Exploring experiential political geographies with children and youth

How to unearth politics from other peoples lived worlds from their perspectives?

Dr. Kirsi Pauliina Kallio

Space and Political Agency Research Group (SPARG), University of Tampere
RELATE Centre of Excellence, Academy of Finland


How to study experiential political geographies? This is the methodological challenge that I have undertaken in my current research. It splits into two dilemmas: How to find out about other people’s ways of conceiving spatiality? and How to unearth politics from other people’s lived worlds from their perspectives? I see these as both empirical and analytical questions, and they need to be considered in concert to contribute to the overall methodological challenge. My work is led by two major theoretical perspectives.

First, I follow a topological understanding of spatiality. In a nutshell, this entails that certain kinds of spatial relations cannot be considered as natural or as more real than others, and that different kinds of spatial constellations exist concurrently in people’s lived worlds.

Second, I lean on a relational conception of politics where ‘the political’ refers to specific aspects of human life that get different meanings and forms in the communities and societies that people create, maintain and struggle over.

In this theoretical framework, I seek to study these experiential political geographies empirically. I have worked with some Finnish and English kids during the past couple of years using a method named MAPOLIS. In this talk, I will explain my research and the findings that I have made thus far, and invite the participants to engage with me in thinking about how to explore experiential political geographies.