You may find here the list of our current HCAS Fellows and short descriptions of their research projects.
Current HCAS Fellows
- Youth cultures and participation
- Lifestyles and social movements
- Qualitative methods
Youth political participation via social media
There has been a lot of discussion about falling voting rates and the general apathy of the younger generation. Though youth has been approached as alienated from politics, an alternative explanation is that conventional political participation has been replaced by new, more individualized forms of political sensibility. Young people simply express themselves differently: in the quotidian choices they make as they inhabit the civil sphere, as well as in the less spontaneous but still informal actions of social movements. Social media in particular is thought to open up new means of being political, albeit with strong criticism of participation via this means also noted. The historical and political background may have an influence on participation via social media. Social media opportunities can be especially important in countries without a history of strong civic engagement as they allow young people to get involved in a distanced and individualized manner. In the case of old democracies, digital participation could be more connected to conventional activities. Using examples from Estonia and Finland, the project investigates how new forms of political subjectivity are made online.
Airi-Alina Allaste, Professor of Sociology at Tallinn University, Estonia, focuses her research, publications, and teaching on youth-related topics, qualitative methods, and the analyses of meanings that people attribute to their lives. She has been a coordinator of many projects on youth cultures, lifestyles, participation and motilities. She has also edited seven books/special issues on these topics. Currently, she is vice-president of the international research committee of the Sociology of Youth, ISA and has served as a member of the European Sociological Association executive committee (2015-2019). In recent years, she has been a visiting professor at Lisbon University, Portugal; Griffith University, Australia and the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia.
- Structuralism and narratology
- World-systems theory
- 'World literature'
- Utopian imaginary
Alternative Communities: Irrealist Tropes and the Collective Imaginary on the Literary Semi-Periphery of Europe
My research focuses on the emerging field of world-literature (understood in world-systemic terms) and explores imaginaries of social organisation and collective action in literatures on the European peripheries. This and other (semi-)peripheral regions of the world-system formerly part of the so-called Second Worldare usually glossed over in the popular analytical oppositions of Western/postcolonial or North/South. However, their comparative examination in world-literary terms and outside the usual confines of area studies can nuance the existing theories of literary history and cultural analysis and perhaps even show how these literatures productively intervene into the current crisis of political imagination. Two guiding aims of my research are, first, to give an analysis of the semi-peripheral collective imaginary, as it is captured, for example, in post-1990 Ukrainian, Belarusian, Hungarian and Estonian literary production; second, with this analysis to contribute to the on-going search for new Utopias and, more prosaically, to a rethinking of the scope and direction of literary and cultural theories.
I work in the field of language, literature and culture. Since my Ph.D. (Justus Liebig University Giessen, Germany) I have been interested in the possibilities of narrative expression of an enunciatively plural collective voice. My monograph on we-narratives is forthcoming with the Ohio State University Press. More recently, my research focus has shifted from narratology and Anglophone fiction to world-literature, comparative morphology, alternative futures and modes of social existence which fascinate the (semi-)peripheral literary imagination. Prior to HCAS I worked on these topics with support from the German Research Foundation (DFG), Kone Foundation and Alfred Kordelin Foundation.
- Medieval magic, religion, and science
- Renaissance humanism
- Medieval and early modern history of Christianity
Disenchanting Albert: Magic in the Service of Disenchantment
Disenchanting Albert is a research project whose aim is to ascertain, first, the teaching on magic of the leading high medieval philosopher Albertus Magnus, and then, the complex path his reputation as a sorcerer took from his own day to the Enlightenment. This particular history, in turn, serves as a lens through which to address the larger challenge of western thoughts on disenchantment, especially as it bears on the two fields in which Albert’s study of magic proved most controversial, science and theology. This study will show how such processes of disenchantment can be understood not simply as working against the pre-modern interest in magic, but more so how disenchantment emerged out of these very arguments over magic.
David Collins is an associate professor of medieval intellectual and cultural history at Georgetown University (Washington, DC). He has higher degrees in history, philosophy, and theology from universities in the USA and Germany and earned his Ph.D. in History at Northwestern University in Illinois (2004). He has published extensively on Renaissance humanism and the cult of the saints, especially in Germany, as well as on medieval magic, religion, and science. He recently completed The Sacred and the Sinister: Studies in Medieval Religion and Magic, a volume of collected scholarship that appeared in press last spring (Penn State Press, 2019).
