15 Aug 2016

Summer in Jyväskylä

James Simpson from University of Leeds visited Jyväskylä in the summer of 2016.

In summer 2016 I was invited to the University of Jyväskylä as part of the University’s profiling project, Applied Language Studies for the Changing Society. I worked closely with a number of colleagues, and in particular Professor Sari Pöyhönen. The visit to Jyväskylä afforded me the time and space to work on collaborative research and writing projects and to develop and extend links with colleagues. I also supported Jyväskylä PhD students with their theses and post-doctoral researchers with their publications and research grant bids.


Part of my work involved collaborating with Sari on two of her current projects, allowing me insights that I otherwise would not have gained. The first, funded by the Swedish Cultural Foundation, documents the narratives of refugees as they progress through the process of arrival, asylum application and later settlement or detention pending removal. I visited a home for refugee children, and took part in interviews with families at different stages in their asylum processes. The visit and the interviews gave me the opportunity to reflect upon the differing experiences of asylum in Finland and in the UK. The second was an Academy of Finland-funded documentary theatre project in collaboration with the Finnish National Theatre, Toinen Koti. Its themes of home and integration align with many emergent topics within my own work on the AHRC-funded TLang project (see, for example, the working papers series and the related Connected Communities project Migration and Home: Welcome in Utopia; see also my blog post about this project). I was lucky enough to take part in the interviews, extending my understanding of participatory research and also of research work carried out in collaboration with creative practitioners.


When I first arrived in Finland I wrote about my first impressions on the TLang blog. Even then I knew would be a very happy, productive time. So it has turned out to be. I am grateful to the University for this opportunity and for their generous welcome.

James Simpson

About the author

James Simpson

Senior Lecturer, University of Leeds