HSSH January Newsletter 1/2024

Recent news and upcoming events at HSSH – read more below and don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter!
  • Brown Bag Seminar every Tuesday at 12.15 – next session with Antti Honkela on 6.2.
  • Update your research group information for HSSH network affiliation
  • HSSH’s Matti Pohjonen on tour in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
  • University Researcher Heta Moustgaard from the HSSH Methodological Unit recruited to a new position
  • MPlus and WinSteps/Facets licences to lend
  • 7.2. Book launch: Epistemic Ambivalence – Pentecostalism and Candomblé in a Brazilian City at Sheffield University and online


Brown Bag Seminar every Tuesday at 12.15 – next session with Antti Honkela on 6.2.


The Methodological Unit of HSSH hosts a weekly event, Brown Bag Seminar, to highlight novel methodological approaches in humanities and social sciences.

The seminars are organized as hybrid events. You’re warmly welcome to join us at the HSSH Seminar Room, Vuorikatu 3, room 524, 5th floor, or on Zoom.

Click here to add the Brown Bag Seminar events directly to your calendar (.ics file).

According to a researcher at the Methodological Unit, Matti Pohjonen, the idea of the meetings “is to introduce methodological innovations and cutting-edge research in various disciplines in an easily accessible manner and have an interdisciplinary discussion in an easy-going atmosphere over lunch.”

Every Tuesday at 12.15. In the next meeting on 6.2. Antti Honkela will talk about differential privacy and anonymising data. Bring your own lunch, we bring fresh methodological topics!

Read more about the event on our website!


Update your research group information for HSSH network affiliation


HSSH has launched a new Research Group Survey and invites all active research groups at the City Centre Campus to update their information, interests and needs.

“We hope research groups already affiliated with the HSSH network to update their information and at the same time, we invite new research groups to join in”, HSSH director Risto Kunelius says.

“Based on the feedback of our first-round survey in 2021 we have streamlined the questionnaire. It is now easier and quicker to fill out – and that we will be able use the information more effectively.”

“We know that nobody particularly loves the constant flood of questionnaires and e-forms. But for us at HSSH to be able to serve the campus research groups and develop ideas for support, an updated map of the field is really important”, Kunelius adds.

HSSH will use the collected information to create an accessible database on the research groups of the UH City Centre Campus. The database will include the topics, data, methods and contact people of research groups to provide information for networking and collaboration between groups.

The mission of the Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH) is to support multidisciplinary research networks, facilitate cooperation between research groups and advance methodological development at the City Centre Campus of the University of Helsinki (UH).

Fill the survey here.


HSSH’s Matti Pohjonen on tour in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia


Matti Pohjonen is a University Researcher at HSSH's methodological unit. He works at the intersection of digital anthropology, philosophy and digital methods, developing research approaches for understanding digital cultures and digital politics in a comparative global context.

In January, Matti has travelled in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia where he has been participating in several events, holding lectures and workshops. The events have covered topics such as electoral disinformation, datafication, content moderation, digital research methodologies and generative AI.

“I had a unique opportunity to go spend a few weeks in different institutions and universities in the region sharing ideas from HSSH with colleagues. There is a lot of interest in the type of work we have been developing over the past few years and I believe this type of mutual knowledge transfer and collaboration can benefit universities in the region but also researchers at the University of Helsinki”, Matti said

For example, at the KISIP 2024 conference in Indonesia addressing the challenge of political disinformation in the upcoming 2024 Indonesian election, Matti talked about political disinformation & content moderation “folklore” in a comparative perspective. This concept moves focus of research away from what “platforms do” to also “what people think platforms do” to address how social media communities globally feel and create myths about often mysterious and opaque content moderation policies and the algorithms that drive them.

“The lively event in Jakarta with over 130 people in attendance showed the challenges countries face globally with political disinformation but also how these issues are often refracted in different ways in countries such as Indonesia. I was surprised, for instance, to find out the preliminary research suggests there might be much less disinformation in Indonesian elections in 2024 as compared to the 2019 elections. This would run contrary to what most colleagues have been discussing in Europe and the US,” Matti said.

