Alumni of the Month, December 2022

The December 2022 edition of the HCAS Alumni Gallery features Jostein Gripsrud and Veronica Walker Vadillo
Jostein Gripsrud

I am as of 1 March 2022 Professor emeritus at the Department of Information Science and Media Studies at the University of Bergen, Norway. My research has through over forty years had the idea of a, or the, public sphere and its roles in democracies as a central conceptual link. All of my work on a variety of media (literature, theatre, press, television, recent digital media etc) should be understood as attempts at charting and interpreting the political and artistic role of public communications. I led a series of large scale national, Nordic and international research projects on media and cultural issues. My first job as a professor was in Stockholm and I was a visiting professor/researcher in Los Angeles, New York, London, Copenhagen, Paris and Bruxelles before arriving in Helsinki.

My wonderful year at the Helsinki Collegium as Helsingin Sanomat Foundation Fellow in 2017–2018 was spent writing a book about (and contributing to) the Norwegian debate about immigration policies, tied to my position as leader of a collective project on the debates in Scandinavia about these issues since around 1970.

Veronica Walker Vadillo

I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki where I lead the project “The ports and harbours of Southeast Asia: human-environment entanglements in the Early Modern period” funded by the University of Helsinki 3 Year Research Grant scheme. I also teach various lectures focused on Asian History and Archaeology, as well as Maritime Archaeology, and over the past three years I have designed and implemented a course on human-environment interactions in maritime spaces along with Ass. Prof. Kristin Ilves and Katerina Velentza. A historian and maritime archaeologist by training, my research interests have revolved around the way past communities have interacted with their watery environment, developing along the way rich cultural frameworks around maritime landscapes.

My time as a Core Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies in 2018-2020 was devoted to the study of fish ecology and traditional fishing practices in the Mekong River Basin, and exploring how these factors could help us understand mobility patterns and state development in the past. During the course of my research, it became apparent that using a historical ecology approach to the study of waterborne networks could provide greater nuance of the past. This approach was carried onto my current project, which explores local ecologies, rhythms of nature, and how these affect historic maritime networks.

My two years at Collegium were fundamental for my growth as a researcher, and provided me with the perfect setting in which to explore new theoretical and methodological approaches for my research. The exciting intellectual atmosphere there allowed me to collaborate with academics from other fields, and provided the necessary support to run events that still have ripple effects through my life, from publishing an edited volume to setting an online webinar series. The latter is going into its second year in a row, and has allowed me to interact with researchers all over the world.