Events 2023-24 (Archives)

For upcoming events in 2023-24, please see Events.

Previous Events, 2023-24

27 February, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT
Jennifer James, Natural Sciences Fellow, SCAS.
Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Uppsala University
Molecular Evolution and Mutation: The Good, the Bad, and the Neutral
Zoom Webinar:
New mutations provide the vital raw input for evolution. But how do mutations affect species?
Are they on average, bad, good, or neutral for an individuals’ survival and reproductive success?
Or somewhere in between?  During this talk I will discuss how our understanding of mutations
and how they contribute to genetic variation has developed, and touch on a number of exciting
standing questions in the fields of population genetics and molecular evolution. I will also explain
some of my own recent findings. These include: 
- how the average effects of mutations differ between species.
- how the average effects of mutations differ between populations of a single species.
- how the average effects of mutations differ across the genome within a species, depending
on aspects of genome biology.

13 February, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR
Yaffa Epstein, Pro Futura Scientia Fellow, SCAS.
Associate Professor of Environmental Law, Uppsala University  
Developing Rights of Nature Jurisprudence in Europe
Zoom Webinar: N/A
Rights of nature laws, which recognize legal rights for natural entities such as ecosystems, bodies of
water, or even Mother Earth, have been enacted in a growing number of jurisdictions around the world.
This legal tool has gained the greatest traction in Latin America, where a lack of effective environmental
laws helped spur legal innovation. In 2022, Spain enacted the first European rights of nature law, granting
legal personhood and other rights to the Mar Menor Lagoon and its basin. Several other European juris-
dictions have or are considering following suit. In this presentation, I discuss some challenges as well as
possibilities for these new laws to be effective in European legal systems.

8 February, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR on occasion of the United Nations International Day of Women
and Girls in Science
Critical Storytelling: Experiences of Power Abuse in Academia
Ester Oras, Pro Futura Scientia Fellow, SCAS.
Associate Professor of Archaeology and Analytical Chemistry, University of Tartu  
Introductory words on the UN Initiative and Reflections on Implementing the Agenda
Julie Hansen, Associate Professor of Slavic Languages, Uppsala University
On Critical Storytelling: Experiences of Power Abuse in Academia
Michal Zawadzki
, Associate Professor of Industrial Engineering and Management, Uppsala University

6 February, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT
Jennifer Mack, Pro Futura Scientia Fellow, SCAS.
Associate Professor of Theory and History of Architecture, KTH Royal Institute of
Technology, Stockholm
Creepage and Seepage in the Modernist Suburb That Never Was
Zoom Webinar:
Modernist designers of the mid-20th century envisioned new utopian environments built from the
ground up, imagining a totalizing project. In Scandinavian countries like Denmark and Sweden, such
design ideals combined strategically with welfare-state social and economic reforms, and mass
housing construction through governmental initiatives rapidly transformed the housing stock. Yet by
the late 1960s, journalists and politicians portrayed modernist neighborhoods as unequivocal “failures,”
drawing causal links between their “ugliness” and social problems like crime, alcoholism, and unem-
ployment. This triggered innumerable renovations. Today, longing for the modernist suburb that never
was – a space of environmental control and mid-20th century social conditions – continues, with
anxieties about them materialized through privatizations, extreme makeovers, and even demolitions.
In this seminar, I explore histories of modernist suburbs through creepage (such as the persistence of
punitive discourse) and seepage (such as the arrival of “unplanned” humans and nonhumans) to ask
why such suburbs are still evaluated according to impossibly hegemonic ideas about architecture’s
power over nature and people. I reconceptualize suburban modernism in Scandinavia as a practice
of built environmentalism deeply rooted in, affected by, and produced through both human and non-
human actions. Through alternative histories, scales, and actors, I suggest a more forgiving view of
the present and the need for new modes of intervention into the “problems” of modernist suburbs.

30 January, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT
Erik Zackrisson, Natural Sciences Fellow, SCAS.
Associate Professor of Extragalactic Astronomy, Uppsala University
Why Here? Why Now? Anthropic Reasoning in the Search for Extraterrestrial Life
Zoom Webinar:
In recent years, astronomers have established that nearly all stars host planets, and that some of these
planets may have properties somewhat similar to Earth. This finding has revitalized the age-old question
“Are we are alone in the Universe?”, and significant resources are now being devoted to making the
first detection of life beyond Earth.  Despite the widely held view in astronomy that only empirical
searches can set meaningful constraints on the presence of life on cosmic scales, there is a controversial
line of reasoning that suggests that strong conclusions about the spatial and temporal distribution of
extra-terrestrial life can be drawn from our own position in space and time, when coupled to the
assumption that we are typical observers of the Universe. If correct, this would imply that many of
the current efforts in the search for life in outer space are misdirected. In this seminar, I will explain
how such conclusions come about and explore some of the underlying assumptions.

