Meet the MERELPO project team.
Katja Valaskivi

Katja Valaskivi is Professor in Religious Studies and Media Research and heads the Helsinki Research Hub on Religion, Media and Social Change (Heremes). She is also one of the three research directors in the datafication research programme at the Helsinki Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities (HSSH). She specializes in datafication and mediatization of religions, belief systems, worldwiews and ideologies and has developed multi-method approaches for the study of  disruptive, hybrid media events such as terror attacks and natural disasters. Valaskivi is currently the PI in research projects on mediatized religious populism, politics of conspiracy theories as well as the circulation of extremism in the dark web and beyond. She co-chairs the Nordic Network on Religion, Media and Populism (Norempo) and is Advisory Board member in the International Society of Media, Religion and Culture (ISMRC). 

Johanna Sumiala

Johanna Sumiala is Professor at Media and Communication Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki. In recent years her work has focused on theoretical and empirical analyses of mediations of religion and death in the contemporary hybrid media environment. Her research on media and communications is inspired by social theory and anthropology, especially ritual studies. She is also interested in learning more about digital methods.

Sumiala has directed and co-directed several interdisciplinary research projects funded by Academy of Finland, Kone Foundation and Helsingin Sanomat Foundation. She is currently senior visiting Fellow at LSE (2020-2022). She is author of several journal articles and books. Her most recent books include: Mediated Death (Polity, 2021),  Hybrid Media Events: The Charlie Hebdo Attacks and Global Circulation of Terrorist Violence (2018, Emerald, co-authored with K. Valaskivi, M. Tikka & J. Huhtamäki), and Media and Ritual. Death, Community and Everyday Life (2013, Routledge).

Niko Pyrhönen

Niko Pyrhönen works as a university researcher in the Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki. His areas of expertise include radical right mobilization (DSocSc, 2015), hybrid mediatization of conspiracy theories and nationalist news framing practices and transnational remediation of news items. He was the co-initiator of the research project Mobilizing the Disenfranchised in Finland, France and the United States (MobDis, 2017 – 2018) focusing on transnational trajectories of countermedia news production. He currently works in the research projects Extremist Networks, Narcotics and Criminality in Online Darknet Environments (ENNCODE, 2020 – 2022).

Kaisa Tiusanen

Kaisa Tiusanen works as a postdoctoral researcher in the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki. Her areas of special interest include Cultural Studies perspectives into contemporary mediated culture, especially in connection with lifestyle, food, health, and religion. Her doctoral dissertation titled Nice Food, Good People. Technologies of Subjectivity and class distinction in media texts about the right kind of food was published in 2023 (Tampere University).