HSSH November Newsletter 11/2023

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 Risto Kunelius, Juho Pääkkönen & Matti Pohjonen on 5.12.


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 5.12. Risto Kunelius, Juho Pääkkönen & Matti Pohjonen will talk about Cloud-C, a transnational network for studying mediated climate politics in social media. Bring your own lunch, we bring fresh methodological topics!

Read more about the event on our website!


EU's Horizon Europe funding for HSSH affiliated projects


Last year HSSH, together with UH's Research Funding Services, implemented a pilot project offering distinguished researchers support for writing the Horizon Europe consortium application.

Two horizon funding were awarded to UH-led consortia based in the Helsinki Hub on Emotions, Populism and Polarisation (HEPP) research group led by Emilia Palonen who is one of the three datafication research program directors at the HSSH. Both projects are a result of a bottom-up process with external funding for in-person planning meetings. Mikko Salmela received the HSSH funding and training, as well as funding from Uudenmaan liitto, for the writing of the Politics of Grievance and Democratic Governance (PLEDGE) horizon bid. The COntinuous COnstruction of resilient social COntracts through societal transformations (CO3) was written in close collaboration between Emilia Palonen and Anna Björk and the experienced team at Demos Helsinki who will lead the consortium from late 2024. The total funding from the European Commission for the two consortia is circa 6 million euros and 1.4 million euros are directed to UH in the grant signing stage.

”Our UH teams were busy in the autumn with preparations of launching the two projects, and it feels great now when we are finalising the agreements and look forward to the kick-off meeting in Athens in February 2024 for PLEDGE and Helsinki for CO3,” Salmela and Palonen say.

The support from the HSSH Methodological Unit is involved in both applications, and some of the funding is channeled there in data support and development of new audiovisual methods.

Emilia Palonen is excited about the new research in both cases methodologically addressing multilingual and multi-cultural analysis of social media, particularly short videos in the context of the European Parliamentary Elections in June 2024. "In this also questions of the continuous negotiation of the social contract, especially after the crisis or in a polycrisis is relevant for the future of democracy in Europe."

Mikko Salmela is thrilled about PLEDGE that will study how citizens' grievances develop into democratic and anti-democratic forms of emotional politics. "It is crucial to know more of these two trajectories to be able to create practises and policies that can effectively counter reactionist and authoritarian tendencies and promote democratic civic engagement."

Another HSSH affiliated project funding was awarded to a project with HSSH’s Matti Pohjonen as a collaborator. Read more about the project here.


HSSH as a partner in EU Horizon project on authoritarian states’ control of information


A new EU Horizon project led by CMI (Chr. Michelsen Institute) in Bergen, Norway, explores different mechanisms of authoritarian information suppression globally. Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and humanities is a partner in the project with work led by university researcher Matti Pohjonen from HSSH’s Methodological Unit.

The EU Horizon project ‘ARM: The long arm of authoritarian states’ aims to provide an in-depth conceptual and practical understanding of how authoritarian states worldwide have used and continue to use information suppression as a strategy to control the narratives that are told about them, also beyond their national borders. More specifically, the project will analyse how Russia, China, Ethiopia and Rwanda suppress and eradicate independent voices and information, with a special focus on how this information suppression affects EU states and diaspora communities that have settled in the EU. One outcome of the project will be a practitioners’ toolkit on how to counter it.

HSSH will lead a work plan on Ethiopia and will contribute to the project’s Ethics and Data Management. A Twitter dataset of over 90 million tweets on the Tigray War in Ethiopia (2020–2022) collected by Matti Pohjonen will be used in the project. The project will also host a PhD researcher participating in the project for the duration of three years.

“The dynamics through which different governments suppress information – not only through censorship but also by flooding the communication channels with noise and misinformation – is one of the most pressing questions in contemporary global digital politics. The new Horizon project will provide much-needed conceptual, methodological and empirical insight into understanding this growing phenomenon,” Matti Pohjonen notes.


Vytautas Kavolis Institute payed a visit to HSSH in Helsinki


This week, 15.11.-17.11.2023, members of the Vytautas Kavolis transdisciplinary research institute from Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania were hosted by HSSH at the University of Helsinki.

