Project manager: senior researcher Aivita Putniņa, PhD

Teaching staff and students of the Department of Anthropology Studies participating in the project: Dr. Gareth Hamilton, Dr. Ilze Mileiko, Dr. Zane Linde-Ozola, Artūrs Pokšāns, Kārlis Lakševics, Kristians Zalāns, Māra Neikena, Kate Dudure, as well as students of anthropology programmes invited to participate to complete their Practical Research course and final theses.

Within the framework of the project, we study violence and its prevention in Latvia at several levels, based on an anthropological approach and field work, based on ethnography, supplementing the research with quantitative research methods. Violence manifests itself in human relationships and their research provides the most accurate means for both understanding the mechanisms of violence and discovering the mechanisms for its prevention. We analyse the impact of social relations and media on the family and community, policies, affective and emotional manifestations of violence, materiality of violence, manifestations in the digital environment, and other processes that can be highlighted in ethnographic research. In this project, we also cooperate with other stakeholders (ministries, NGOs, municipalities, etc.), offer recommendations for the prevention of violence and evaluate violence prevention programmes, thus bridging the gap between applied and theoretical research.

Research reports

2019

1. "Vardarbība pret sievietēm un bērniem Latvijā 2019''. Pārskats par statistiku un publiski pieejamajiem kvantitatīvajiem datiem

2. "Vardarbības novēršanas politika Latvijā". Analītisks pārskats 

3. "Latvijas jauniešu kiberņirgāšanās: pieredzes un skatījumi". Infografika – pētījuma ziņojuma kopsavilkums

4. ''Youth perspectives on cyberbullying in Latvia''. Full research report

2020

5. Latvijas Universitātes 77. starptautiskās zinātniskās konferences Humanitāro zinātņu fakultātes, Antropoloģijas studiju nodaļas "Tolerance darbībā, sajūtās un domāšanā" prezentācijas.

6. "Stiprinot ģimenes, kopienas un attiecības: antropoloģiska pieeja vardarbības izpētē". Kvantitatīva aptauja.

7. "Covid-19 crisis, care and responsibility in Latvia". Full research report 

8. "Covid-19 krīze, rūpes un atbildība Latvijā''. Infografika – pētījuma ziņojuma kopsavilkums

9. ''Vardarbība pret sievietēm un bērniem Latvijā 2020''. Pārskats par statistiku un publiski pieejamajiem kvantitatīvajiem datiem

2021

10. Jauniešu programmas ''Drosme rūpēties! Vardarbības prevencija jauniešu vidū'' izvērtējums 

Conference Towards a non-violent anthropology abstracts

Aivita Putniņa, PhD, University of Latvia

Methods of raising children in Latvia 

This presentation is based on interview material and quantitative survey data collected during the project “Strengthening families, communities and relationships: anthropological perspectives on Violence”. The connection between children and parents is one of the closest in a person's life, but its practical formation does not take place naturally and is influenced by both socio-economic and personal factors. Ideas on hierarchical child-parent relations, which are formed from the positions of parental authority, are still popular in Latvia. Such relationships are most often formed through physical, emotional and economic violence. In recent decades, money has been used as an intermediary in child-parent relations allowing these asymmetric parent-child relationships to be sustained. If work was one of the main values in the upbringing of previous generations, then with changes in welfare, economic structure and labor market, child labor has lost its importance as a component of upbringing and remains only in certain niches. As an alternative approach to hierarchical relationships, parental example is used, which often means a simple coexistence of parents and children, but intensive relationships are maintained by an equal dialogue between children and parents. The data show that parents lack dialogue skills, especially when the child reaches adolescence. 

