What even is activism?

Merrian-Webster defines activism as “a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue” and Cambridge Dictionary says that activism is “the use of direct and noticeable action to achieve a result, usually a political or social one”. Hearing that definition, the image of activism becomes this enormous protest with a head figure sharing some inspiring words. Nonetheless, activism is exactly this, however, activism can also be on a more grassroots level. To practice activism and to achieve a social or political change can start from a simple hashtag.


activism on social media

The two social media personas Katri Norrlin and Nelli Kenttä discuss in their 2021 book” Vitun ruma” (a direct translation” Fucking Ugly”) both the highs and lows of the impact social media has. They emphasize how social media can negatively affect people’s perception of reality leading to decreased self-esteem. However, they also highlight the positive aspects of social media platforms, one of them being social media activism. Social media can provide a platform for communities to come together and support each other in a shared struggle. On the other hand, social media activism can also be criticized as lazy, performative and only done to chase clout. But this is not always the case, as we have seen with both the #meetoo movement and the #BLM, which grew tremendously online, proves that powerful social movements and activism can be done on social media. Additionally, as Tinksu Wessman, who is an activist, photographer and a current board member of Trans ry, says activism is still activism, regardless of if it happens on social media or on the barricades (Norrlin & Kenttä 2021: 51).


Social media does offer a truly great and wide platform where different kinds of activism against oppression and injustice can flourish and from there become something much bigger. Social media also provides a wide network, where you can reach individuals from all corners of the world. Sharing or posting a hashtag, picture or article can always have an impact, is it then that your problematic aunt reads it and starts thinking or that it sparks a new social movement. Thereupon, below readers can find a compiled list of influential Instagram pages to follow, where equality, anti-racism, justice and other empowering posts are shared.


@ghdhelsinki Good Hair Day is an anti-racist collective and community celebrating  Afro-Finns and afro hair

@antiracistforum Anti-Racist Forum is a non-governmental anti-racist organization working to fight for social justice, for instance through various events and workshops.

@finnishafricansociety Finnish-African Society ry was established in 1964 and its purpose is to promote the knowledge of African countries to supply information and to encourage support development, assistance in research on Africa in Finland

@think.africa_finland Think Africa’s mission is to make a social and economic impact by engaging, promoting, and empowering the African diaspora living in Finland as well as building effective collaboration between Finland and African countries.

@ruskeattytotmedia Ruskeat tytöt media is an independent online publication committed to centring and normalizing the perspectives of Brown women and people with underrepresented genders in Finnish and Nordic media

@laakarit.hibo.ibrahim Doctors Hibo A. & Ibrahim A shares their experiences as doctors working in Finland and the discrimination they face almost on a daily.

@noniinmagazine NO NIIN is an independent online monthly magazine at the cups of art, criticality and love

@samha_ry Samha ry is an NGO working with Substance Abuse and Mental Health

@mixed_in_america Mixed in America strives to empower mixed communities and mixed identities

@feminist Feminist is a community rooted in intersectional feminism

@hijabiluscious the account is run by Neda who is a hijabi wearing pole dancer

@nowhitesaviors No White Saviors is a community organisation working with the principle “If you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not listening”


This list is however not complete, and accounts can always be added. If any reader has additional suggestions on Instagram accounts that mainly use English and does activism that supports Intersectionality, Feminism, Anti-Racism, BIPOCLGBTQI+ and Inclusivity to mention a few, feel free to dm us on IG for them to be featured on this blog post.

Upcoming guest lectures

In the course Geography of Social Exclusion 2022, there will be some fascinating and intriguing guest lectures coming up next month, which will probably interest many. Hence, the Social Exclusion program is inviting any interested individuals to join the upcoming guest lectures.  Please send an email to socialex@abo.fi , to receive a zoom link for the seminars.


Check below to see the dates for the different guest lectures and a brief description of the course.


Course description

The concept of social exclusion is very difficult to define. It is a relatively new concept and it is very strongly connected with the national and regional social reality wherein border and boundaries play a great role in determining people’s wellbeing, existence and access. In the course borders will be interrogated in a different way both as a physical space and an ideological one. In geopolitics, they are fought for, guarded and crossed. Borders are thus understood as social constructions and a site of exclusion that articulate dominant ideas about ―who and what belongs in particular places and the kinds of activities and practices that belong to the place. Borders are fundamentally boundaries and they do not only shape national sovereignty but separate the everyday experiences of locales.  Boundaries and borders as tools of social exclusion wherein individuals and groups struggle in the experience of reality. The boundary between the excluded and non-excluded may be seen as more or less permeable, depending on how easy it is to cross it. The degree of permeability of a boundary depends on the way it is constructed, namely on the markers employed to define it.


