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Application for the International PhD course “Queer/ing Kinship” at the Helsinki University in December 2018.


SKY doctoral course:

 Queer/ing Kinship (5 ECTs)

University of Helsinki, 3-4 December 2018


Visiting course lecturers:

Dr. Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen (University of Stavanger, Norway)

Dr. Thomas Strong (Maynooth University, Ireland)


Course organizer (PI):

Dr. Antu Sorainen (University of Helsinki, Finland)


Course introduction:

This PhD course concentrates on the ongoing work of the participating PhD students on kinship, care and support networks located at sexual and gendered margins. The experienced lecturers have the aim of helping the PhD students to advance and complete their dissertation projects with the highest international quality.

The course literature comprises scholarship ranging from feminist and anthropological theory to queer studies on kinship and relatedness to the politics and legal constellations of family, kinship and care relations.

The course focuses on developing PhD student projects, where all of the projects cluster around a set of themes related to contemporary discussion of kinship/relationality and various axes of inequality or marginalisation (in particular, sexuality and gender).

The expertise of the three lecturers is in a wide area of kinship, relatedness, gender studies, queer theory and ethnography. All three have conducted original empirical research on alternative kinship and care relations, published widely in this area, and contributed towards re-invigorating contemporary ethnographic and methodological approaches.

The lecturers are prepared to comment on empirical, methodological and/or theoretical aspects of PhD research papers and students’ original research or fieldwork. However, theoretical projects that comment on the existing work of various scholars that intersect with gender studies, queer theory and kinship politics are also very welcome.

The course includes the public lecture by Dr. Thomas Strong:

“Errors in Kinship: Witches, Queers”.

(see more here)

The course is organized by the University of Helsinki Doctoral Programme for Gender, Culture, and Society (SKY) together with the two Academy of Finland projects CoreKin – Contrasting and Re-Imagining the Margins of Kinship and Wills and Inheritance in Sexually Marginalised Groups.

The course is open for all SKY students, other Helsinki University PhD students and for students of other Finnish universities and all universities abroad.


Course Teachers:

Elisabeth Lund Engebretsen is an Associate Professor of Gender Studies, University of Stavanger, Norway. Engebretsen holds a PhD in Anthropology from the London School of Economics (2008). Among her publications are Queer Women in Urban China: An Ethnography (2014), and the co-edited special issue of Sexualities on “Anthropology’s queer sensibilities” (2017). She has conducted extensive ethnographic fieldwork in China on queer kinship, family strategies, identity and activism, and has current research interests in Norwegian queer history, transnational Pride activism, feminist ethnography and methodology, and radical solidarity work. Engebretsen heads the 2-year workshop project Transforming Identities: Exploring changes, tensions, and visions in the Nordic region through the prism of identity politics (2018-2020).

 Thomas Strong teaches in the Department of Anthropology at Maynooth University (Ireland). He was educated at Reed College (BA) and Princeton University (PhD), and taught at the University of Helsinki in 2006-08. He has published essays on the symbolism and sociality of blood supplies, queer theory and the anthropology of kinship, and problematics of modernity in Papua New Guinea, among other topics. Currently, he is preparing a book manuscript provisionally entitled “Blood to Blood: Witchcraft and the Violence of Kinship in Papua New Guinea,” based on long-term fieldwork in the Asaro Valley that he began in 1998. He has been an AIDS activist since 1992.

Antu Sorainen is an Academy Fellow at the Academy of Finland and Docent in Gender Studies at the University of Helsinki. She has conducted empirical studies in the area of queer will-writing and relatedness, and published work on law and queer sexualities. She is the co-author of Siveellisyydesteksuaalisuuteen with Tuija Pulkkinen and has published recently on inheritance arrangements in queer communities. She is Academy of Finland Research Fellow for a project entitled: “Wills and Inheritance in Sexually Marginalised Groups” (2014-2019), and the director of the research project “CoreKin – Contrasting and Re-Imagining the Margins of Kinship” (2016-2020).


Course structure and requirements:

1. Prior to course-start:

A) Submitting a 2-page description of the dissertation project (a project abstract of 300-400 words and the table of contents), and a research paper of 10–12 pages (part of the dissertation project).

B) Reading of pre-assigned literature and the other PhD students’ pre-delivered materials: course reading list and full student papers will be sent to the participants after 23th November, after the applications have been decided on.

2. During the course:

A) Attending the full 2-day workshop on 3-4 December 2018. Attendance involves the following activities: Commenting on the projects and papers of the other students, and discussing one’s own project with the teachers and co-students.

B) Attending Dr. Thomas Strong’s public lecture “Errors in Kinship: Witches, Queers” on Tuesday 4th December 2018, 4–6pm. Course students are expected to take actively part in the discussion after the lecture.


Application procedure and deadlines (


Apply with a max 150-word abstract of the paper by

Friday 9th November 2018.

Applicants will be informed by the outcome by email no later than

Friday 16th November 2018.

Deadline for submitting papers is Friday 23th November 2018.

NB! A number of foreign students would be accepted on the roll basis if they need more time to arrange their travel/grant.

Maximum number of students accepted for the course is 10.

Course event on Facebook

CoreKin website

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