23 January, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT (moved from 23 April)
Bruce Buchan, Fellow, SCAS.
Professor of History, School of Humanities, Languages, and Social Science,
Griffith University
Charting Time While Visualising Race: How History Became Entwined with
Empire and Colonisation in Scotland’s Enlightenment

Zoom Webinar:
The second edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, published in Scotland between 1778 and 1784,
included an “Historical Chart” purporting to show “at one view” the “rise and progress of the Principal
States & Empires of the known World.” Appearing as it did toward the end of the eighteenth century,
the Chart was one of a range of similar graphic chronologies of human history which began to appear
in European publications in these decades. What makes the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s chart notable
was that it had been “Designed by Adam Ferguson” the famed “Professor of Moral Philosophy, in the
University of Edinburgh.” I will argue in my presentation that Ferguson’s Chart deserves close attention.
What the Chart’s abbreviated, simplistic design accomplished was not simply to offer a chronology, but
to produce (borrowing Bakhtin’s term) a chronotope, where time and space are superimposed upon one
another. By making space and time visible as imperial and ethnic divisions among humanity, the Chart
imprinted race onto the universal history of humanity, and made its dispensations in the modern world
visible “at one view”.  

16 January, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT
H. Orri Stefánsson, Pro Futura Scientia Fellow, SCAS.
Professor of Practical Philosophy, Stockholm University.
Research Fellow, Institute for Futures Studies, Stockholm
Ethical Evaluation of the Greenhouse Gas Emissions of Small and Medium Sized Countries
Zoom Webinar:
Sweden will probably not have a decisive role when it comes to the climate crisis. Whether the worst
climate catastrophe occurs or not depends primarily on the greenhouse gas emissions of much larger
countries. Does that mean that it makes no difference whether Sweden reduces its greenhouse gas
emission? I will try to convince you that the answer is “no”. The fact is that Sweden’s annual emissions
can be expected to cause several thousand people to die prematurely in the coming decades, most of
them in poorer countries. This fact gives those who make decisions on Sweden’s behalf a strong moral
reason to take measures to reduce these emissions. Even if they cannot ensure that a climate disaster
is avoided, they can significantly reduce the harm that Sweden causes. And that, I shall argue, is worth
the modest cost that this reduction imposes on Swedish citizens. 

15 December. WORKSHOP
Elites, Higher Education and Democracy
By invitation only.

12 December, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT
Jonathan Kimmelman, Fellow, SCAS.
James McGill Professor of Biomedical Ethics, McGill University
The Moral Machinery of Drug Development
Zoom Webinar:
Pharmaceutical development is shot through with a moral tension. On the one hand, societies empower
scientists and companies to develop new drugs to address illness and to promote opportunity. On the
other hand, the feedstock for this science consists of animals and human patients- beings whose opportu-
nities are compromised by captivity and illness. Approaches for navigating this moral tension emerged a
lmost a half a century ago and have stemmed the abuses motivating their creation. Yet such approaches
leave whole swaths of drug development vulnerable to research practices that fail to meet the moral
objectives of drug development and that fail to honour the contributions and sacrifices of animals and
patients. The present talk will summarize central themes for the book I am writing at SCAS. I will begin
by describing how drug development mints human opportunity from deprivation and disability. I will
next argue that researchers and oversight systems should strive to maximize “moral efficiencies,”- that is,
minimize the amount of welfare animals and patients expend for society to achieve medical breakthroughs.
I will then describe some of the many ways researchers and oversight systems abide and sometimes
encourage significant moral inefficacies. I’ll close by describing some of the ways the notion of moral
efficiency might guide practice and policy in pharmaceutical research. 

5 December, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT
Hannah Field, Fellow, SCAS.
Senior Lecturer in Victorian Literature, University of Sussex
Rejected and Uncollected: Legal Deposit, Negative Bibliography, and Cultural
Value in Nineteenth-Century England

Zoom Webinar:
This paper examines the rejects of legal deposit: the printed texts excluded from the ostensibly universal
archive promised by copyright libraries. Legal deposit works to preserve every text published in a specific
group of libraries. While this principle is egalitarian, the cultural promiscuity of print has often troubled
the prestigious deposit libraries, as deposit brings such historically maligned forms as novels, children’s
books, almanacs, and pamphlets into elite collections. Taking up this circumstance in a case study based
in nineteenth-century England, the paper models approaches to deposit’s rejects drawn from book history,
distant reading, and digital humanities. In what ways does looking at deposit’s rejects offer us new per-
spectives on the canon (its reverse image, even)? How can we work out what deposit libraries rejected
when they are not always honest about this? And why should any individual rejected text be preserved