- Material feminism
- Environmental Posthumanities
Rethinking the Human: Posthuman Vulnerability and its Ethical Potential
My project will advance the paradigm shift initiated by posthumanist material feminism that rejects the conception of the human as exceptional and the dualisms at the foundation of humanist thinking. I will contribute to new theorizations that put the human back in its world and in relation with others, human and nonhuman, in order to better conceptualize those relations. Ultimately, my aim is to demonstrate that our ontological vulnerability ought to be embraced rather than rejected since it is the only way in which we can fully flourish. I will investigate how vulnerability can: (a) undo the self through negative interconnections, such as trauma, but also, and most importantly, (b) promote ethical growth by enhancing the self through positive interconnections, such as better mutual and respectful ecological relations.
Christine Daigle is professor of philosophy and Director of the Posthumanism Research Institute at Brock University. Her current research explores the concept of posthuman vulnerability and its ethical potential from a posthumanist material feminist point of view. She also works on environmental posthumanities and issues related to the Anthropocene. She has also published extensively on the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Simone de Beauvoir.
- Ethics of Belief
- Philosophy of Religion
- Moral Philosophy
Manufacturing Belief in Latin Medieval Philosophy
The aim of the project is to initiate a comprehensive study of the philosophical underpinnings of the medieval conceptions of religious persuasion through the rhetorical production of emotions in the Catholic tradition. The project will study heretofore under-examined texts from the early 13th century to the middle of the 14th century that deal with the production of beliefs through emotion inducing persuasion, taking as a point of departure medieval theories of emotions, rhetoric, preaching and religious faith.
I am a specialist of the medieval theories of faith, on the history of which my PhD dissertation is one of the first contemporary comprehensive studies (to be published in 2019). My focus has been on the psychological mechanisms and epistemic and moral justifications of voluntary belief in the Middle Ages. I have also studied the notion of habitus or disposition in medieval psychology, on which I have coedited a book. This notion is at the heart of the study of the psychological foundations of stable belief and free action that play a crucial part in the present project.
- descriptive linguistics, ethnolinguistics, sociolinguistics
- linguistic typology
- language contacts
- language obsolescence
- language revitalization
- urban multilingualism
A grammar of Nivkh, an isolate Paleosiberian language
The main goal of my Collegium project is to produce a large academic grammar of the little-documented and seriously endangered Nivkh language spoken on Sakhalin and in the Amur region of Russia. The language is of considerable universal interest for general linguistics, since it is an isolate (Paleosiberian) language, which differs in fundamental ways from the neigbouring languages and has features rare or unique among the languages of the world. Nivkh represents a remnant of the original linguistic diversity of the North Pacific Rim, which is why the study of its evolution and structure is essential for understanding the human past of eastern Eurasia. The grammar will be written within the interdisciplinary framework of language ecology, implying that the grammatical information, analysed in terms of modern theoretical linguistics, will be placed in a large extra-linguistic context. This context will consider also the speakers of the language at different time levels and in their ethnic, social, cultural, and physical environment, which inevitably have influenced the development of the language. The grammar will be based upon linguistic data collected during my fieldwork in the Russian Far East since 1989, as well as on other extant sources of Nivkh.
I am a University Lecturer and a Docent in General Linguistics at the Department of Languages, University of Helsinki. I was born and educated in St. Petersburg, where I received my PhD at the Institute for Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences. Since 1989, I have been conducting fieldwork in the Russian Far East, with the main focus on the Nivkh language. My publications deal with various aspects of Nivkh grammar, areal typology, sociolinguistics, language contacts, language obsolescense, revitalization, etc. I have been leading a project on revitalization of Nivkh, which has been recently extended to the neighboring Tungusic languages.
To our great sorrow, Ari Haukkala passed away in February 2021. The Collegium honours the memory of our beloved colleague.
