Category Archives: Yleinen

Next Helsinki STS seminar Wed 29th January: Jose A. Cañada

29 January, 14.15-15.45 Room 10, Metsätalo, Fabianinkatu 39.
Jose A. Cañada, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences.
Local enactments of global health: thinking about scale-making with microbes

What does it take for a phenomenon to be global? How many countries or regions need to engage with it? How does the material manifest in the global scale? Existing literature has argued that the global is not so by itself, but it is made of locally situated practices mostly enacted from Western technoscientific and policy spaces (e.g. Blok, 2010; Law, 2004; Tsing, 2005). Its impact, on the other hand, has the potential to be much wider than that. This is a topic of great relevance when looking at global health policies, the priorities that they formulate, and the implementations that they propose – although it applies to many globally formulated challenges such as climate, sustainability, or innovation, especially when elaborated in terms of development.

The session will reflect on the relevance of scale-making in global health challenges and, more specifically, in those that are formulated around the activity of microbial forms of life, such as pandemic threats and antimicrobial resistance (AMR). These cases are especially interesting because besides the complexities of the multi-scalar character of the global, they must deal with the microscopic scale of viruses and bacteria. This entails a struggle to make visible (or at least perceptible) something that is not for most involved actors. This mobilizes the use of different methods and practices (some more technical than others).

In global health, scale-making must be taken into account not only as part of the studied field, but also in our own practices as social researchers. Consequently, the lecture will formulate questions of relevance to scale-making not only from the perspective of how it is carried out by those who do global health, but also from the perspective of its study as a sociotechnical activity, reflecting on the methodological and analytical implications of studying global phenomena in situated spaces.


Jose A. Cañada is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences. He has a PhD from the University of Helsinki (2018). He has been especially interested in the production of knowledge and material practices associated to sociotechnical controversies, working on topics such as pandemic preparedness and response, biobanking and the development of water infrastructures. He is currently working in the project Social study of antimicrobial resistance: health care, animals, and ethics (SoSAMiRe), where he studies issues related to AMR global policy-making, knowledge production, and implementation.

STS Helsinki Seminar Programme Spring 2020

The STS Helsinki Seminar Series is a seminar series by the STS Helsinki research collective. Our aim is to create a space for in-depth conversations about current research in Science and Technology Studies (STS). The topics cover a wide range of contemporary issues, such as climate change, the role of experts, medicine, genetics, gender, robotics or organic food. The seminars function as a platform for strengthening the STS community in Finland and bringing STS to new audiences. All scholars, students and audiences interested in the interaction between science, society and technology are welcome!

Seminar programme / Spring 2020

Wed 29 January, 14.15-15.45 Room 10, Metsätalo, Fabianinkatu 39.
Jose A. Cañada, postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Social Sciences.
Local enactments of global health: thinking about scale-making with microbes

Wed 26 February 14:15-15:45 Room 11, Metsätalo, Fabianinkatu 39.
Steven Fuller, professor, University of Warwick
Social Epistemology and STS: Can They Survive the Post-Truth Condition?

Thu 19 March 14:15-15:45 Room 7, Metsätalo, Fabianinkatu 39.
Malgorzata Rajtar, associate Professor, Institute of Philosophy and Sociology at the Polish Academy of Sciences.
Health Passports and Vulnerability: The Case of Rare Diseases

Thu 16 April 14:15-15:45 Room 12, Metsätalo, Fabianinkatu 39.
Ilpo Helen, professor of Sociology, University of Eastern Finland
What does ”sociotechnical” imply? Conceptual fieldwork with a case of data mining in health care

Thu 14 May 14:15-15:45 Room 7, Metsätalo, Fabianinkatu 39.
Sampsa Hyysalo, professor of co-design, Aalto School of, Art, Design and Architecture
Method matters in the social study of technology: Investigating the biographies of artifacts and practices.