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Māra Neikena, University of Latvia

Non violence, socialization and identity: qualitative and quantitative data review

In this article I will summarize and identify the violence prevention mechanisms employed by families and institutions that could be observed and uncovered in the recent research on violence in Latvia. Ideas about violence prevention reveal how relationships are imagined. This article is based on qualitative data gained in the project “Strengthening families, communities and relationships: anthropological perspectives on Violence” and it is compared to the quantitative data provided by state institutions (e.g. State Inspectorate for Protection of Children’s Rights, Latvian Safer Internet Centre and others). The topic of violence is studied from different perspectives and the applied methodologies vary among disciplines and institutions, however anthropology as a discipline with an emphasis on the close communication with research participants has the potential to visualize the more abstract quantitative representation of data which is crucial in communicating the issue to a broader audience.

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Zane Linde-Ozola, PhD, University of Latvia

Seeking non-violence: practices of care and commitment to the welfare of other in Latvia 

The concept of care has emerged to analyse kinship, work practices, life course (Alber and Drotbohm, 2015). The notion has also been mobilised to criticize neoliberalization, migration policies, and social inequalities (Thelan, 2021). However, anthropologists are calling for attention to move beyond taken-for-granted assumptions about what care is and how it should be provided and pay detailed ethnographic attention how care varies in different contexts and the diversity of experiences and transformations it produces. Based on the qualitative data in the project “Strengthening families, communities and relationships: anthropological perspectives on violence”, this presentation explores how care is practised, structured, and imagined in community settings.

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Artūrs Pokšāns, University of Tartu, University of Latvia

Autoethnographical healing: anthropological methods for living the aftermath of violence

In line with a larger movement towards decolonisation there has been an increased focus on how anthropology as a discipline can help to overcome the division between the researcher and the Other (Escobar & Ribeiro2006; Restrepo 2011). Following the crisis of representation in the 1980s autoethnography, has emerged as one of the ways how researchers have tried to overcome this division (Butz and Besio 2009). In my presentation I connect the practice of autoethnography to overcoming what Henze-Pedersen calls the lived experience of violence after the act (Henze-Pedersen 2021). By reflecting on my experience with applying autoethnographical methods in my doctoral thesis research, I argue that by embracing the potentially transformative nature of reflection and witnessing (Binford, 2004), anthropology may work towards overcoming the violence that sometimes colours the life of anthropologists themselves. I also discuss the possible implications of introducing autoethnographical approaches in the curricula and how it may help to support students in dealing with their past experiences.

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Emmanuel Uchenna Chidozie, Leuven University

Towards a non-violent Anthropology: Evidence from the International Christian Centre, Nigeria

Terrorism associated with Boko Haram have contributed immensely to the destruction of human lives, livelihoods, and property in Nigeria in recent years (Aghedo 2017). This has led to the provision of internal displacements across the country and in Edo-State in particular. This paper examines how the researched, and the researcher responded to the challenges posed by the violence of Boko Haram at the International Christian Centre. Building on Bowlby (1969) theory of attachment, this paper portrays how the discourses about Boko Haram can serve as templates through which salient theme of Christian practices (such as prayers, fasting, suffering) can be mobilized in peacebuilding (Robbins 2004; Cannell 2006; Marshall 2009; Meyers 2010). Relying on participant observation and direct interviews with IDPs at the Christian Centre, this article argues that the analysis of Christian practices underscores how the cultivation of a particular moral and spiritual self can be harnessed by anthropologists and their participants as concrete pathways of nonviolence (Bandak, 2017; Woon 2017). As against the exclusive implication of Christian practices in several layers of violence, this research pays attention to the ways these Christian practices operate and interact with various aspects of human experiences at the individual and collective levels at the centre. In doing so, this work aims at gaining a more nuanced understanding of the roles of Christian practices that will be sensitive, sympathetic as well as expanding the claims of nonviolence.

Key words: Non-violence, International Christian Centre, Christian Practices, Boko Haram

Knut Graw, PhD, Leuven University

Anthropology's Violence: Notes from Nonviolent Communication

The question whether anthropology possesses or perpetuates certain forms of non-physical violence causes a certain discomfort. A discomfort that originates in the fact that the question of anthropology's violence forces us to consider something in our practice which most anthroplogist would deny they or their discipline are doing, that is, exposing others to a certain kind of violence which, albeit not physical, may be undermining our intentions and self-image of contributing to a humanist practice of cultural translation and social connection.