- Social Psychology
- Behavior change
- Health technology
Disseminating heritable cancer risk information to relatives. Knowledge, duty, fear, guilt, and support in social networks
The amount of genomic information that people receive will increase in the future. It is an important challenge to understand how people perceive the complexity and uncertainty of this information, and how they may use it in a way that contributes positively to their health. Furthermore, when genetic tests reveal increased risks of treatable or preventable heritable diseases, people may also need to inform their relatives who have a 50% risk of having the same mutation. This can be an emotionally and socially challenging task, as individuals must simultaneously deal with decisions related to their own health and that of their relatives. These examples include ethical dilemmas of how to deal with family members’ rights to know/not know genetic information, as well as social emotions like guilt, and moral obligations to inform relatives to avoid anticipated regret. Communicating genetic risk information does not happen straightforwardly from individual to individual, but rather within social networks that include families’ unique health and social histories, extended family members and relations between network members that could either foster or thwart the decision to undergo genetic testing. For these reasons, uptake of genetic testing, understanding and processing genetic information, and sharing one’s own genetic information is examined at the level of social networks.
Ari Haukkala is University Researcher at Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies and co-director of Behaviour Change and well-being research group at University of Helsinki. He is involved with personalized medicine projects where the aim is examine how health related genetic information is understood among lay people, how heritable risk information is communicated within families and what kind behavioural outcomes that information have (P5.fi study). Main interest in all works is how we can use theory-based behavior change techniques to improve peoples well-being and health in different environments.
- Late Antiquity
- Late Roman history
- Christianisation of the Mediterranean world
Waiting for Barbarians, Recognizing Immigrants, Making Romans: Roman Ambiguities and the Uses of Barbarians in the Political, Social and Religious Struggles in Late Antiquity (300-600)
My project looks at the mechanisms by which the Romans dealt with immigrants and aliens, both at the conceptual and rhetorical levels of knowledge ordering, ethnicization and religious othering, as well as at the socio-political level. While previous research has mainly concentrated on finding out who the newcomers were and how their identities evolved, I turn the attention to the host societies receiving the immigrants. I concentrate on the uses of immigrant and alien groups in internal political, social and religious struggles. The project is about the attitudes and expectations in regard to immigrants, alien groups and religious others within the Roman and post-Roman societies. Since most extant sources were produced by elite writers in these societies, the perspective is inescapably theirs. Hence, the objective is to construct an alternative approach with a different set of questions that concentrate on the circumstances and identities evolving within the host society. How does the host society use immigrants? Who are treated as aliens and who are recognized as Romans and what criteria and mechanisms are used? Who are taken as religious others?
Maijastina Kahlos is an historian and a classicist (University of Helsinki, Finland). She is the author of Vettius Agorius Praetextatus: Senatorial Life in Between (2002), Debate and Dialogue: Christian and Pagan Cultures, c. 360-430 (2007), and Forbearance and Compulsion: Rhetoric of Tolerance and Intolerance in Late Antiquity (2009), and Religious Dissent in Late Antiquity, in 350-450 (2020), and the editor of The Faces of the other: Religious Rivalry and Ethnic Encounters in the later Roman world (2012) and Emperors and the Divine - Rome and its Influence (2016).
- Cognitive sociology
- Cognitive social science
- Philosophy of the social sciences
- Interdisciplinary integration
- Sociological theory
Cognitive Sociology What, Why and How?
In recent decades, many cognitive scientists have begun to pay increasing attention to the social and cultural aspects of human cognition. Simultaneously, a small but growing number of cognitive sociologists have sought to integrate findings, concepts and methods from the cognitive sciences with sociology. My study explores this intersection between sociology and the cognitive sciences with a specific aim to:
- Develop a theoretical framework for analyzing the interdisciplinary integration between the cognitive and social sciences.
- Map current approaches and developments in cognitive sociology.
- Evaluate the arguments for and against cognitive sociology.
- Identify conceptual and methodological problems that arise in cognitive sociological research with a special focus on three cases: (i) theoretical and empirical studies on commensuration of social phenomena; (ii) attempts to integrate the dual-process models of cognition with sociological action theories; and (iii) interdisciplinary memory studies.
In other words, my study answers three questions: What is cognitive sociology? Why is it important for sociological research? How should it proceed?