28 November, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT
John Stinchcombe, Natural Sciences Fellow, SCAS.
Distinguished Professor of Ecological Genetics, University of Toronto
Understanding Natural Selection: Challenges and Prospects
Zoom Webinar:
Natural selection is the engine of adaptive evolutionary change, the causal mechanism behind the intricate
adaptations we see that make organisms so suited to their environments, and an inexorable force acting on
traits, individuals, and populations. While it was once thought that natural selection was a slow, imperceptible
process that would only have consequences on geologic timescales, we now know that natural selection is
occurring all around us, all the time, and can be observed, measured, and manipulated. The last 40 years have
seen a revolution in how evolutionary biologists understand the magnitude, presence, and ubiquity of natural
selection in nature. In my seminar, I’ll describe some of the basic mechanics of how evolutionary biologists
measure natural selection, as well as some of the challenges in applying these approaches to complex traits
like genome-wide gene expression.

21 November, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT
Gunnel Ekroth, Fellow, SCAS.
Professor of Classical Archaeology and Ancient History, Uppsala University
Eating with the Gods? Preparation and Consumption of Food and the Use of Greek
Sanctuary Space

Zoom Webinar:
Ancient Greek sanctuaries were set apart for the gods and their worship, and this space was perceived
as divine property. Humans would visit sanctuaries to communicate with the gods through sacrifice and
dedications, and they were also the caretakers and administrators of divine space. My seminar will explore
the use of ancient Greek sanctuary space from the perspective of food, especially the meals which follow-
ed after animal sacrifice, the main ritual of ancient Greek religion. Where in the sanctuary did these meals
take place, and were there installations for the preparation and the consumption of the food, permanent or
temporary, such as kitchens and dining rooms? How was the waste from the meals dealt with, for example,
animal bones, ash and broken pottery? Gods and humans clearly had different relationships to food, related
to their immortal and mortal status, respectively, and the uses of food served to define distinctions between
gods and humans, but also to bridge the divide and establish communication. Exploration of the full spectrum
of dining will inform us not only about the use and allotment of space for mortal visitors to sanctuaries in
relation to the space allotted for the gods, but also about the Greek view of the divine.

14 November, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT
Jerome de Groot, Fellow, SCAS.
Professor of Literature and Culture, University of Manchester
Race, Genetics, History
Zoom Webinar:
Genetic data is increasingly shifting the ways in which history is researched and represented. This
raises a number of key questions for historians of all kinds. What are the implications of such
expanded genetic datasets for the practice of history? How can genetic data change experience of
the past, and our way of conceiving what that past is? How does genetic knowledge challenge nor-
mative versions of what historical information might be, or how it might be presented? Given the
focus on ethnicity inherent in much work, what does this mean for the study of race? ‘DNA analysis
is re-creating how we know the past and even how we now define the social world’ argue Alondra
Nelson, Keith Wailoo, and Catherine Lee. My work seeks to understand and to critique this ‘recreation’
in relation to historical understanding, practice, and imagination. I outline a set of approaches for com-
prehending and understanding the ways that we think about the past. Consideration of different modes
of ‘reading’ the past reconfigures our understanding of what that past is, how it is constructed, and
what it might mean.

At the Vanguard of Colonialism: Global Perspectives on Timber Colonialism during
the Age of Industrialization

Zoom Webinar:
Download the programme >>

7 November, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT
Ester Oras, Pro Futura Scientia Fellow, SCAS.
Associate Professor of Archaeology and Analytical Chemistry, University of Tartu
Biomolecular Archaeology for Dietary Analysis: From Big Transitions to Social Foodways
Zoom Webinar:
How do we know what people ate centuries or even millennia ago? To what extent are ancient food-
ways environmentally or socially prescribed?  What kind of stories can dietary analysis reveal on past
communities? Modern analytical techniques applied to ancient materials have opened new avenues for
understanding distant past, shifting the borders of archaeology from humanities to natural sciences.
In my talk I will introduce the principles of biomolecular dietary analysis from ancient skeletal remains
and pottery. Thereafter I will present case studies from the north-eastern Baltic to exemplify how bio-
molecular analysis can be used to understand e.g. big economic changes like forager-farmer transitions,
and socially embedded dietary practices. I will close the talk with a reflection on the merits and possible
drawbacks of the increased share of natural science methods in archaeology, hoping to show that the
technological innovations can be only as good as the socio-culturally embedded questions we ask from

The VUIAS Initiative – A Joint Effort in Founding an Institute for Advanced Study for Ukraine