Matti also visited the State University of Surabaya in Surabaya, Indonesia, to present a keynote lecture on “Digital Society: Europe experiences and its future in Indonesia” and discussed with colleagues about their new proposed MA degree in Digital Society and possible collaboration with Helsinki.

He also visited the University of Brawijaya in Malang, Indonesia, where he presented a keynote lecture on “Datafication as a Theory and Method: Present and Future Challenges for Global and Comparative Contexts” to around 40 staff members from the Faculty of Cultural Studies. He also met the Dean and the Vice-Rector to discuss possibilities for future collaboration as they hope to develop data-driven methods and approaches for cultural studies’ research in the region.

Matti also travelled to Singapore where he gave a discussion titled “Some Reflections on Latent or Synthetic Ethnography” to staff members of Quilt.ai, an AI company specializing in the use of AI, large-scale datasets sourced from the internet together with interpretive approaches from anthropology to gain culturally situated insights into global market trends.

His planned talk at the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) was postponed to a later date because of proposed airport strike in Finland, which forced Matti to return to snowy Finland a few days earlier.

Click here to view photos from the tour.


University Researcher Heta Moustgaard from the HSSH Methodological Unit recruited to a new position


University Researcher Heta Moustgaard leaves HSSH to join the research arm of the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela). Her work as a senior researcher begins February 1.

“It has been inspiring and educational to work in such a multidisciplinary environment and to see the methodological diversity and development at the City Centre Campus,” Heta says.

“At Kela, I will work on questions related to social inequalities in health and well-being, using their exceptional register data.”

“Heta has been a brilliant co-worker and a driving force in the building of the HSSH method support. We are sad to miss her, but will be happy to see her thrive in her new position. For demographer, sociologist and a public health scientist whose research focuses on social inequalities in health and wellbeing, Kela offers a special context”, HSSH director Risto Kunelius says.

The Methodological Unit of HSSH offers support in questions related to data management, methodology and infrastructure. HSSH will open the vacant position later this spring.


MPlus and WinSteps/Facets licences to lend


Do you need MPlus or WinSteps/Facets? Centre Campus researchers can borrow licenses to these programs from HSSH. Ask Visku or Sointu: visajaani.salonen@helsinki.fi; sointu.leikas@helsinki.fi


7.2. Book launch: Epistemic Ambivalence – Pentecostalism and Candomblé in a Brazilian City at Sheffield University and online


The UI are hosting a book launch for Dr Krzysztof Nawratek who has co-authored a new open access book, published by Routledge, with his colleagues Daniel Medeiros de Freitas, Carolina Maria Soares Lima and Bernardo Miranda Pataro.

You are invited to join us for this hybrid event which will take place on Wednesday 7th February 2024 1500-1700 in Workroom 2, The Wave, University of Sheffield, Whitham Road, S10 2AH. Those attending in person are also invited to a drink’s reception afterwards.

The launch will include a talk from Krzysztof about the context and genesis of the project, followed by contributions from all co-authors - DanielCarolina and Bernardo. We will then have responses from 3 academics: Beth Perry and Landon Peck, The University of Sheffield and Paul-Francois Tremlett, The Open University.

This transdisciplinary book delves into the complex relationship between religious imaginaries and the perception of space among followers of Candomblé and Pentecostal churches in Belo Horizonte, Brazil's third-largest urban agglomeration.

It adopts a dual perspective, examining the broader political, economic, and social dimensions of these religious communities' urbanisation and spatial distribution and their members' individual beliefs and behaviours. Through this approach, the book aims to provide a nuanced and insider's view of these religious positions, challenging our preconceived notions of urban spaces and contributing to the larger discussion of decolonial urban theory and spatialised post-secular thought.

Read more and sign up here.

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