Tuukka Kaidesoja is a member of the TINT Centre for Philosophy of Social Science at the University of Helsinki. He also holds a title of docent (sociology) at the University of Turku and is principle investigator of a research project on the cognitive social sciences that is funded by Emil Aaltonen foundation. His main research areas have been in sociological theory, mechanism-based explanations in the social sciences, critical realism in the social sciences, science policy, and the integration of the cognitive and social sciences.
- language change
- language and culture contact
- conversion to Christianity
- language socialization
- language description and documentation
Bilingualism at home and in church: a holistic study of language contact in social contexts
Language contact and multilingualism have been driving language change throughout the human history. A common outcome of multilingualism is transfer of linguistic features from one language to another in the speech of multilingual individuals. Yet how exactly transferred features become, or don’t become, a monolingual language norm remains poorly understood. A study of a multilingual West-African ecology proposed in my project, with Mano and Kpelle languages at its core, aims at filling this gap by looking at language contact through a dual lens: a close ethnographic study of the social context of contact and an analysis of its various linguistic consequences. I develop a methodologically innovative holistic program combining an investigation of individual and language-level processes, synchrony and diachrony, ethnography, corpus study and experiment.
I am an interdisciplinary researcher studying at the intersection of anthropology, sociolinguistics, and structural linguistics. My research is underpinned by extensive fieldwork and focuses on cross-linguistic and cross-cultural comparison; my current project explores language contact between the under-studied Mano and Kpelle languages in West Africa in their social context. I initially trained as a linguist, but quickly expanded my area of expertize into sociology and anthropology as well. I received my PhD at Inalco, Paris in 2015 and spent three following years as a postdoc in the Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley. I came to Helsinki in 2017 and until 2020 was a member of the Helsinki University Humanities Program.
- International law (public and private)
- Gender analysis of international law
- Ideas of the state and belonging
What Should Foreign Relations Law Be?
With the rise of populism, many international lawyers are turning inward to national law to prevent their country’s exit from major multilateral treaties and international institutions. They are simultaneously looking to the national-law powers of provinces and cities to step up on climate change, human rights and other global issues to compensate for the inaction of the overarching state. In other words, foreign relations law is the spotlight. But international lawyers have long been suspicious of such a field as a nationalistic and parochial competitor of international law. The hypothesis of my research is that these anxieties about foreign relations law can instead be reinvented as a pluralistic and critical vantagepoint on the state, potentially illuminating important challenges to globalization, including populism. In this vein, my research at the Collegium will take apart the components - what is law, what are foreign relations to develop an alternative frame for norms, actors and spatiality. Areas will include Indigenous law and foreign relations, the conduct of foreign relations by cities and multinational corporations, and peace camps and foreign military bases.
Karen Knop is Professor of Law at the University of Toronto, where she has served as Editor of the University of Toronto Law Journal and Associate Dean for Research. Her books include Diversity and Self-Determination in International Law (Cambridge University Press), which received a Certificate of Merit from the American Society of International Law, and, as editor, Gender and Human Rights (Oxford University Press). Her articles have appeared in the European Journal of International Law, Stanford Law Review and Transnational Legal Theory, among others. She serves on the Editorial Board of five journals which are published in three countries.
- Archaeology, Epigraphy, Papyrology
- Judaism, Christianity, Islam
- Bible, Quran
- Ancient Near East
The Alphabet: History and Development in the First Millennium BCE Levant
In the first millennium BCE, the alphabet evolves into distinctive scripts used to write Northwest-Semitic languages such as Aramaic, Phoenician and Hebrew. The alphabet spreads into the entire Mediterranean world and gives rise to such scripts as the Greek and Latin alphabets. Although the development of so-called national scripts can be observed, this distinction is not always obvious; recent discoveries show how scripts can be adapted and mixed in a single inscription, to the point that traditional classifications must be rethought. The present research project seeks to study, from the ground up, the history and evolution of these scripts in the light of new discoveries and with the help of new technologies.
