd Millennium BC), underlining the importance of bottom-up studies for classifying and studying prehistoric societies. The planned dissertation project deals with households and household activities, the social structure, and the settlement organization within the geographic frame of the Aegean and Western Anatolia, namely at the site of Çukuriçi Höyük (Turkey) and Platia Magoula Zarkou (Greece). These sets of topics will be addressed through the applicant’s own investigations, but also by research cooperation between two archaeologists, one archaeozoologist and one anthropologist, thus linking both humanities and natural sciences.

Within this dissertation project, focused on households and domestic mode and specialization of craft production within a settlement (e.g. textile production, metal processing), information about “everyday” life in the Early Bronze Age Aegean and Western Anatolia will be investigated. The main question to be answered is about the social organization of Early Bronze Age societies (i.e. pre-scriptural and pre- state), more precisely in how far there was some hierarchical social differentiation comprehensible within these societies or whether these societies were organized in a more egalitarian fashion. Further questions concern possible processes of proto- urbanization within the chronological frame and beyond, and if the social structure of Bronze Age differed from earlier periods, like the Neolithic or Late Chalcolithic in the region.


Daheimgeblieben. Männer, Kinder und Alte im Kontext weiblicher Arbeitsmigration in der Westukraine.

Seit den beginnenden 2000er Jahren verlassen im Zuge zunehmender Armut und Arbeitslosigkeit im Zusammenhang mit einer vermeintlichen „Care-Krise“ im Westen immer mehr Frauen aus ländlichen Gebieten die Westukraine, um als Pflegekräfte und Haushaltshelferinnen in Mittel- und Südeuropa zu arbeiten und so zum Lebensunterhalt ihrer Familien beizutragen. Ihre Kinder und Familien lassen sie dabei häufig in der Ukraine zurück. Während die Situation von Arbeitsmigrantinnen in den Empfängerländern und deren Bemühungen, transnationale Care-Beziehungen mittels unterschiedlicher Formen des Austausches aufrecht zu erhalten, ethnografisch relativ gut erforscht sind, wissen wir bislang noch sehr wenig darüber, wie sich die (Arbeits)-Migration von Frauen und ihre Abwesenheit in ihren Rollen als Mütter, Ehefrauen und Töchter auf die daheimgebliebenen Familienangehörigen auswirken. Aufbauend auf anthropologischen Ansätzen im Schnittfeld von Care, Kinship und Gender steht daher die ethnografische Untersuchung der Situation der daheimgebliebenen Väter, Kinder und Großeltern, deren Beziehungen zu den emigrierten Frauen und den Effekten der Emigration von Frauen und deren (neue) Rolle als Versorgerinnen ihrer Familien auf Care-Praktiken, lokale Vorstellungen von Verwandtschaft und Familie, Geschlechterverantwortlich-keiten und Zugehörigkeiten im Mittelpunkt meines Dissertationsvorhabens.

Hard Facts

Projektdauer: März 2016 - Februar 2019

Finanzierung: Fonds zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF)

Projekt von: Ilona Grabmaier

Betreuerin: Tatjana Thelen


Politics of Silence: Unraveling Neoliberal Governmentality and Voices of Dissent in an Urban Renewal Project in Eskişehir, Turkey

Why do some urban projects across the globe trigger resistance movements while others do not? To answer this question, my ethnographic study scrutinizes The Risk Zone Urban Renewal Project in the city center of Eskişehir, Turkey, where political voices and legal claims were once vocal. I study influences of neoliberal techniques of governance and calls of state of emergency on populations. In particular, I study the continuing policy-making and planning process of the Risk Zone Project within which narratives of emergency and earthquake risks have been doubled with participatory planning and social democracy. The planning stages of the project have been secretive, renewal policies have been uncertain, and the local population will need to make payments of undetermined amounts, facing risks of dispossession and displacement. Although there were lawsuits against the same municipality’s renewal initiatives on the same zone previously, the Risk Zone Project has neither inspired collective movements nor legal claims. By conducting participant observation and in-depth interviews and mapping the zone geographically, I trace the heterogeneity of the local population and variations of positionalities in order to deconstruct a “silent mass”. I explore various forms of dissent, unease, and anxieties to ask whether local forms of contestation and spaces for voices are emerging that are different from classic social movements.

Hard Facts

Project Duration: January 2016 - March 2020

Funding: uni:docs (Universität Wien) & Marietta Blau Fellowship (ÖAD)

Project by: Cansu Civelek

Supervisor: Ayse Caglar