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Personal profile

Description of research and teaching

Saila-Maria Saaristo is a researcher and lecturer in Global Development Studies at the University of Helsinki, and a member of Urbaria (Helsinki Institute of Urban and Regional Studies) and HELSUS (Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science=. She is currently finalising her doctoral studies within the doctoral programmes "Political, Societal and Regional Change" at the University of Helsinki and the "Democracy in the 21st Century" programme of the University of Coimbra.

Her PhD thesis, titled "Transformative Participation - Housing Struggles, Occupations and Evictions in Lisbon Metropolitan Area", explores the phenomena of occupations and struggle against evictions in social housing estates of Lisbon metropolitan area, paying attention to the roles of the different actors in these processes, such as residents, social movement activists, and managers of the social housing estates. Her research centres around the themes of right to the city and right to housing; insurgent/makeshift urbanism; occupation and evictions; social movements and the management and governance of urban space.

Saila Saaristo completed her master's degree in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Helsinki in 2009, with a Master's thesis on the role of favela resident associations in the processes of development of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro. In addition to the academic career, she has worked extensively as a consultor, manager and coordinator of different kinds of international cooperation projects financed by the European Union and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland, in the areas of governance and democracy, human rights, and gender, having worked and lived in many different countries, such as Cape Verde, Tanzania, Mozambique, Brazil, Bolivia and Portugal.

She has been responsible for lecturing and organising the examinations for the courses "Continuities and Discontinuities, Connections and Disconnections" (introductory course to Development Studies) and "Social Movements in the Global South (Master's level course).

Education/Academic qualification

Social and Cultural Anthropology, Master of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki

Award Date: 1 Jun 2009

External positions

PhD Candidate, Doctoral Programme in Democracy in 21st Century, Centre for Social Studies

15 Sep 201731 Dec 2021

Visiting Researcher, Centre for Social Studies, University of Coimbra

1 Sep 201730 Jun 2018

Fields of Science

  • 5203 Global Development Studies
  • Housing policy
  • Social movements
  • Governance
  • Subjectivity
  • Urban development
  • 5143 Social and cultural anthropology

International and National Collaboration

Publications and projects within past five years.
  • Best paper award

    Saaristo, Saila-Maria (Recipient) & Bogado, Diana (Recipient), 6 Dec 2020

    Prize: Prizes and awards