STS Courses at the University of Helsinki

During the Spring 2020 following Science & Technology Studies related courses are offered for the students (the list will be updated!):

  • The Politics of Environmental Knowledge course gives students knowledge and tools to critically evaluate the role of science and scientific knowledge in understanding environmental problems and creating solutions for them. Students will be able to apply the theoretical concepts from science and technology studies (STS) to the analysis of historical and current environmental issues.
  • Imagination in Environmental Politics course supplies the students with skills to critically review existing conceptual categorizations and conceptualizations of the future within the field of environmental politics (theoretical aspect); critically apply these categorizations and conceptualizations in relation to specific empirical cases (empirical aspect); and critically assess and evaluate existing future-oriented narration of different kinds and registers (methodological aspect).
  • Analytical approaches to human environmental interaction course gives students the skills to conduct critical interdisciplinary analyses of problems arising in interactions between technology, society and the environment. They can propose theoretically sound, evidence based and sustainable solutions to complex environmental problems. They have the communication skills to convincingly present the solutions to the relevant stakeholders. They are mentally prepared to take on professional challenges in environmental policy analysis, planning, decision-making, implementation and assessment.
  • There are book exams organized in Technology Studies , in Science Studies and in Environment, Technology and Culture. Moreover,  TOTEMI is an ongoing PhD seminar.


PAST COURSES (Fall 2019):

  • Science in Society course for doctoral students aims at developing participants’ understanding about how science and scientific experts(/expertise) influence and relate to society and its institutions. the course also provides an opportunity to reflect upon the participants’ own developing expertise in their fields of study.
  • Science Studies course for Master’s and Doctoral Students has two objectives. First, to become familiar with the main streams of thought in STS, the most important authors, situate them in their historical context, and understand how they relate to each other. And second, to be able to discuss different STS approaches in light of their different critiques and relate them to contemporary debates in the field.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Society course introduces students to current discussions, debates, as well as developments in the field of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) from a social scientific perspective. The course will also provide the students with an overview of political, legal and ethical debates surrounding the development of AI.

Call for papers: The Rise of AI Society




During the past few years, numerous countries and organizations have published dozens of policies and strategies regarding the development of artificial intelligence. The permeation of AI, machine learning and algorithmic thinking into an increasing number of facets of everyday life, from banking and medicine to transportation and law suggests that AI is becoming increasingly ubiquitous in society. For science and technology studies (STS) this provides a unique opportunity to study and understand social and technological change.  Not least since the development of AI touches upon so many of the central themes within STS.

This workshop invites presentations which examine the rise of AI in society and the consequences that is has in everyday life. Possible topics for presentation topics may include, but is not limited to:

  • AI and governance
  • Algorithmic culture
  • AI and privacy/surveillance
  • AI in different professions such as healthcare, law, and transportation
  • The design of AI systems
  • AI at home
  • Restructuring of activities for the application of AI, for example in a workplace
  • The role of AI in organizational change
  • Implications of AI in knowledge production
  • Methodological approaches to study AI

We invite contributions from researchers at all stages of the academic career, but we particularly encourage early career researchers to submit abstracts. Abstracts should be no longer than 300 words.

Keynote speakers:

Ilpo Helén (University of Eastern Finland): What do algorithms do? An approach for a sociology of datafication of health care.

Francis Lee (Uppsala University): The Politics of Algorithms: The Challenge of AI, Big Data and Digitalization for Social Inquiry

Abstract submission deadline is January 20, 2020.  Abstracts should be submitted to

For further information please contact Aaro Tupasela ( or Heta Tarkkala (

Call for papers: Science, technology and society working group at The Annual Conference of the Westermarck Society

STS Helsinki will host the working group ‘Science, technology and society’ at The Annual conference of the Westermarck Society 2020 in Rovaniemi 26–27 March 2020.The theme of the conference is community, and keynote speakers include John Clarke, Open University, Mia Liinason, University of Gothenburg, Nira Yuval-Davis, University of East London, Sanna Valkonen and Áile Aikio, University of Lapland, and Sigga-Marja Magga, University of Oulu.

Please send your abstract of maximum 300 words to the working group co-ordinators no later than 15 January. Edit: The deadline for abstracts has been extended until 31 January.

Science, technology and society

Jose A. Cañada, University of Helsinki, jose.a.canada (at)
Marianne Mäkelin, University of Helsinki, marianne.makelin (at)
Vera Raivola, University of Eastern Finland, vera.raivola (at)

Science and Technology Studies (STS) is an interdisciplinary field of study that examines the interaction between society, science, and technology. STS pays attention to how different fields, such as law, politics, and everyday life, become intertwined with science and technology. This is relevant when thinking about heatedly debated topics as diverse as climate change, the role of experts, medicine, genetics, gender, robotics or organic food. The field calls for a deeper understanding of the development, processes, practices and outcomes of such social phenomena. STS explores the mechanisms behind knowledge claims and ontological assumptions that guide our everyday. Or, how a prominent STS scholar, Steve Woolgar, has said: look at how the world defined by science and technology “could be otherwise”.