My initial training is in formal sciences, especially mathematics, computer sciences, physics and chemistry, with a major in fundamental mathematics. I then turned to humanities with studies in theology, history and philology. The encounter between formal and social sciences was fruitful and never ceased to sustain my research. I received a PhD at the Sorbonne, in Paris, where I specialized in epigraphy. I worked as a researcher at the Collège de France until I was tenured Associate Professor at the University of Strasbourg. I also obtained an Habilitation, which enables me to supervise PhD students and researchers. I am sometimes asked to provide my main official titles. Here they are: Prof. Dr. habil. Michael Langlois holds a PhD and Habilitation in Historical and Philological Sciences from EPHESorbonne. He teaches as tenured Associate Professor at the University of Strasbourg and is a member of the University Institute of France. He is also an associate researcher with the CNRS / Collège de France, as well as an Auxiliary of the Academy of Inscriptions and Fine Letters.
- Science and technology studies
- Economic sociology
- Feminist theory
Ecological Assetization: New Configurations of Economy and Ecology
This project aims to bridge the gap between environmental economics and the environmental humanities (broadly defined), by examining the phenomenon of ecological assetization. Ecological assetization is central to the current turn to the debt-based finance of the green economy but has until now received scant attention in environmental humanities. This project does not simply extract knowledge from environmental economics to supplement the theorisations of the environmental humanities, nor only criticize the former from the standpoints of the latter. Rather, it aims to generate productive conversations and collaborations between environmental economics and environmental humanities. It investigates one of the most challenging issues facing humanity today: how to simultaneously cultivate ecological and economic sustainability.
Liu Xin is a postdoctoral researcher at the Swedish School of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki. Liu has published in Australian Feminist Studies, Parallax, MAI: Feminism & Visual Culture, Girlhood Studies, NORA, Nordic Journal of Migration Research, Sukupuolentutkimus-Genusforskning, Feminist Encounters: A journal of Critical Studies in Culture and Politics. Her recent projects examine the phenomenon of air pollution in the Chinese context as well as the reproduction of norms in digital games.
- Philosophy of time
- Philosophy of religion
From Divine Timemaker to Divine Watchmaker
I am examining the following four questions. What is time? In what sense is God responsible for the existence of time? What kind of structure might God give to a time series? What are the implications for religious doctrines of creation, providence, and life after death?
R.T. Mullins (PhD, University of St Andrews). Works on philosophical theology. Previous publications include "The End of the Timeless God," (Oxford University Press, 2016). "God and Emotion," (Cambridge University Press, 2020).
- Sound studies
- Decolonial thinking
- Voice and politics
On Temporalities of (Colonial) Sonic Biometrics
My proposed research focuses on inquiring the development and deployment of automated accent recognition technologies in the migration and border industry of Germany and its near-future extension within the European Union. More specifically, it explores the materiality of speech and accent databases, and their possible constitution as archives of the human voice. By working within methods found in sound studies and decolonial thinking, expressed through not only academic but also artistic means, this research proposes a closer investigation of the different temporalities of what I call the colonial politics of sonic biometrics. In other words, how the acts of collecting, ranking, taxonomizing, and normalizing sound-based human traits such as timbre, pitch, rhythm, intonation, and their subsequent automation by software, is weaponized in the border-industrial complex with the purpose of curbing the movement of racialized, gendered and sexed bodies.
Dr. Pedro Oliveira is a researcher, sound artist, and educator. His research focuses on a material inquiry of sound, using both artistic and academic methods to explore and interrogate the articulations of listening, coloniality, and violence in the policing of urban and border spaces.
- Causal Explanation
- Agency and Free Will
- Philosophy of Mind
- Philosophy of Science
- Philosophy of Physics
- Philosophy of Biology
- Philosophy of Medicine
- Philosophy of Neuroscience
- Philosophy of Psychology
Agency and Free Will in a Physical World
The ideas of human agency and free will seem to be in conflict with our physicalistic intuitions: if everything happens in accordance with the fundamental laws of physics, and if those laws are out of the reach of our influence, then our decisions and actions are equally out of the reach of our influence. In this study this issue is addressed in the context of a precisely defined notion of causation; the main research question can be formulated thus: supposing that physicalism holds, and causation is understood as counterfactual difference-making, what sort of view on agency and free will should we be committed to? More specifically, this research aims to clarify the roles of determinism and indeterminism in physical explanation, to analyse the relationship of fundamental physical symmetries and free will, and to show how the intuitions concerning the incompatibility of free will and physical determinism arise from interpreting causation in terms that go against the idea of causation as difference-making. Further, this research aims to show that, contrary to what is often assumed, the physical and agential levels of description are de facto linked, with the former constraining the latter: physical (e.g. neural) evidence affects the assessment of agential states. The issue of free will and nonreductive physicalism is therefore not of a mere abstract philosophical interest; it has tangible consequences to our moral judgements and jurisprudence.
