About me (2015)

From the Autumn of 2015, I’m working as a Senior Lecturer in Political Science at the University of Helsinki. It’s a three-year appointment, which is the Finnish context of precarious jobs and few universities is already quite an achievement, when I returned here as a young postdoc in 2007 for the first time, after a decade abroad (London, Essex, Budapest, Wien, Berlin, Dessau…), I didn’t really know what I was up for.

Now I have rather settled in the Finnish academic community and I am an active participant in science policy, particularly academic publishing, e.g. through the Finnish PSA and SCPR, and in 2015-17 Federation of Finnish Learned Societies and Finnish Association for Scholarly Publishing. I also was the first Editor of politiikasta.fi, online magazine of the FPSA. Having established roots here, where there had been none, I feel I can again go and explore my other or grow new roots.

In my current job, I’m teaching both political theory and comparative politics to undergraduates and advanced methods (Ernesto Laclau’s discourse theory, deconstruction, psychoanalysis and rhetoric) to MA students. This pretty much follows from my rather eclectic disciplinary background in East European Studies (SSEES/UCL) and Ideology and Discourse Analysis (Essex). The postdoc years have also taught me through my jobs as a lecturer cultural policy studies (University of Jyväskylä) and public administration and organization studies (U. of Helsinki).

In the period of 2012-2016 I’m also involved with two Academy of Finland funded interdisciplinary projects. One of the project is based at the University of Helsinki. It is an interdisciplinary project on intellectuals, called Asymmetries in European Intellectual Space and led by Marja Jalava. It’s a project the Academy of Finland postdocs Stefan Nygård and Johan Strang and myself have been initiating for a while. My own research, from March 2014 to February 2016 will involve Hungarian Left-wing intellectuals, notably Lajos Kossuth, George Lukács and Agnes Heller.

The other is based in Jyväskylä is on Populism as Movement and Rhetoric – it’s in Cultural Studies, led by Urpo Kovala. We have professor emeritus Erkki Vainikkala and two postdocs Tuija Saresma and Tuuli Lähteenmäki involved. A great team. My own sub-project is on the concept of populism and on the analytical concept of cultural populism. We investigate Finnish populism, and I’m reading against the grain of cultural studies writing on cultural populism taking it to politics. It is tied to my ongoing work on the distinction between mainstream, fringe, and competing populism.

Furthermore, I’m involved with research on local democracy as I’m taking part in a democracy project in my locality Maunula as part of Helsinki City’s democracy initiatives from 2013. At the Maunula democracy project (more in Finnish) We are developing a concept of participatory planning and budgeting – in a process of learning by doing. I guess it’s action research for me. I have been publishing the future of local democracy, and this has really been a fruitful basis to gain new insights.

In 2015, I have been engaging on developing a new pedagogical approach WeQ Pedagogy at the Helsinki Challenge team Higher Education Unbounded of Katalin Miklóssy, with Anne Nevgi, Erika Löfström (University Pedagogy), Suvi Kansikas (European Studies) and Minna Hakkarainen (Aleksanteri Institute). This has taken quite a lot of my time and effort, but also been quite rewarding for developing a student-centred, collaborative approach with 21st C skills – that thrives on tackling the unknown, undecidable and taboos. I’ve particularly been contributing on postfoundationalism and radical democratic theory. It has also enabled me to use my background in design and collaboration from the Bauhaus Kolleg, Dessau. Finally I do

My background is in politics and memory studies, and I have been working with cultural geographers. I am still involved with research on street names and memorials – we have been conducting research in Budapest with research assistant Anniina Hyttinen, in particular on the former Moszkva tér. I supervise a number of PhD students at the department. Funded by the Emil Aaltonen Foundation, this was part of a populism project. In this I am working on a book manuscript with my doctoral student Halil Gurhanli. As the current and the founding president of the Finnish Society for Cultural Policy Research in 2012, I’ve also been have been publishing on European Cultural Policy, and am working on a manuscript on Guggenheim in Helsinki.

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