Workshop “Words and Actions. Political text mining” – January 13-14

Workshop “Words and Actions. Political text mining” January 13-14, 2020, University of Helsinki, Finland

The “Words and Actions” project hosts a two-day international workshop on advanced methods of textual analysis used to address complex and theoretically rich questions coming from sociology, political science and history.

The workshop focuses on three methodological approaches to texts. First, it presents novel techniques of supervised machine learning applied for automated annotation of texts. These techniques enable scaling up of theory-rich qualitative research approaches, such as discourse network analysis. The second approach introduces quantitative methods of semantic analysis as tools for a fine-grained study of social and political change used by conceptual historians and political sociologists. Third, the workshop aims at exploring the use of vector representations of textual data – such as word embeddings –for nurturing research which takes into account multi-dimensionality of cultural and political space.

Attendance is free. Please register by clicking here

Venue: University of Helsinki, Unioninkatu 33, room 303 (entrance from Unioninkatu)

Contact: Juulia Heikkinen (

Organizer: Andrey Indukaev (

Funded by the Future Development Fund, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki


January 13

8.30 – Welcome coffee and snacks

9.00-9.15 – Opening words. Andrey Indukaev (University of Helsinki)

9.15-11.45 – Session 1. Quantitative conceptual history

Jani Marjanen (University of Helsinki): The case for quantitative conceptual history

10.00-10.20 – Coffee break

Paul Nulty (University College Dublin): Word association measures for building semantic networks

Lidia Pivovarova (University of Helsinki): Political term clustering for historical newspaper analysis

12.00-13.00 – Lunch break

13.15-17.45 – Session 2. Automating annotation and discourse networks analysis

Félix Krawatzek (ZIOS Berlin): Tracing shifting meanings of youth through discourse network analysis

Erenay Dayanik (University of Stuttgart): Towards computational construction of discourse networks for political debates

14.45-15.15 – Coffee break

Nico Blokker (University of Bremen): Semi-automatic construction of discourse networks from newspaper articles

Gregor Wiedemann (University of Hamburg): Active learning for text classification: lessons from automated content analysis of party manifestos and Facebook user comments

Veikko Eranti (University of Helsinki): Going Overboard: Politicization in an anonymous online community.

January 14

9.00-11.45 – Session 3. From vector representations of words to multi-dimensional space of political discourse?

Måns Magnusson (Aalto University): Using priors to capture concepts of interest in large corpora

9.45-10.15 – Coffee break

Kirill Maslinsky (Higher School of Economics, Saint-Petersburg): New emotional vectors of the political regime: the case of Khrushchev’s Thaw in children’s literature

Andrey Indukaev (University of Helsinki): Mapping ideational change in the political space with word embeddings: the case of ‘Modernization’ in contemporary Russia

12.00-13.00 – Lunch break

13.15-15.30 – Session 4. Quantifying evaluation and justification

Daniel Knuchel (University of Zurich): Conzeptualizations of ‘New’ AIDS in German-speaking Discourse – Corpus Linguistic Studies

Eeva Luhtakallio (University of Helsinki) & Jyrki Rasku (University of Tampere): ImagiDem: Visual politicization and deep learning

Andrey Indukaev (University of Helsinki): Automating complex theory-driven annotation: experimenting with Justification Theory

15.30-16.00 – Coffee break

Persuasion, Conspiracy Thinking and the Securitisation of Information in Russia and Beyond – 4 April 2019

The STRAPPA project is hosting an afternoon seminar on 4 April on ‘Persuasion, conspiracy thinking and the securitisation of information in Russia and beyond’. We are very happy that several of our network partners will join us to share their research (for the full programme and list of speakers, see below).

Attendance is free, but registration in advance is required. Please register by 29 March by clicking here.

Persuasion, Conspiracy Thinking and the Securitisation of Information in Russia and Beyond

4 April 2019, 13:15-16:30 – Aleksanteri Institute, 2nd floor meeting room

13:15-13:45 – Introduction

Strategies of Persuasion – Russian Propaganda in the Algorithmic Age

Mariëlle Wijermars, University of Helsinki

13:45-14:45 – Session 1

Curation, legitimation and populist communication: the packaging of global politics on RT (Russia Today)

Precious Chatterje-Doody, University of Manchester

In recent years, Russia’s state-funded international broadcaster RT (Russia Today) has become the focus of significant international scrutiny: British MPs have debated a ban; France has denied accreditation to RT France journalists; and the network was forced to register as a foreign agent in the USA. Even the network’s former Head of Social recognises the “toxic” nature of the brand. In the face of such challenges, how does RT package its outputs in ways intended to resonate with target audiences? This paper introduces 3 core tactics in RT’s playbook: curation of topics and expertise; (de)legitimation of key players’ actions; and use of populist communication logics.