Dr Pernu completed his PhD on the topic of causal explanation in naturalistic philosophy of mind, jointly representing the department of biosciences (neuroscience and physiology) and the department of philosophy (theoretical philosophy), at the University of Helsinki in 2013. He has since held research fellowships at the molecular and integrative biosciences research programme, University of Helsinki, and department of philosophy, Kings College London. Dr Pernu has research expertise in philosophy of mind, and philosophy of the natural sciences, physics, biology, and medicine, in particular.
- Communication context
- Consumer society
- Foucauldian discourse analysis
Racism without others: Everyday mediations in Poland
In my postdoctoral project I cross-fertilise communication studies with disciplines such as sociology, history and social geography to understand racism in Poland where the racialised others are physically absent but continuously present in everyday communication. Decentring a recent racist turn in political and public discourses, I turn to the mundane communication avenues as sites where globally circulated racist discourses are articulated through the local socio-cultural and/or politico-historical repositories. In Foucauldian spirit, I examine how these discourses construct the racialised others as objects of knowledge and, in doing so, contribute to the augmentation of racist subjectivities in the Polish society. I theorise that in Poland racism is discursively instrumentalised to uphold the self-congratulatory national self-definition. The project pursues this proposition in three case studies. The first study probes how orientalist discourses prefigure representations of the racialised people and destinations that circulate in the blogosphere. The second study looks at how the discourse of threat, spuriously associated with multiculturalism, plays out in the national legacy media. The third study scrutinises how the discourse of un/worthiness of the racialised others intersects with the marginalisation of ethnic minorities in the built urban environment.
Kinga Polynczuk-Alenius is a media and communication researcher interested in the role of communication and its contexts in addressing, or not, ethical challenges that face an increasingly globalised world. To study this issue, she promiscuously branches out into various adjacent disciplines, such as sociology, social and cultural anthropology, social geography, and literary studies. She defended her doctoral dissertation, titled Ethical trade communication as moral education, at the University of Helsinki in 2018. Her articles have been published in academic journals such as 'Globalizations', 'International Journal of Cultural Studies', and 'Media and Communication'.
- historical sociolinguistics
- language contacts
Multilingual areas in North Asia: Reconstructing interethnic communication patterns of traditional communities
This project will employ the case study of Lower Kolyma region to illustrate the linguistic and ethnic interaction between indigenous communities for over more than one and a half centuries. The area used to be highly multilingual in the 20th century. The list of languages of the region comprises Tundra Yukaghir, Lower Kolyma Even, Kolyma Chukchi, Yakut, and Russian, representing five different linguistic stocks, and some Lower Kolyma residents still have a command of all of them. The research questions of the project are: What factors influence the emergence of multilingualism in traditional societies of a contact region? What social processes it is accompanied by, and how it is manifested (or why it is not manifested) in contact languages? Ultimately, I plan to give a uniform multifaceted picture of Lower Kolyma communities from the middle of the 19th century to the present day, making the area diachronically comparable to the other multicultural regions of North Asia, such as the Chukchi Peninsula and Lower Amur areas.
I was born and lived for most of my life in St. Petersburg. In my fourth university year (Herzen State Pedagogical University), I took part in a dialectological expedition to Russian villages where I understood that working in the field is an invaluable experience and a great resource for scientific studies. The topic of my PhD study was the Chukchi language, and I undertook multiple expeditions to various districts of Chukotka, and also to Kamchatka and Yakutia. During my PhD studies, I attended anthropology courses in the European University at St. Petersburg which partly determined my current interdisciplinary approach. I also took part in language revitalization programs.
