Key note speakers:

Asif Agha teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, where he is Professor of Anthropology, and Director of the Penn Semiotics Lab. He teaches in the Graduate Groups in Anthropology, Linguistics, History and Sociology of Science, South Asian Studies, International Studies, and Education. He is the President of the Society for Linguistic Anthropology and the Editor of the journal Signs and Society. His research concerns the role of language in human affairs, including its role in enabling the forms of interpersonal communication that give shape to social institutions like media, money, law, science, education, and the State.

Celia Lury is Professor and founding Director of the Centre for Interdisciplinary Methodologies, Warwick University. With Sophie Day and Helen Ward, she has just started a Wellcome Trust funded project called ‘People Like You: Contemporary Figures of Personalisation’. The aim of the project is to assess whether and how personalising practices are influencing taken-for-granted concepts of the person. Recent publications include: The Handbook of Interdisciplinary Methods (co-edited with Fensham, Lammes, Heller-Nicholas, Last, Michael, and Uprichard), Routledge 2018.



Lynnette Arnold is a linguistic anthropologist who studies how language both produces and contests the marginalization of geographically mobile populations, in particular cross-border Latin American communities. Her book manuscript examines the consequences of everyday communication for the social reproduction of transnational Salvadoran families; she combines this scholarship with community engagement, most recently as a core member of the Committee for Language and Social Justice of the Society for Linguistic Anthropology. She received her PhD in Linguistics at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2016 and is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at Brown University.

Nico Carpentier is Professor in Media and Communication Studies at the Department of Informatics and Media of Uppsala University. In addition, he holds two part-time positions, those of Associate Professor at the Communication Studies Department of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB – Free University of Brussels) and Docent at Charles University in Prague. Moreover, he is a Research Fellow at the Cyprus University of Technology and Loughborough University. His latest books are The Discursive-Material Knot: Cyprus in Conflict and Community Media Participation (2017, Peter Lang, New York); Cyprus and its Conflicts. Representations, Materialities, and Cultures (2018, co-edited) and Critical Perspectives on Media, Power and Change (2018, co-edited).

Summerson Carr is Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago.  Committed to the anthropological study of knowledge and expertise, her ethnographic work to date focuses on the politics of language and representation in the American helping professions.  Recent publications of note include essays in a co-edited volume with Michael Lempert, Scale: Discourse and Dimensions of Social Life (University of California, 2016), and “Occupation Bedbug (or, the Urgency and Agency of Professional Pragmatism”) in the journal Cultural Anthropology.  She is currently finishing a book manuscript titled, Paradox and Pragmatism: The Revival of American Helping Professionals.

Hilary Parsons Dick completed her Ph.D. in anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include: transnational migration; nationalism; the semiotics of inequality; and the social life of law. In May 2018, her first book, Words of Passage: National Longing and the Imagined Lives of Mexican Migrants, was published (University of Texas Press), supported by a Wenner-Gren Hunt Fellowship. She is currently developing two new projects: her second book, Bad Hombres and Angel Moms: Communicating Commonsense Racism in the Time of Trump (under contract, Oxford University Press); and ethnographic research on discourses of migrant illegality in small Pennsylvania towns.

Ilana Gershon is the Ruth N. Hall professor of anthropology, and studies how people are using new media to accomplish complicated social tasks, such as breaking up or getting hired.  She has published books such as The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over New Media and Down and Out in the New Economy: How People Find (or Don’t Find) Work Today.   She is also editing a trilogy of imagined manuals: about different jobs (A World of Work), about human-animal relationships (Living with Animals), and about monsters around the world (Living with Monsters).

Andrew Graan is Lecturer in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Helsinki. A cultural and linguistic anthropologist, his research examines the politics of the public sphere in Macedonia. He earned his Ph.D in anthropology from the University of Chicago in 2010. His current project, “Brand Nationalism: Neoliberal Statecraft and the Politics of Nation Branding in Macedonia,” is supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Kone Foundation. The project examines how the coordinated efforts to regulate public communication that are found in nation branding projects constitute a wider program of economic and social governance.

Elina I. Hartikainen (Ph.D. University of Chicago) is Core Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies. She is a socio-cultural and linguist anthropologist who studies the intersection of religion, politics, and race in Brazil. In her past and current research, she has examined Afro-Brazilian religious activists’ engagements with Brazilian state projects of participatory democracy, multiculturalism, and violence prevention. In addition, she has written on the adjudication of religious intolerance in Brazil. Most recently, her research has appeared in American Ethnologist and Signs and Society.

