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IRC Seminar: "Towards a shared city? – Inter-ethnic encounters in urban pub...

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Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Campus

Mary Burton Building

Room MBG.13

Edinburgh

EH14 4AS

United Kingdom

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Pia Olsson

Lecturer in European Ethnology

University of Helsinki

https://tuhat.helsinki.fi/portal/en/persons/pia-olsson(29346286-099d-47fb-84a7-69e17dafc54e).html

"Towards a shared city? – Inter-ethnic encounters in urban public space"

Researchers focusing on diversified societies have made visible such situations, where differences have lost some of their meaning as categories creating hierarchies in everyday social encounters. This phenomenon has been described as ‘indifference to difference’. Cultural or ethnic differences have not been dispelled, but instead, their meanings have changed so that the ethnic-national differences carry more heterogenous meanings in these contexts than connected with them earlier. (Valluvan 2016, 4, 8; Amin 2013, 4; Gilroy 2004.)

In my talk, I will present an ongoing project Shared city. The aim of this ethnographic project is to examine how public and semi-public spaces relate to the ways people in their everyday lives experience inter-ethnic encounters in urban settings. In our project, we focus on specific districts in the Metropolitan area of Helsinki, Finland. These areas present the demographic changes that have taken place in the major Finnish cities during the previous years i.e. the rapid expansion of ethnic and cultural diversity especially in the metropolitan area.

I will also discuss one of our key concepts in the project: the ‘cosmopolitan canopy’ created by American sociologist Elijah Anderson (2011). By this concept he refers to a semi-public urban space that encourages people to adopt a positive attitude towards one another in a way that reflects civility and tolerance, i.e. one form of perfoming indifference to difference.

Pia Olsson is University lecturer in European Ethnology at the University of Helsinki. She is interested in how people experience urban space and how they remember and articulate their lives in urban settings. She has also conducted ethnographic fieldwork to understand cultural encounters among youth. Her latest project ‘Shared city’ analyses the ways urban public and semi-public spaces affect interethnic encounters.

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Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Campus

Mary Burton Building

Room MBG.13

Edinburgh

EH14 4AS

United Kingdom

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