STS Helsinki calls for theoretical, methodological and empirical papers on current research in social studies of science. Papers both in Finnish and English are welcome. The aim of this working group is to offer a forum to discuss the practices that contribute to the shaping of technoscientific objects and subjects. How is scientific knowledge established and negotiated, and how historical processes contribute to the development of certain technologies? We also welcome papers that reflect on the role communities in the field of STS. This working group is defined as a meeting point for both Finnish and international scholars to share and discuss their work with others studying science, technology and society.

Sampsa Saikkonen: Ability and authority? Studies on the constructedness and expansion of expertise in the contemporary public sphere

Sampsa Saikkonen will defend his doctoral dissertation entitled “Ability and authority? Studies on the constructedness and expansion of expertise in the contemporary public sphere” in the Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki, on 16 November 2019 at 12:00. The public examination will take place at the following address: Porthania, lecture hall P674, Yliopistonkatu 3, Helsinki.

Professor Stephen Turner, University of South Florida, will serve as the opponent, and Professor Esa Väliverronen as the custos.

The dissertation will be published in the series Valtiotieteellisen tiedekunnan julkaisuja – Publications of the Faculty of Social Sciences.

The dissertation is also available in electronic form through the E-thesis service.

Helsinki STS seminar Fri 15th November: Stephen Turner

Welcome to the STS Helsinki Seminar Series session on 15 November, 14.15-15.45!

Venue: 3rd floor seminar room, Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies (HCAS), Fabianinkatu 24

Stephen Turner, Distinguished University Professor, University of South Florida

Expertise and Complex Organizations


Expertise always has a place in social organization. One of the fundamental problems of the employment of expertise derives from the conflict between the fact that experts must be supported and therefore have interests and the need for at least the appearance of disinterestedness that is necessary for their expertise to be persuasive. This requires that experts have a protected status, and that expert systems, which involve the aggregation of expert knowledge for the purposes of decision-making, also be organized in such a way that they are protected from conflicts of interest. This, however, is a problem of organizational design with no standard solution, though there is one common one: redundant structures with different evidence sources. In this chapter examples of the problem are discussed, and the sources of failure are considered. It is shown that the sources of failure are intrinsic to the devices used to protect experts. The example of the failures of the International Monetary Fund in the 2008 and the Greek crises is examined in detail, from an organizational perspective, to show that the flaws that led to expert failure in this case were features that were effective in normal circumstances rather than bugs. This is an important lesson that generalizes to all expert systems. The concluding discussion deals with the implications for reliance on these systems

Stephen Turner is Distinguished University Professor at University of South Florida. He has written extensively in science studies, especially on patronage and the politics and economics of science, and on the concept of practices. His Liberal Democracy 3.0: Civil Society in an Age of Experts, reflects his interest in the problem the political significance of science and more broadly in the problem of knowledge in society. A collection of his essays on this topic, The Politics of Expertise, has recently appeared. Among his other current interests are problems of explaining normativity, especially the conflict between philosophical and social scientific accounts, and issues relating to the implications of cognitive neuroscience for social theory, especially related to the problem of tacit knowledge and mirror neurons. (See full bio and more information at University of South Florida homepage.)

Helsinki STS seminar May 21st: Liina-Maija Quist

Welcome to the spring term’s final session of the STS Helsinki Seminar Series on Tuesday, May 21st 12.15-13.45!

Venue: 3rd floor seminar room, Helsinki Collegium of Advanced Studies (HCAS), Fabianinkatu 24

Liina-Maija Quist, postdoctoral researcher, University of Helsinki
Undersea uncertainties: Ethnographic engagements with maritime worlds in Mexico (and the US)

Sea(water) becomes known to humans in diverging ways depending on the senses, technologies, and time through which it is engaged. This talk discusses materiality in the study of politics of marine environments through analysis of embodied knowledge that fishers in Tabasco, Mexico employ in making claims about scientifically uncertain and contested consequences of marine oil exploration. I examine STS-inspired ethnography in creating understandings about the non-verbalized aspects of human-non-human relations and related knowledge. Drawing on theoretical ideas from de la Cadena and Ingold, the talk focuses on the fishers’ mobility at sea and related knowledge claims as ‘excess’, or beyond conventional political discourses, interrogating the multiple and contested meanings that fishers attach to their sea environment, fish and fishing in the context of increased oil extraction operations in Mexico. It illustrates the productivity of anthropologies inspired by STS in analyzing these embodied meanings that are difficult to articulate in words and even more so within a political frame that shapes marine spaces in terms of their contribution to economic progress. Lastly, I reflect upon similar approaches in my incipient work examining the ‘worlds’ of marine scientists based at the Scripps institute of Oceanography in California.