Maria Khachaturyan is a postdoc at University of Helsinki. Her research project is threefold. First, following her PhD project at INaLCO, France (2011-2014) dedicated to a documentation and description of Mano, a Southern Mande language spoken in Guinea and Liberia, she is working towards a reference grammar of the language with a special focus on situated language use. Second, as a continuation of her research project which she developed as a postdoc at the Department of Anthropology, UC Berkeley (2015-2017), she studies the religious register of Mano Catholic community in Guinea, internal and external sources of its development and its relationship to broader questions of conversion to Christianity. Finally, she is working towards a theoretical articulation between studies of register variation and contact linguistics taking Christian influence on the world’s languages as a comparative empirical foundation.

Hanna Lantto is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Eastern Finland. She received her MA (2008) and PhD (2015) in Spanish Philology at the University of Helsinki, where she worked as a Basque teacher from 2005 to 2014. Her main research interests include code-switching and other forms of language contact, non-native speakers of minority languages, and language ideologies. Her current research project examines how non-native Basque speakers construct colloquial registers in the city of Bilbao.

Irina Piippo is Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Finnish, Finno-Ugrian and Scandinavian Studies at the University of Helsinki. She is a linguist, whose research interests focus on multilingualism, politics of belonging, language socialization and Arabic sociolinguistics. She has spent several years in Palestine studying the local Arabic-speaking communities. Her previous project was on language socialization in Palestinian school context. Her current research examines adult language socialization in Arabic-speaking diaspora in Helsinki metropolitan area.

Stef Spronck (PhD The Australian National University) is a postdoctoral researcher within the Helsinki University Humanities Programme at the University of Helsinki. After his training in Slavic and General linguistics at the University of Amsterdam Spronck carried out extensive documentary fieldwork in Aboriginal Australia, working on reported speech and stance in Ungarinyin, a language of the Kimberley region. Couched within a typological, cognitive-functional and discourse-oriented perspective, his research is motivated by the hypothesis that grammatical categories have an interactional foundation, and that grammar primarily serves to instruct addressees how described events and discourse entities participate in the current speech situation.

Sahana Udupa researches and teaches political cultures of digital media, religion, journalism, and urbanization. She is professor of media anthropology at the Ludwig Maximilian University (LMU) Munich, where she leads a five year ERC Starting Grant Project on digital politics: She is the author of Making News in Global India: Media, Publics, Politics (Cambridge University Press, UK, 2015). She has edited Media as Politics in South Asia (Routledge, London, 2016, with S. McDowell). Her most recent publications include, “Extreme speech online: An anthropological critique of hate speech debates” (International Journal of Communication, 2017, with M. Pohjonen) and “Gaali cultures: The politics of abusive exchange on social media” (New Media and Society, 2017).



Don Kulick is Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology at Uppsala University, Sweden, where he directs a multidisciplinary research program called Engaging Vulnerability. He has conducted extensive anthropological fieldwork in Papua New Guinea, Brazil, and Scandinavia, and has written and edited more than a dozen books on topics that range from the lives of transgender prostitutes in Brazil to the anthropology of fat. His most recent book, A Death in the Rainforest: How a Language and a Way of Life Came to an End in Papua New Guinea, will be published by Algonquin Books in 2019.

Anssi Peräkylä is Professor of Sociology at the University of Helsinki.  His research interests involve social interaction in psychiatric settings, and emotion and self-experience in social interaction. In January 2019, he will start his 5 year tenure as Academy Professor.

Johanna Sumiala is Associate Professor of Media and Communication Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki. Her special fields include, media and ritual, media and religion, media and death and digital media ethnography. She has published widely in journals such as Television and New Media, New Media & Society, Social Anthropology and European Journal of Cultural Studies. Her latest co-authored book is titled Hybrid Media Events. The Charlie Hebdo Attacks and the Global Circulation of Terrorist Violence (Emerald, 2018).

Sirpa Tenhunen is Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University Helsinki. She is the author of “A Village Goes Mobile Telephony, Mediation and Social Change in Rural India” (Oxford University Press 2018). In addition to new media, her research interests include the anthropology of politics, gender, kinship and environmental displacement. She currently leads a research project “Sustainable Livelihoods and Politics at the Margins: Environmental Displacement in South Asia” which is funded by the Academy of Finland.