tommy.jensen@sbs.su.se johan.sandstrom@ltu.se

History directed by the action: how is Organizing Rocks affecting my life?


This is a post written by our friend and colleague Michał Zawadzki:

I remember my first experience with Organizing Rocks project in 2015. I just came back to Krakow after amazing postdoc period at Gothenburg Research Institute and was missing Sweden so much. It was my academic colleague, Monika Kostera, who shared the Org Rock blog to me, knowing that my soul suffers a lot.

Reading the blog for the first time was an incredible experience in many ways. I was shocked that it is possible to use cross-media methods in ethnographic research and that it might have such a great impact on understanding the research results. When listening to the song Kiruna you maggot or We the North I was in Sweden again, this time up to the North, observing the labour process in Kiruna mine. But what is more important, I discovered a beauty of ethnographic research: a slow data collection, immersion in the culture, meeting other people to understand their lives.

Many things happened in my life since then. I recorded drums for Organizing Rock songs and started academic as well as musical collaboration with Tommy. I invited Tommy and Johan to Krakow where we discussed their project and played some music. And, yes!, I finally moved to Sweden in 2018, now working at Jönköping University.

When I read the blog posts I re-discover its beauty again. I have a feeling that labour processes at academia are even faster than in 2015 due to casino-capitalism but reading Org Rock blog reminds me what is still the most important in research: building trust-based relations with people, slow and detailed process of data collection, excitement and maybe most importantly: happiness. Take a look on Johan’s and Tommy’s faces when they talk to local people in Kiruna and you will get what I mean!

But what is the most important lesson I learnt from Organizing Rocks? That no single individual’s actions can bring the changes for which the individual hoped, but rather the process of history directed by those actions. You never know what might happen when you take particular action and how you affect other people’s lives. Did Tommy and Johan think about turning my life upside down when starting this project? I don’t think so!