Liina Maija Quist is a post-doctoral researcher in Environmental Policy at the University of Helsinki. Her research focuses on the politics and science involved in governing marine environments in the Global South and North. Currently, she studies seafarers’ and marine scientists’ every day engagements with environmental, scientific and technological uncertainties. In her PhD thesis (2018), Quist examined ethnographically a marine-environmental conflict between fishers and oil companies in Tabasco, in the Mexican Gulf of Mexico.

Questionnaire for junior STS scholars in Finnish universities

Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies is looking for ways to support junior scholars working in Finnish universities in the field of STS. With this survey we want to map the current situation and get ideas for new, suitable, and needed activities. You can answer the survey in English, Finnish, or Swedish. The survey will be available until May 31st.
So let us know about your experiences as a junior STS scholar (doctoral researcher/dissertation defense within the last 5 years) and please circulate the survey in your networks!


Results from the survey will be published on the website of Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies.



Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or need more information
Minna Saariketo
minna.saariketo at
Jaakko Taipale
jaakko.taipale at

STS Helsinki Seminar April 26th: Nik Brown

Join us for the third session of the STS Helsinki Seminar Series on:

Friday, April 26th from 12.15-13.45

At: U35, Unioninkatu 35, seminar room 114. Note, we will be in a different location than usually!

Nik Brown, Professor of Sociology, University of York

Materialities of air care: a biopolitics of breath, buildings, bodies and bugs

This paper outlines an ‘aerography’ of respiratory life in the context of lung infection treatment by focussing conceptually and empirically on the embodiment and architectural materialisation of breath, breathing, air and atmosphere. It builds on an in-depth anthropology of three respiratory lung infection clinics treating patients with cystic fibrosis, a disorder characterised by life-long chronic respiratory infections, inflammation of the lungs. For most people with CF, breath and breathing are not to be taken for granted. Instead, respiration becomes an uncommon matter of conscious effort, determined resolve and atmospheric management. Here, the involuntary and implicit nature of breath is made explicit, surfacing above the taken-for-granted. To take an aerographic perspective is to attend more carefully to questions of air and atmosphere by challenging and reversing a sensorial hierarchy that privileges visibility, touch and solidity (Iragaray 1999). Any threat to breath and breathing is an ‘elemental’ source of abject dread and no more so than for the embodied lives of those for whom breath has become perilous (Williams 1989). Instead of an afterthought, an aerography asks ‘why not begin with air’ (Jackson and Fannin 2011), with the immaterially absent presence of the invisibly intangible? The question of air is, as Sloterdijk notes, a matter of sphereology, of being located and positioned ‘in’ some definite atmosphere or aerosphere. It prompts us to think about the nature of life enveloped ‘inside’ or encased in contrasting biospheres of relative exposure and protection, endangerment and safety (buildings, architectures, vehicles, rooms, households, neighbourhoods, air quality zones, worlds, hemispheres). Aerography prompts reflection on air’s movement, its ‘management’ or flow within ‘architectures of air currents’ (Wagenfeld 2008). In the context of infectious contagion, the air has become materially spatialised in physical sites of concern that call into question the biotic and ecological life of building design, layout and geometry (Kelley and Gilbert 2013). The biotic, and its capacity to select for resistance, newly refocuses attention on the mutually implicated microbiomes of buildings entangled with the microbiomes of bodies, respiratory tracts, nasal cavities, mucosal membranes, lungs, guts, hands and skin.

Nik Brown is professor in sociology at the University of York working across Science and Technology Studies (STS) and the Sociology of Health and Illness (SHI). He has several decades of research and scholarship experience working first on the regulation and governance of the biosciences. He has examined the political and moral economies of stem cell biobanks and umbilical cord blood banking. Nik’s most recent areas of interest include the biopolitics of infections and anti-microbial resistance (AMR). He has published widely on the biopolitics of immunity including a forthcoming monograph (‘Immunitary Life: The biopolitics of Immunity’, Palgrave-Macmillan, 2018).