The consortium consists of four PIs with established academic expertise in the study of digital death. The disciplinary expertise of the PIs includes study of media and communications, digital anthropology, sociology of death, study of religions and theology, philosophy of technology, and history of death. The PIs represent diverse European and academic geographies and cultures including Northern European (Finland and Denmark), Western European (UK) and Eastern European (Romania) scholarship.
University of Helsinki, Finland

Consortium leader, Professor Johanna Sumiala, University of Helsinki, is a Professor of Media and Communication Studies and a specialist in social theory, study of death and ritual and digital anthropology. Dr. Sumiala has published extensively in this research field (Sumiala 2021, 2003) Sumiala maintains an active role within the Finnish, Nordic, and European death studies networks. She has directed and co-directed several interdisciplinary research projects funded by the Academy of Finland as well as Kone Foundation and Helsingin Sanomat Foundation.

Anu A Harju, Ph.D., is a Senior Research Fellow at the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki. Her recent research focuses on death, violence and digital media with special interest in mediated practices of memorialisation, digital afterlife, and politics of remembering. Her latest publications include “#hellobrother needs to trend”: Methodological reflections on the digital and emotional afterlife of mediated violence, International Review of Sociology (2021) with Jukka Huhtamäki; Special Issue on Encounters between Violence and Media, International Journal of Communication (2023) guest edited with Noora Kotilainen; and Streaming death: terrorist violence and the digital afterlife of difficult death with Jukka Huhtamäki, forthcoming in S. Coleclough, B. Michael-Fox & R. Visser (Eds.), Difficult Death: Challenging Cultural Representations of Death, Dying and the Dead in Media and Culture (Palgrave). 

Linda Pentikäinen is a social psychologist and PHD student in Media and Communication Studies. Pentikäinen is studying emotion construction linked to death and dying on social media. The study provides an understanding of death-based emotions and cultural settings surrounding death practices and understanding regarding the role of social media when studying contemporary mourning practices.

University of Durham, United Kingdom

Professor Douglas Davies, Durham University, is one of the world-leading figures in death studies with an outstanding publication record in the field. Dr. Davies also runs the Centre for Death and Life Studies at Durham University. His publications cover areas such as history, anthropology and theology of death and death rituals (Davies 2011).

Georgina M. Robinson is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Theology and Religion and Centre for Death-Life Studies at Durham University. Since the final year of her Bachelor of Arts degree, Georgina’s research interests have been grounded in the field of death studies. Over the last few years, Georgina’s research has primarily been concerned with innovation at the end of life. Her PhD research – ‘Alkaline Hydrolysis: The Future of British Death-Styles' – was the first study of alkaline hydrolysis in the United Kingdom. Georgina’s current research and contribution to the DiDe project is focused on developing ‘histories’ of digital death. Alongside her research, Georgina enjoys teaching on undergraduate modules at Durham, sits on the Advisory Board of Durham University’s Centre for Death-Life Studies and is a Council Member of the Association for the Study of Death and Society. 

University of Bucharest, Romania

Assistant Professor Adela Toplean, University of Bucharest, and a Research Fellow Alumni in New Europe College, is a sociologist of death. While a junior academic, her research is well networked in the European context and her expertise in sociology and epistemology of death studies adds unique value to the consortium (Toplean 2016).

Maria Chiribeș graduated from Sociology BSc and is currently studying at Master's level at the University of Bucharest. Her previous research activities foster qualitative means and approach online communities as well as offline practices. Maria is studying how the new generation of digital natives relates to the (prospective) experience of death. 

University of Aarhus, Denmark

Associate Professor Dorthe Refslund Christensen, Aarhus University, has been a key figure in establishing and developing Nordic research and collaboration in the field of Death Online studies. Dr. Christensen has published widely on mediation of death (Christensen et al., 2017) and is the editor of the Routledge book series “Studies in Death, Materiality and Origin of Time” and the Emerald short format book series “Sharing Death Online”.

Dr. Mórna O’Connor is a grief researcher from Ireland, with a degree in Applied Psychology (University College Cork, Ireland), Certificate in Grief Counselling (Institute of Counselling, Glasgow, Scotland), and PhD in Health Science (University of Nottingham, United Kingdom). Mórna researches the intersection of grief and the digital, asking: what it is to grieve in the digital age?; how do the often vast and voluminous digital traces of our departed figure in modern grieving?; how are digital environments and grief shaping one another?; and what griefs are enabled and curtailed in contemporary digital environments and infrastructures?

Recent publications include 'What grief isn't: Dead grief concepts and their digital-age revival' (O'Connor and Kasket, 2022); Doctoral thesis 'Grief and deceased-related digital culture: An exploratory, longitudinal, qualitative inquiry' (O'Connor, 2021); and 'Posthumous digital material: Does it ‘live on’ in survivors’ accounts of their dead?' (O'Connor, 2020). 

Affiliated Consortium Members

Dr. Christopher Bratton, Director, Center for Arts, Design and Social Research (CAD+SR), Boston, USA

Dr. Sam Han, Lecturer in Sociology, Brunel University London, UK

Dr. Yasmin Jiwani, Professor of Communication Studies, Concordia University, Canada

Dr. Paula Kiel, Media and Communication Studies, LSE, UK

Dr. Petter Korkman, Coordinator, TIUKU: Public Information Cultural Factory, Helsinki. Finland 

Dr. Tal Morse, Adjunct Lecturer, Hadassah Academic College, Jerusalem, Israel

Mika Myllyaho, Director, The Finnish National Theatre, Helsinki, Finland

Dr. Katarzyna Nowaczyk-Basinska, Research Fellow at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, University of Cambridge, UK

Dr. Marietta Radomska, Assistant Professor in Environmental Humanities, Director of The Eco- and Bioart Lab, Linköping University, Sweden

Dr. Ylva Hård af Segerstad, Associate Professor in Applied Information Technology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden

Advisory Board

Amanda Lagerkvist, Professor, Uppsala University, Sweden

Lagerkvist is a leading expert in media philosophy, existential media studies, philosophy of death, vulnerability and AI (Lagerkvist 2022, 2019).

John Durham Peters, Professor, Yale University, USA

Peters is one of the world-leading media philosophers whose work addresses issues of life and death, technology and humanity (Peters 2000).

Tony Walter, Professor Emeritus, University of Bath, UK

Walter’s seminal work on the sociology of death, particularly on the relationship between death, society, and media, is of utmost significance in the field (Walter 2008, 1994).

Terhi Utriainen, Professor University of Turku, Finland

Utriainen is a scholar of study of religions with a special emphasis on ritual, everyday religiosity, death and vernacular spiritualities (Utriainen 2020.)