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Comics and migration. belonging, narration, activism
is a three-year project funded by the Kone foundation. The project started in the beginning of year 2018. 

The project both studies the narrative means used in comics addressing migration and produces and brings forth comics with migration as the main theme. 

Both researchers and comics artists are represented in the project group. On the one hand, the analysis of comics and narration done by the researchers is illuminated by the artist’s view provided by the comics artists, and, on the other hand, the research on artistic practices informs the artists’ understanding of their work and, perhaps, brings out new forms of work and narrative practices.

The seven project members are Warda Ahmed, Ralf Kauranen, Olli Löytty, Aura Nikkilä, Hannele Richert, Johanna Rojola and Anna Vuorinne.


Comics artist, teacher and activist Warda Ahmed wants to change the world with the help of comics. Ahmed counts identity, equality and non-discrimination within her most important subjects.

She has kept a comics blog called Onttokallo since 2008 and her comics have been published in anthologies, magazines and newspapers. Ahmed is interested in the multilayered narration of comics. She is an unwavering supporter of black-and-white comics.

In the project, Ahmed studies the nomad identity by interviewing her relatives living in locations all over the world and by telling the migration stories of her family in comics. 
Ralf Kauranen is a sociologist and comics scholar. In his studies he has discussed, for example, the cultural politics of comics, the transnationalism and multilingualism of comics, propaganda in comics during WWII, and the representations of the Finnish civil war in comics. 

Ralf’s mother tongue is Swedish and father tongue Finnish. Most likely he would not have become a comics researcher, had his coming of age not happened at the same time as the Finnish and Swedish comics cultures grew up in the 1980s.

Kauranen’s studies in the current project concern, for example, comics activism and the work in comics workshops as well as stereotypes in comics.
Literature and cultural researcher Olli Löytty has always been interested in the relations between place and identity. Born in Namibia but a resident of one and the same house in Tampere for the last 30 years, he dreams of traveling to Tromsø

In his studies he has analyzed the multilingualism and -culturalism of Finnish literature and studied ethnic stereotypes in comics. His childhood reading experiences taught him to think that comics expand one’s world view and are also a way to improve the world.

In his studies in the project, Löytty focuses on, among other things, multilingualism and the expressions of feelings of estrangement in comics dealing with migration.
Aura Nikkilä is a PhD student in the department of Art History at the University of Turku. In her master’s thesis, which she completed in 2016, Nikkilä analyzed the transnational elements in Ville Tietäväinen’s graphic novel Näkymättömät kädet. 

In addition to comics studies, Nikkilä has a background in photographic theory. In her youth, Nikkilä used to draw comics herself but nowadays she sticks to just reading and researching them.

In the project, Nikkilä works on her doctoral thesis, in which she focuses on the use of photographs in contemporary comics on migration.
Hannele Richert draws comics, writes about comics, translates comics and works in comics education, in other words is obsessed about the field. Also interested in multilingualism, global equality and overlapping personal cultures. 

She has studies in art but a masters degree in Hungarian language and literature. Her parents migrated to Southern Finland from Germany and Eastern Finland. Hannele Richert lives in Helsinki with her family but feels forever connected to her hometown of Kerava.

Richert is responsible for the publication of comics and the moderation of the project home page. The aim is to provide a polyphonic and multilingual dialogue on the multifaceted phenomenon of comics and migration.
Johanna “Roju” Rojola is a comics artist and an activist. Her roots are nowhere, or everywhere (?). She studied art and graphic design and graduated from comic art. She has been working in a variety of roles within the field of comics for the whole of her career. She was nominated as Comics Councillor by the Finnish Comics Society in 2016.

Rojola’s tasks in the project consist of the coordination of the comics workshops produced by World Comics Finland, as well as the production of a data bank on different forms of work in comics workshops and activism. She also continues her work in experimental comics workshopping.
Anna Vuorinne is a PhD student in the department of Comparative Literature at the University of Turku. In her previous work she has studied the questions of identity and subjectivity and the possibilities of feminist critique in autobiographical comics.

Vuorinne is particularly interested in contemporary German comics. In 2014 she worked at the comics library Renate in Berlin and got familiar with the German field of comics on a practical level. She feels passionate about zines but her guilty pleasure is Tintin.

In the project, Vuorinne is working on her doctoral thesis, which is focused on representations of migration in contemporary German comics, particularly from the perspective of narrative ethics.
℅ Ralf Kauranen, Kotimainen kirjallisus, 20014 Turun yliopisto
℅ Ralf Kauranen Department of Finnish Literature, FI-20014 University of Turku, Finland
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