The members of the Vytautas Kavolis delegation were the head of the institute, Doc. dr. Jurga Bučaitė-Vilkė, Research group leader prof. Natalija Mazeikiene, project manager dr. Gintare Poce and researchers dr. Modesta Morkevičiūtė and Gytis Dovydaitis.

The Vytautas Kavolis Institute is a newly established institution that conducts fundamental and applied research in humanities, social sciences, and related fields. Their profile resonates nicely with HSSH’s and the prospects for mutually beneficial future collaboration between institutes and universities look very promising.

The objectives of the visit were to understand how interdisciplinary research is promoted and organized in the University of Helsinki, to learn the structure and the operational principles of HSSH and to know how HSSH is resourced and how the relations with its five founding faculties are arranged.

The visit was successful with many interesting presentations, talks and discussions. The atmosphere was very warm and relaxed and a lot was learned by all parties and plans for collaboration in the future were put in place.


Catalyst Grant funding in 2024


The aim of the Catalyst Grant funding is to provide modest but strategical support for launching initiatives, collecting and sharing new data, acquiring and sharing research equipment, and building new contacts and networks between research groups. We received 57 high quality proposals which were assessed by 2-3 independent reviewers each. The evaluation process paid attention to the following criteria: testing and developing new ideas, multidisciplinarity, the feasibility of suggested action, and promise of added value for other researchers in the SSH field beyond the applying research group. Successful applications were strong on several of the criteria.

Congratulations to all the funded projects! The next Catalyst Grant call for applications will open in autumn 2024.

Read more about the funded project here.


FinETS Event 2024 in Helsinki


After our wonderful kick-off event, the planning for our next FinETS event has officially started!

This time, our FinETS seminar will be organized by the Faculty of Educational Sciences (University of Helsinki) and the Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH), and it will take place on 13th & 14th of February 2024 in Helsinki (Siltavuorenpenger)In addition to the organizing institutions, this seminar is being sponsored by Seetrue Technologies!

The rough, preliminary program will be:

13.02.2024, 17:00-19:00:  Informal, social gathering at Sori Taproom in Helsinki (Vuorikatu 16)

14.02.2024, 09:30-15:00: FinETS Seminar including:

  • Our keynote speech by Professor Markku Hannula on Why to use eye-tracking in educational research?
  • A panel discussion with our invited panelists:
    • Dr. Ilona Södervik, Senior Lecturer at the Department of Education (University of Helsinki)
    • Miika Toivanen, Algorithm Developer at SeeTrue Technologies
    • Saswati Chaudhuri, Doctoral Researcher at the Department of Teacher Education (University of Jyväskylä)

...and many more!

Do you have any questions or ideas for the seminar? Don't hesitate to contact the local organizing team via finets2024@helsinki.fi.

Register for the seminar here.

We hope to see many of you in Helsinki in February 2024!


11.-13.12. Fourth Helsinki Conference on Emotions, Populism, and Polarised Politics


We are excited to announce the upcoming Fourth Helsinki Conference on Emotions, Populism, and Polarised Politics (HEPP4), scheduled to be held from December 11th to 13th, 2023, at the University of Helsinki. Following the main conference, a special Symposium Day will take place at the University of Lapland, Rovaniemi, on December 14th.

Over the recent years, the Helsinki Conference on Emotions, Populism, and Polarised Politics (HEPP) has been actively exploring themes related to populist mobilizations. The 2023 edition will expand its thematic scope to address the growing phenomenon of ethno-nationalism. We are also drawing on our Horizon2020 project on Deradicalisation in Europe and beyond, as well as Datafication of the Society Project amongst others. Key areas of exploration include the emergence of grievances, alienation, and polarization, along with an investigation into the rise of religious populism, the formation of epistemic communities, and the logic of datafied forms of communication contributing to polarization. We are also interested in exploring the concepts of "North" and "South," the relationship between them globally and locally, as well as the hegemonic struggle in this field.

