Organising committee


Academic Leader

Özlem Çelik is a University Lecturer at Global Development Studies at the University of Helsinki. After her PhD degree in Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield, Özlem previously worked as a postdoc fellow at Helsinki, Lund and Middle East Technical universities and as a lecturer at Yasar University. Her research has an interdisciplinary nature, at the cross-section of urban studies and planning, economic and political geography. Her scholarly interests include the role of the state in housing and urban governing; housing financialisation; urban social movements and commoning practices; green financialisation; and sustainable urban development. To date, her research has been funded by the Swedish Institute, Raoul Wallenberg Institute, University of Sheffield, Malmö University, and FORMAS, and has been published in journals such as Antipode, Housing Studies and Journal of Urban Affairs. She is currently co-leading a recently funded Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development (FORMAS) research project on green urban development in Sweden. She is the co-founder and coordinator of the Urban and Regional Political Economy Working Group, IIPPE since 2010 and Nordic Urban Political Economy Network (NUPE).

Twitter: @oslem_celik


Academic Coordinator

Christal O. Spel is an affiliated postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, Finland. She holds a Ph.D. in Social and Public Policy from the University of Helsinki, Finland, and an MSc in Development and International Cooperation from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. She has academic interest on Inequality, Social Welfare, Mobility Governance, and Individual resilience. Her research is focused on immigrants’ wellbeing, immigration governance, integration policy, micro-business development and Africa regional integration. She is committed to bridging academic theory to societal development and contributes to society building through her research and advocacy for immigrant rights and wellbeing. Dr Spel has collaborated with several African migration experts in edited book projects focusing on African migration management and regional integration. She is published in regional and international journals and has written several blogs to call attention to social issues experienced by African immigrants, women and micro-entrepreneurs. Her current project examines the immigration governance of African migrants’ social and economic rights in Ghana and Kenya.


Maria Fedina is a Doctoral researcher in the Doctoral Programme of Political, Societal, and Regional Change in the discipline of Indigenous Studies. Her research focuses on the construction of urban Indigeneity in the Russian settings and identity formation processes among the Komi people.  


Jiachen Ye is a Doctoral researcher from the sociology discipline in the Doctoral Programme in social sciences. Her research focuses on tea in contemporary Finland and globalization.



Roman Urbanowicz is a doctoral student in Social Anthropology. His research focuses on Polish minority in Belarus, and deals in particular with experiences of political participation under authoritarian condition, shaped by trajectories of class and gender as well as by the larger context of emerging regional crisis – all within the framework of scrutinising epochal contemplations and meanings of the political temporalities.


Toni Nieminen is a first-year PhD student in social and cultural anthropology at the doctoral programme in social sciences. He is working on a project in which he is aligning linguistic anthropology with critical disability studies, to look at the politics of language and the ways in which ableism is both reproduced and challenged through linguistic practice in the context of Disabled employment in Finland. By combining conventional participatory observation with a linguistic and discursive analysis of digital and media content, he is interested in how Disabled workers are negotiating their labor surroundings as well as how the figure of the “Disabled employee” is circulated in and across various public spaces. 


Topi Saha is a Doctoral Student in the Doctoral Programme in Political, Societal and Regional Change. His dissertation examines political scandals and the mediatization of Finnish politics in the 1970s and ’80s.



Xu Zong is a Doctoral researcher in the Doctoral Programme of Social Sciences. His research focuses on population aging, health inequalities and machine learning.



Xinwei Zhang is a Doctoral researcher in social sciences. Her research focuses on the motivations and practices of East Asian immigrants in setting up bubble tea enterprises in greater Helsinki and the indigenization and localisation of bubble tea products, and the associated culture of bubble tea, to Finnish socio-cultural conditions.