This discomfort is enhanced by at least two factors: First, by the fact that the exertion of violence may be difficult to deny in view of both  anthropology's colonial history and the continous assymetry between observer and observed. And second, because if we decide to acknowledge the critique, we are forced to think about measures and changes to achieve something we may think we had already been doing.

Drawing on insights from the field of Nonviolent Communication and different ethnographic experiences, this paper approaches the question of what precisely could be perceived as violent in anthropology and why. It will examine  different aspects of violence in relation to both its field-, as well as its textual practice  and, last but not least, deal with the question whether this situation can be helped at all in the light of the fact that any notion of nonviolence seems inextricably predicated upon the very notion of violence it wants to avoid  or resist.

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Kārlis Lakševics, University of Latvia

Beyond ethnographic sentimentalism: situating care in anthropologies against violence

Recent events and movements around the world and in academia have challenged the ability of ethnographic sentimentalism (Jobson, 2020) or anthropology itself (Todd, 2020) to provide a guideline towards encountering, representing, taking down and healing from multiple forms of violence emerging in places anthropologists take as ‘the field’ as well as in the academia. As a response, many anthropologists have proposed alternatives that incorporate violence perpetuated in anthropology and in academia as a part of broader struggles. These have ranged from a call to move away from morally neutralized research (Wilkinson, Kleinman, 2016) to developing a caring and anti-violent stands, such as abolitionist (Shange, 2019) and fugitive anthropologies (Berry, Arguelles, Cordis, Ihmoud, Estrada, 2017), or positioning the researcher as an accomplice instead of an ally in political contexts (Gomberg-Munoz, 2018). Further, methods courses, faculty training, and fieldwork supervision meetings have started to develop training courses, guidelines, and handbooks for the prevention of sexual harassment (such as Hanson, Richards, 2019) as well as guidelines for inclusion and decolonization of the curriculum. In this paper, thus, I propose to bring anthropologists’ recent engagements with #metooanthro, #anthrosowhite and #precanthro together rethinking them as calls for intensifying anthropological research as a ‘radical praxis space’ (Escobar, 2018) of care that destabilizes the border between ‘the field’ and academia.

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Kristians Zalāns, University of Latvia

Similarities between anthropologist and pensioner: A non-violent anthropological practice as a question of precarity

I argue the question of how to attain a non-violent anthropological practice can be a question of how to lessen or end precarity for practicing anthropologists, as precarity can fuel circumstances in which there are limited resources available to address inequalities and tensions in teaching, doing research and working with colleagues (Casalini, 2019). Popular discourses on social sciences and social scientists in Latvia can be traced to post-Soviet and neo-liberal sentiments, positioning an anthropologist as a person of a relatively high social status, yet contributing to policy of offering anthropologists no, low, or irregular income. Discussing my experiences of this precarity within particular local projects to a largely Latvian audience would be problematic as I believe it would be impossible to fully anonymise people and institutions. Instead I propose sharing insights from research on experience of the Latvian elderly during the first wave of Covid-19 pandemic. While this research reveals the biopolitical (Foucault, 1976:137) imagination of the elderly and the ethical project (Muehlebach, 2012) of collectively defeating the Covid-19 pandemic and its flawed design, it also reveals the post-Soviet and neo-liberal discourses of the Latvian elderly that, similarly to popular discourses on social science, create and sustain policies which produce precarity.

Colloquium

The conference will conclude with a colloquium on ‘Academic work and activism’ which will encourage participants to share their experiences and suggestions regarding the extent to which anthropologists are capable of empowering research participants. It will consider such questions as what the potential to improve the situations of people studied is, especially when there are power imbalances. In which situations could active engagement, such as sharing expertise or any other type of support, be well employed? Anthropologists highly value the relationships they build with informants, but what are the limits of such relationships in light of, for example, the role and support of the institution that the anthropologist represents?