- Semiotics of Religion
- Systematic and Ecumenical Theology
- Philosophy of Religion
The Dynamics and Varieties of Religion in Semiosphere
The aim of this project is to contribute with a novel theosemiotic methodology to a better understanding of religion as lived reality and dynamic factor that affects societies and communal life in Europe. This is a necessary condition for shaping religion responsibly. European society has become increasingly multi-religious and religious issues and contributions interfere in the so-called modern secular public. The long held popular view that religion is merely a private matter appears to be unrealistic and inadequate. Via the theosemiotic approach to “religion” in peoples and societies’ lives, developed in critically constructive dialogue with the cultural semiotics of Juri Lotman, it is possible to analyse religion in promising and fruitful way as a mechanism of culture. The gain is a more realistic and nuanced understanding of our contemporary situation that enhances conditions for conviviality and dialogue in pluralistic societies where people understand themselves variously as religious or not religious. The project brings different approaches of studying religion into critical and creative dialogue with semiotic theory of culture, cultural psychology of semiotic dynamics (Jaan Valsiner) and existential semiotics (Eero Tarasti).
Thomas-Andreas Põder is Professor of Systematic Theology at the Institute of Theology of the EELC, Tallinn/Estonia, and Lecturer of Philosophy of Religion at the University of Tartu/Estonia. He is a member of the International Association for Semiotic Studies, the Estonian Semiotics Association, the Estonian Academic Society of Theology and the Nordic Society for Philosophy of Religion. In addition to numerous articles and five edited books, he has authored two monographs: The Culture of Faith in Lutheran Perspective. Historical and Constructive Explorations in Theological Thought (Tallinn: EELK UI 2018, in Estonian); Solidary Tolerance. Theology of the Cross and Social Ethics in the Work of Alexander von Oettingen (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck&Ruprecht, 2016, in German). Most recently he has co-edited Sign, Method, and the Sacred. New Directions in Semiotic Methodologies for the Study of Religion (DeGruyter, to be published in 2021).
- International political economy
- Political economy of transatlantic relations
- European monetary integration
- Critical political economy & heterodox economics
Lost Decades: Germany, the United States and the Political Economy of Transatlantic Relations after Bretton Woods
Prevailing approaches to understanding globalisation and European integration suffer from a basic problem: they do not account for why these phenomena are associated with socio-economic stagnation in Europe (and the United States). This project seeks to redress this problem by drawing on post-Keynesian and regulation-theoretical traditions. In particular, the project addresses the problem of American and especially German leadership ('hegemony') after the 1971 collapse of Bretton Woods. It asks whether the path of stagnation was structurally inevitable, or if leading agents might have acted differently...and might act differently in the future.
Magnus Ryner is Professor of International Political Economy and former Head of the Department of European and International Studies at King's College London. He has written extensively on the problem of welfare capitalism in the era of global neoliberalism, including on the so-called 'Nordic Model', the German social market, and European integration. Related to this, he has made several critical theoretical interventions on the limitations of prevailing approaches to the study of European and world order and the social context that explain their dominance. He is currently interested in dialogues between international political economy and heterodox economics.
- Fertility behaviour
- Intergenerational transmission
- Early family environment (parent-child relationship, socioeconomic status, and psychosocial environment)
- Psychosocial determinants of physical and mental health
- Heterogeneity of depression
Psychosocial Factors Driving Fertility Decline in Finland and Other Nordic Countries
In my project, I focus on the role of fertility intentions in the recent fertility decline in the Nordic countries and explore them from psychological and demographic perspectives. In the last ten years, there has been a steep decline in the total fertility rates in the Nordic countries, with Finland exhibiting a particularly pronounced decline. The explanations for this decline are hotly debated but poorly understood. By using survey data from the Nordic countries, I investigate whether the actual fertility trends in the Nordic countries are anticipated by changes in fertility intentions. I also study how different psychosocial factors (such as values and attitudes; subjective well-being; early family environment; social networks) influence fertility intentions, and especially why people hesitate about having a first child. To understand why Finland exhibits the strongest fertility fall among the Nordic countries, I will compare psychosocial factors and fertility intentions in these countries.
I am a research psychologist working in the fields of health psychology, family psychology, public health, mental health, and fertility. My PhD in Psychology (Faculty of Medicine, University of Helsinki, 2017) was devoted to the transmission of psychosocial factors such as parent-child relationship and socioeconomic position across generations and their relation to offspring health. As a postdoc, I investigated the role of psychosocial factors in pupils’ symptoms in Finnish schools with indoor air problems (2018-2019) and heterogeneity of depression (since 2020). Currently, I am interested in the role of psychosocial factors in fertility behaviour in Finland and Europe.
