Identity Formation at the Margins

(Huom! Ryhmä kokoontuu torstaina 27.3.2008 klo 14.30-18.00, sekä perjantaina 28.3.2008 klo 15.00-18.00)

This session will explore the changing character of identity among ethnic groups in the
peripheries of dominant society, particularly indigenous peoples, immigrant groups, and
other post-colonial peoples. In their efforts to decolonize themselves, these groups
often undergo significant processes transformation that witnesses the emergence of new
forms of (often multiple and overlapping) identities through hybridity, conflict,
reflection, and structuration.

In political discourse, research and everyday life, ethnic groups are often regarded as
coherent and homogenous groups. Both outsiders and the groups themselves tend to
homogenize and essentialize ethnicity into oversimplified models and ideas of what
defines them. This symbolism is important for decolonization, for creating own images and concepts instead of those imposed from outside and for fostering the solidarity needed for political mobilization. Often this identity and all it entails must be recreated and
retold in order for the group to become recognized as legitimate entity, a people, and a
subject of the international political order. In doing so, patterns of mirroring or
replicating the structures and imagery of the dominant society are quite common.

Although political theorists have often foretold the end of sovereignty, the pull of
ethnic identity seems as strong as ever. How does the structure of the state and the
state system adapt to these new forms of ethnic expression? Can old ideas of national
sovereignty giving way to more flexible forms of global citizenship or other
alternatives? The inherent tensions in these processes are of particular interest. What
kinds of compromises are made? What fault lines emerge? Along what lines new social
movements organize themselves, and what kinds of tools and channels are used to project
and reinforce the nascent identities.  What significance or consequences do these
developments have on the one hand, to the individuals within these groups, and to
politics of the states that contain them on the other?

The session organizers are particularly interested in submission that bridge the
disciplines of political studies and sociology, and address these broad themes.
Submissions accepted in both Finnish and English.

Scott Forrest, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland (scott.forrest(at)
Sanna Valkonen, Arctic Centre, University of Lapland (sanna.valkonen(at)