This autumn three postdoctoral researchers joined the Datafication of society and SSH research program. Earlier this year HSSH invited applications for the positions receiving over 60 well-thought-out applications from many corners of the world.
The Datafication research program brings together researchers from social sciences, humanities, law, education, and computer sciences to advance frameworks and understanding of datafication both as a process that shapes social infrastructures and as an evolving context for social sciences and humanities that opens new methodological opportunities, epistemological questions and demands for critical reflection.
In this broad field of multidisciplinary research, HSSH was especially looking for candidates to contribute to the scientific understanding of competing and contested epistemic communities in datafied societies, and sound data-centric research practices in the humanities and social sciences.
Dayei Oh, Narges Azizi Fard and Feeza Vasudeva started in the postdoctoral researcher positions in August 2022
“I’m originally from South Korea where I got my undergraduate degree in psychology, and for my Master’s and PhD I moved to UK, where I got my MA in Media and Communication from University of Nottingham and PhD in Social Sciences from Loughborough University,” Dayei Oh says.
At HSSH Oh works at the Datafication program brainstorming on ideas at the intersection of digital technologies, public spheres, and democratic discourse. Additionally, she works with digital populism studies with the Emotions, Populism and Polarisation research team (HEPP) at Helsinki with Emilia Palonen, one of the Datafication program leaders.
Oh is also interested in the American abortion discourse and hopes to research this in the future, focusing on fetus personhood, how personhood is defined and how digital technologies influence it.
Narges Azizi Fard did her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in computer engineering in Iran. She has also worked as a research assistant in South Korea and got her PhD in computer science in Italy.
“My research effort is related to computational social science which involves the application of computational methods and data-intensive machine learning tasks to solve societal issues at scale like health, poverty, education, sustainability, ageing, etc. My focus at HSSH will be on developing computational indicators and analysis methods that can be used to study the datafication of society and contested epistemies and epistemic communities in online environments,” Azizi Fard says.
In her research so far, she has focused for example on analyzing Londoners food consumption through social media, modeling the connection between educational attainment and food purchases, and characterizing the cultural aspects of countries through Wiki Loves Monuments image datasets.
Feeza Vasudeva comes from an interdisciplinary background, from Economic to International Relations and Cultural Studies. She came to the University of Helsinki from National Yang Ming Chiao Tung University in Taiwan.
“For my doctoral thesis, I was one of the first few to analyze the violence of lynchings in India wherein after the contemporary rise of Hindu nationalist movement, Muslims and Dalit communities were increasingly becoming the victims of horrific mob violence. This research situated lynching within network of relations and strategies of governance that were part of a changing and more polarizing India,” Vasudeva says.
At HSSH Vasudeva is looking at the datafication of society. Her personal interest is to explore the datafication in relation to critical qualitive perspective while working with researchers who are experts in computational data.
”Data permeates almost all aspects of our life – from socio-cultural to political. Yet, it affects are only now being studied from an inter-disciplinary critical perspective,” she says.
Enjoying the calm and stressfree work environment in Helsinki
All three postdoctoral researchers have come to the University of Helsinki, and to Finland, from different backgrounds and countries, but have enjoyed their life in Helsinki so far.
”It has been an interesting contrast and change fly to from Taiwan to Finland. Culturally, both countries are different but still share many commonalities, for example both Finnish and Taiwanese people are quite helpful and hospitable,” Feeza Vasudeva says.
Narges Azizi Fard has enjoyed the calm and non-stressful work environment, and adds that Helsinki is a beautiful city. Dayei Oh has especially enjoyed the architecture of Helsinki and mentions the beautiful interior of the Helsinki University Library.
“Summer and white nights have been nice, but I’m looking forward to the winter, going to the sauna and avanto,” Oh says.