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Choreographies of Resistance

Mobile Bodies and Relational Politics

Tarja Väyrynen; Eeva Puumala; Samu Pehkonen; Anitta Kynsilehto and Tiina Vaittinen

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Choreographies of Resistance examines bodies and their capacity for obstructive and resistant action in places and spaces where we do not expect to see it. Drawing on empirical research that considers cases on asylum seekers, beggars, undocumented migrants and migrant nurses, the book attests to the scope and diversity of corporeal resistance in the realm of politics. It is shown that bodies that are not assumed to have political agency can obstruct and resist the smooth functioning of disciplinary practices that nowadays form the core of migration policies. It is argued that the body is more than a mere target of politics. In so doing, the book contributes to the study of the political significance of movement, mobility and the nonverbal. The body opens up a space of political resistance and action. The resistant body poses a challenge that is both praxical and philosophical: it ultimately invites us to reconsider the meanings and content of political space, community and belonging.. « less more »
Rowman & Littlefield International
Pages: 134Size: 6 x 9
978-1-78348-672-4 • Hardback • December 2016 • $120.00 • (£80.00)
978-1-78348-673-1 • Paperback • December 2016 • $39.95 • (£24.95)
978-1-78348-674-8 • eBook • December 2016 • $38.99 • (£24.95)
Tarja Väyrynen is Professor of Peace and Conflict Research at the Tampere Peace Research Institute, University of Tampere, Finland. She is author of Culture and International Conflict Resolution and many articles and book chapters, including those published in the Review of International Studies, Alternatives: Local, Global, Political, International Journal of Conflict Resolution and Engagement and International Feminist Journal of Politics. She was the Head Researcher on the Academy of Finland funded research project ‘The Body Politic of Migration - Embodied and Silent Choreographies of Political Agency’.

Eeva Puumala is an Academy of Finland postdoctoral researcher at the Tampere Peace Research Institute in the University of Tampere. She is author of Asylum seekers, Sovereignty and the Senses of the International: A Politico-Corporeal Struggle (Routledge, 2016). Her research has been published for instance in Review of International Studies, International Political Sociology, Alternatives: Local, Global, Political and European Journal of Cultural Studies.

Samu Pehkonen is a postdoctoral researcher affiliated with the University of Oulu and the Tampere Peace Research Institute in the University of Tampere. He has published his research in Journal of Contemporary Ethnography, International Political Sociology and Body & Society.

Anitta Kynsilehto is Academy of Finland Postdoctoral Fellow at the Tampere Peace Research Institute in the University of Tampere. Her work has appeared in Environment and Planning A, International Studies Perspectives and European Journal of Cultural Studies, and she has contributed book chapters for several academic monographs.

Tiina Vaittinen is a researcher and a PhD candidate at the Tampere Peace Research Institute, University of Tampere, Finland. She has published her research in International Feminist Journal of Politics, Women’s Studies International Forum and Global Society
1. Introduction: Choreography, Mobility and Politics / 2. Exploring Choreographies of Resistance / 3. Postcolonial Space and Entangled Corporeal Choreographies / 4. Liminal Space of Relationality and Disturbance / 5. Urban Space of Mundane Interaction / 6. Conclusions: Unfolding into the Future
In its close attention to the roles of bodies and events, the project is commendable for both scope and originality, and for the lines of novel scholarship that it opens…. Choreographies of Resistance offers a valuable contribution to critical scholarship.
Antipode: A Radical Journal of Geography


Politics is enacted corporeally. As a result, everyday acts and mundane encounters become important for understanding how migrants obstruct, redirect, and disrupt the functioning of the laws, policies, agencies, and authorities that attempt to govern their lives. By demonstrating how the performance of political subjectivity is achieved through bodily movements, Choreographies of Resistance makes a highly original contribution to the growing literature on the political agency of migrants and refugees. It leaves one wondering why choreography (with its emphasis on space, movement, and relationality) hasn’t already been applied as an analytic to study the politics of mobility.
Peter Nyers, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, McMaster University


By developing the notion of mobility as choreography, this book offers a truly original take on the governance of migration in Europe. It is particularly powerful in its reconceptualisation of governance and resistance through an ontology of mobility. Starting with bodies as relational, mobile and multiple rather than preconstituted individuals, the book brings to light the disruptive and political potential of bodies in situations seemingly overdetermined by their regulation.
Leonie Ansems de Vries, Lecturer in International Relations, Department of War Studies, King's College London


Choreographies of Resistance enlivens worlds of resistance in the mundane and miniscule moments and events through which asylum seekers, migrant workers and Roma beggars encounter and navigate the everyday in Finland. The authors show how agency manifests in bodies, without intentionality, but in ways that disturb the smooth functioning of governance. This eloquent volume reconsiders power, agency and resistance in relational terms and takes its place among emerging work that pioneers new materialist approaches to Citizenship and Border Studies. For those of us struggling to understand whether and how violent border regimes will come undone, Choreographies of Resistance provides a provocative and challenging account of the political in small things.
Anne McNevin, Associate Professor of Politics, The New School, New York


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