We anticipate lively theoretical and empirical discussions on these crucial themes and more, with 170 participants confirmed from various parts of Europe, as well as attendees from India, South Africa, Brazil, Australia, Argentina, and the United States.

Join us at this the conference which promises to be a unique platform for shaping the future of scholarly conversations in this rapidly evolving field.

The conference is freely accessible on Teams for the UH Faculty and students. Register for onsite attendance by 30 November at https://onlinepayments.it.helsinki.fi/product/helsinki-conference-on-emotions-populism-and-polarisation/

For further information about our keynotes, panels, and additional highlights, please visit our official conference website: https://www.helsinki.fi/en/conferences/emotions-populism-and-polarised-politics-media-and-culture/hepp4


5.12. lecture with Mercedes Barros: A Populist Feminism? Reflections from the Global South


As part of her visit to Finland from Argentina to Helsinki,  Mercedes Barros will deliver the Christina Seminar lecture or SKY Talk on 5 December. This is organized by the SKY Doctoral School in Gender Studies. All are very welcome to join this talk and discuss the connections between feminism and populism that challenges the synonymisation of populism as with the anti-gender and anti-migrant rhetoric of the far right.

Location: University of Helsinki Main Building, Fabianinkatu 30, F3010 

Time: 5 December, 16-18.


In this presentation, I propose to address the problematic link between feminism and populism. Given the rise of both phenomena on the global socio-political scene, it is timely to problematise their association as well as the (un)desired effects of their coexistence. Much has been written about the incompatibility of populist politics with feminist advances. Indeed, it is very common to find studies from different geographical contexts explaining how populist regimes and leaderships represent a step backwards in gender claims, and how gender has come to play a central role in drawing the political boundaries of authoritarian scenarios and the polarisation of contemporary populisms. Contrary to these popular views, however, populism has also been associated with the advance of feminist demands, and theorising has begun to explore the possibilities of a 'populist and plebeian feminism'.

The central aim of this paper is to show how, in the face of this disagreement, it is crucial, on the one hand, to begin to take into account the situated character that should be privileged in the analysis of the relationship between feminism and populism, and, on the other hand, to make the idea of populism more complex in order to identify its differences with other forms of political practice (authoritarian, democratic or fascist). It is interesting to show that if populism can be conceived as a particular logic of articulation of political discourse, rather than as a homogeneous regime with a left-right orientation or with liberal or illiberal characteristics, it can also be conceived as one way - among others - of doing feminist politics and constructing the feminist people.

Mercedes Barros holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Buenos Aires and a Master of Arts and Ph.D. in Ideology and Discourse Analysis from the University of Essex, UK. She was a Chevening Awards Fellow, a Leche Trust Fellow, and Fundación Estenssoro Fellow. She is currently a researcher at the Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (National Council for Scientific and Technical Research). She teaches at undergraduate and postgraduate levels at the Universidad Nacional de Córdoba, the Universidad de Buenos Aires, and the Universidad Nacional de Río Negro. She has been invited to give courses and seminars at the University of Essex (UK), the Universidad Nacional de la Patagonia San Juan Bosco, the Universidad Católica de Córdoba, the Universidad Nacional de La Rioja, and the Universidad Nacional de Chaco. Throughout her career as a researcher, she has directed several projects funded by agencies of the Argentinean scientific-technological system. Since 2020 she co-directs the research project "Populismo, democracia y estado de derecho: un estudio sobre las reconfiguraciones de los derechos en las experiencias políticas en Argentina" and since 2021, the project "Reconfiguraciones y nuevas emergencias memoriales sobre el pasado reciente: disputas, narrativas, actores y políticas durante los años del ascenso de la derecha en Argentina (2008 -2019)". Her current line of research focuses on the study of the specific ways in which the language of rights is articulated in political discourse. Her most recent publications include the book Discourse and Human Rights Movement in Argentina (2012); and the co-edited volume Ideología, Estado, Universidad. Pensamiento Crítico desde el Sur, (2019) and Métodos. Aproximaciones a un campo problemático (2017) and several articles in national and international scientific journals.


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