The world according to the truthseekers: Conspiracy and the everyday on RT

Ilya Yablokov, University of Leeds

What is the US government involved in to conspire against its citizens and other good-willing people in the world? What happened on 9/11? Why the US is interested in spreading LGBT propaganda in Russia? How does the world look like according to the famous conspiracy theorist Jesse Ventura? This paper is dedicated to RT’s most overtly conspiratorial output: the shows ‘The Truthseeker’ and ‘The World According to Jesse Ventura’. These shows explicitly designed to seek out facts that established institutions and power structures have allegedly sought to cover up. The two programmes under investigation date from the network’s inception, and its present-day programming respectively. My analysis reveals an evolution over time in the representational strategies used to convey conspiracy theories on RT. I provide the framework to understand how conspiracy theories operate over time since 2010, when RT launched its broadcasting in the US, and I explore how these theories are being applied to seek support of various subnational communities inside the US.

14:45-15:00 – Coffee break

15:00-16:00 – Session 2

Persuasion, mockery, and ambiguity: Recent changes in pro-state discourse on Runet

Vera Zvereva, University of Jyväskylä

This paper focuses on the discursive convergence of the pro-state mainstream media, social media as used by Russian state officials, and the more dubious resources associated with the Federal News Agency (FAN) and with pro-Kremlin trolls. It aims to demonstrate that the boundaries between them are becoming harder to define. Thus, the ambiguity of messages has become more central to the language of political communication in Russian digital media. On the one hand, part of the FAN media shares the agenda of RIA Novosti, RT, and others, and multiplies and refracts their news, opinions, and interpretations on the Internet, keeping readers within the circle of resources and the discursive space that they try to manage. On the other hand, the media discourse of Russian officials themselves has become so rich in street parlance, undiplomatic language, and features of trolling that what they say no longer stands out against the background of speech by less respectable media agents.

Information-psychological warfare in Russian security strategy

Katri Pynnöniemi, University of Helsinki and National Defence University

Information-psychological warfare comes in many disguises. This paper analyses assumptions underlying the contemporary Russian debate on information warfare. The focus is on research literature and other writings that can be thought of contributing to the formation of Russian security strategy.

16:00-16:30 Concluding remarks

(Politics of) Digital Humanities in Eastern European Studies

On  10-11 September 2018 in Helsinki, there will be organized a joint workshop of the Herder Institute for Historical Research on East Central Europe and the Aleksanteri Institute (University of Helsinki).

Discourses about the essence of Digital Humanities (DH) became very frequent in the last decade. While digital mega-projects increasingly attract large research funding both on national and on European level, a large number of  questions regarding the added value of DH tools, the robustness of methodological approaches and vulnerabilities of infrastructure remain open.

This workshop – the first of a series on the challenges of DH in Europe, with a special focus on Eastern Europe – takes up a challenge to reflect on ‘digital turn’ in the context of area studies. In doing so, this event formulates questions on concrete strategies, policies and main actors shaping and constructing this field.

In a world going ever more digital, ideas, images and practices necessitate a rethinking and reconceptualization to capture the changes of research methods and infrastructures both at the national and regional levels. To investigate these connections and interdependencies, scholars with methodological and theoretical approaches from various disciplines such as history, art history, political sciences, sociology and digital humanities are invited to submit their proposals.

Venue: Aleksanteri Institute, Unioninkatu 33, Helsinki, 2d floor (meeting room)
Organization and Concept by Eszter Gantner, Daria Gritsenko

Check program here.

Hack­a­thon presentation on Finnish-Russian media research at #DHH18

The members of the DRS researcher group Dr. Daria Gritsenko and postdoctoral researcher Andrey Indukaev have been supervisors at the Hel­sinki Di­gital Hu­man­it­ies Hack­a­thon #DHH18 which is organized on 23 May – 1 June 2018 . The group leaded by them has been focusing on the way how Finnish YLE represents Russia and Russian regional and federal media (e.g. Kommersant, Izvestia, Delovoy Peterburg) represents Finland. In addition, the group have also taken a look into the YLE news in Russian.

Continue reading “Hack­a­thon presentation on Finnish-Russian media research at #DHH18”