- Modern British social history
- Gender history
- History of emotions
- History of crime
Unruly Emotions: Changing Emotional Cultures of Married Life in Britain, 1945-2000
This project maps how the state, medical profession and media influenced the marriage advice given to couples in Britain between 1945 and 2000 and how the emotional rules differed according to time period, class, gender and local socio-economic conditions. The research examines the impact of these attempts to regulate how emotions should be felt, shown, or supressed; the justifications for these interventions; and the extent to which expert knowledge about emotions shaped this advice, thus influencing how psychiatric knowledge was disseminated in society. The research uses a mixture of archival and oral history methods to examine how the marriage advice given by various voluntary and state-run organisations and the problem pages of newspapers reflected and shaped the everyday emotional cultures of married life. Rather than just examining the most obvious emotions related to marriage, love and romance, the research also explores how different sources of marital advice instructed couples to express or repress more mundane emotions, such as boredom, sympathy and annoyance. Current research on the role of the state and civil society in regulating emotions primarily focuses on children. This project examines the ways in which such emotional training continued into adulthood and explores the wider implications of these intimate interventions for the relationship between the individual and society.
Louise Settle completed a PhD at the University of Edinburgh in 2013 and has since held two postdoctoral fellowships, at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (Edinburgh, 2013-2014) and the Institute for Advanced Social Research (Tampere, 2016-2018). She has also undertaken research on the history of child sexual abuse as part of a collaborative project between Cambridge, Edinburgh and Sheffield universities. Louise researches twentieth century British social history, with a particular focus on histories of crime, probation, prostitution, gender and emotions. Her publications include Sex For Sale In Scotland: Prostitution in Edinburgh and Glasgow, 1900-1939 (Edinburgh UP, 2016).
- Cognitive neuroscience
- Mind wandering
- Cognitive flexibility
When attention wanders: Neurocognitive basis of fluctuations in attentionurrent research
No matter how hard individuals try to concentrate on a task, their internal state of attention fluctuates between task-related and task-unrelated focus. The dynamic nature of conscious experience is illustrated by mind wandering, in which attention switches from an external task to self-generated thoughts and feelings. Mind wandering involves a balance of costs and benefits: It can lead to errors on external tasks such as reading a book or driving a car, but it also associated with creativity and well-being. Although, mind wandering comprises approximately half of the waking state, theories of attention typically assume that attention is mainly driven by external stimuli. Different lines of research indicate that attentional fluctuations are ubiquitous in mental life, yet the mechanisms that cause attention to fluctuate are poorly understood. This project examines the neural and cognitive basis as well as the behavioral significance of attentional fluctuations.
Jaana Simola's research concerns performance and brain dynamics during different attention tasks.She is interested in cognitive flexibility and how attentional fluctuations can inform us about the episodes when attention decouples from external environment to self-generated states such as mind wandering. She also has a strong interest in fluctuations in spontaneous brain dynamics, pupil size and blinking. Her research also concerns active vision, i.e., how we sample our environment with eye movements and how we process emotional stimuli and task-irrelevant information. Jaana uses a wide range of methods including MEG, EEG, eye tracking and psychophysics.
- History of philosophy
- Moral psychology
Descartes’ Ethical Perfectionism
My work at the Collegium will focus on the ethical thought of René Descartes (1596-1650). On my interpretation, Descartes’ ethics constitutes an interesting kind of ethical perfectionism. It offers an ideal for how to live in terms of a life of virtue, something which Descartes identifies as a life of showing a firm and constant resolution [in the will] to carry out to the letter all the things which one judges to be best, and to employ all the powers of ones mind in finding out what these are. This ideal, however, is grounded in a more basic account of the human good, according to which that good consists in the perfection of human nature. By living virtuously, according to Descartes, each person is guaranteed the highest degree of perfection that is possible for them.
After graduating with a PhD in philosophy from Uppsala University in 2006, I have held positions at the universities of Witwatersrand, Arizona (post doc), Stockholm, and Umeå. I am currently senior lecturer in philosophy at the Department of Philosophy, Linguistics, and Theory of Science at the University of Gothenburg. My main interests are ethics and the history of practical philosophy.