List of the guest lectures

February 1st Borders created by beauty standards

Guest Lecturer: Jasmin Slimani, project assistant at ÅAU

The guest lecture will cover issues of how the beauty standards in Finland create borders for Afro-Finnish women. This lecture will be centred around Jasmin’s Master’s thesis: Mirror, mirror on the wall, why am I not the fairest of them all? – an Afrocentric approach to the lack of representation of Afro-Finnish women within the Finnish beauty standard.



February 7th Anti-Blackness in Egypt: Between Stereotypes and Ridicule

Guest lecturer:  Islam Bara’ah Sabry, project assistant at ÅAU

This Lecture will be centred around Islam’s Master’s thesis: Anti-Blackness in Egypt: Between Stereotypes and Ridicule: An Examination on the History of Colorism and the development of Anti-Blackness in Egypt.


February 8th Levantinism and Belonging

Guest lecturer: Sagy Watemberg, Izraeli PhD Candidate, Law and Study of Religions

Jacqueline Shohet Kahanoff was born in the cosmopolitan city of Cairo, Egypt, to an Iraqi Jewish father and Tunisian Jewish mother. As a child she attended the French Mission Laïque School alongside Muslim and Christian children, thus speaking mostly in French as well as in English with her British nanny rather than her native languages of Arabic or Hebrew. As an adult she lived in Paris, the United States, and eventually returned to the Middle East to Israel. Therefore, her own experiences of belonging and not belonging, the heart-aching search for a “home” among her mixed and often conflicting identities of “East” and “West”, of colonised and coloniser, of riffs between religious and national borders fracturing the Middle East, lead her to formulate the concept of “Levantinization”. We can uncover the concept of Levantinization as a strong and intricate tool for understanding complex societies and reconciling these “opposing” shards of ourselves and of society.


February 14th Settler colonial frontier-making between Silicon Valley and Palestine/Israel

Guest lecturer: Antti Tarvainen, Doctoral Student in Global Development Studies. Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies (Urbaria). Doctoral Program in Political, Soci­etal and Regional Change. Univeristy of Helsinki

This guest lecture will cover the concept of frontier (from settler colonial studies) and how it is useful in analyzing the racist and gendered state-making projects of innovation economy.


February 15th The exclusion and inclusion of Roma migrants in Helsinki from 2008-2016

Guest lecturer: Anca Enache, University of Helsinki.


February 21st Social exclusions in refugee contexts.

Guest lecturer: Eveliina Lyytinen, Migration Institute

This guest lecture will cover the following concepts: Welcomed to Finland as unaccompanied refugee minor / Unwelcomed by the state but welcomed by locals as an asylum-seeking man / Deported to Afghanistan and / Rewelcomed as an employer and a family member.


February 22nd Caste-anticaste and Social Exclusion of Muslims in India – by Dsilva Keshia

Guest Lecturer Dsilva Keshia, Doctoral student in the Doctoral Programme in Social Sciences. University of Helsink

This lecture will cover the following topics: An introduction to the caste system. Visual representations of gender and gender-based violence in the campaigns of gender organizations in India from an intersectional anti-casteist lens. India’s newly proposed citizenship act that seeks to deny citizenship to Muslims from India’s neighboring countries and also targets Muslims in India


February 28th Bridging the “us” and “them” silent borders in Finland

Guest lecture by Theresia Bilola, City of Turku

This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action and Do The Work”


“This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action and Do The Work”

Tiffany Jewell


A delightful book to start reading in 2022 is Tiffany Jewell’s book “This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 lessons on how to wake up, take action and do the work”. This easily readable book contains practical and helpful tools to understand structural racism, it is impact and how to dismantle it. The book is constructed by 20 chapters or lessons of becoming more aware, understanding oneself and aid change to take place. Each chapter also ends with some practical exercises to do and to help utilize the knowledge processed in each chapter. These 20 lessons are additionally divided into four sections, from understanding and reflection on one’s own identity and history to act, build relations for the future and achieve, freedom, justice, and equity. All of which are part of removing oneself from being non-racist and becoming anti-racist. 


The author Tiffany Jewell is a Black biracial writer and Antiracist Montessori educator and consultant. The illustrator for the book is the French illustrator Aurélia Durand who in her art celebrates diversity, and she dedicates her artistic voice to represent non-white individuals with bold, proud, and empowering colours.