Daniel Schönpflug, Head of Academic Programs, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. Professor of History,
Freie Universität Berlin. Co-Chair, Virtual Ukraine Institute for Advanced Study (VUIAS)
On Academic Integrity
Sverker Sörlin
, Non-resident Long-term Fellow for Programmes on Environmental Humanities, SCAS.
Professor of Environmental History, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm

Zoom Webinar: (both events)

"A Week on Academic Freedom" is organized in collaboration with Democracy and Higher Education
and HERO. To view the full programme (23-27 Oct), see A Week on Academic Freedom website, or
download the programme here (PDF)

17 October, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT
Mikiya Koyagi, Barbro Klein Fellow, SCAS.
Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, The University of Texas at Austin
Muhammad, Mesopotamia, and the Making of a Pan-Asian Civilization in Imperial Japan
Zoom Webinar:
Until the last few decades of the nineteenth century, nobody considered themselves “Asian.” This
situation changed drastically by the early twentieth century, when nationalists from Japan, China,
India, Iran, and the Ottoman Empire were calling for solidarity among Asian nations. This seminar
traces how Asia, an external label imposed by Europeans, was reappropriated as a self-referential
term among Asians. We will focus on the case of a particular geographical imaginary of Asia that
emerged in imperial Japan, which conceptualized Asia as a single civilizational space that stretched
from Japan to the Ottoman Empire. In the context of Japan’s imperial formation, this imaginary of
Asia was concretized by mobilizing race, religion, and their material manifestations that proved the
oneness of Asia.

11-12 October. SYMPOSIUM
Writing Transcultural Literary History in a Globalized World
By invitation only.

10 October, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT
Desiree Fields, Fellow, SCAS.
Associate Professor of Geography and Global Metropolitan Studies, University of California, Berkeley
Digital Experiments with Landed Property: Robots, Race, and Rent
Zoom Webinar:
“Robot landlords are buying up houses”. Headlines like this one are not unusual these days. What are we
to make of digital experiments with landed property? We should not mistake the technological novelty of
such digital experiments for a break with the geographic and historical specificities of property and infor-
mation politics. The yoking of property to modernity and civilization makes technological progress a fun-
damental part of how relationships to land are constituted and reconstituted, and in whose interests,
throughout global capitalism. In this seminar, I situate 21st century housing market technologies within
sedimented relations of landed property in the United States. I first show that the history of property inno-
vation in the US is also a history of racialized wealth accumulation and dispossession. Second, I interpret
current anxieties about “robot landlords” as anxieties about how the shifting landscape of property owner-
ship appears to threaten the unearned economic benefits associated with racial dominance. Despite claims
of disrupting and revolutionizing the housing market, digital experiments with landed property are insepa-
rable from the role technological progress has historically played in organizing relationships with land that
serve dominant interests.

5-6 October. SYMPOSIUM
Tools, Trades, and Technologies - Exploring Prehistory through Archaeolinguistics
With the symposium Tools, Trades, and Technologies – Exploring Prehistory through Archaeolinguistics,
we aim to facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue, providing a deeper understanding of prehistory through
the lens of archaeolinguistics. Topics range from wealth acquisition and trade emergence in early Indo-
European societies to Tocharian agricultural tools, and Anatolian writing terminology. By intertwining
linguistic and archaeological evidence, we seek to learn more about the Indo-European speakers and
their material culture.

Download the programme >> (PDF)
Pre-registration is required for the event by 2 October 2023 at the latest.
The registration has closed.

This is an event of the research programme LAMP – Languages and Myths of Prehistory and
the Centre for Studies in Indo-European Language and Culture at Stockholm University, in
collaboration with SCAS.

3 October, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT
Arthur Asseraf, Pro Futura Scientia Fellow, SCAS.
Associate Professor of History, University of Cambridge
When Race Cannot Be Said: Social Scientists and Rumors in Postwar France
Zoom Webinar:
Most people agree that racism exists, but nobody wants to be called a racist. This is a fairly new
understanding of how racism works: when did this ‘racism without racists’ emerge? This seminar
will trace this process through one conflict of interpretation over a racist incident in 1960s France.
By looking at the events and analysis of the ‘rumor of Orléans’ in 1969, we will see how understand-
ings of race changed, and made race into something fundamentally diffuse that remains with us today,
something like a ‘rumor’. By drawing on French examples, we will see how anonymous citizens, state
actors and social scientists analyzed an ambiguous series of events to coproduce a new understanding
of racism as fundamentally diffuse that remains with us today. 

28 September. CEREMONY & LECTURE
An Event in Honour of the New Pro Futura Scientia Fellows.
By invitation only.

26 September, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT
Dieter Plehwe, Senior Global Horizons Fellow, SCAS.
Senior Research Fellow, WZB Berlin Social Science Center.
Privatdozent, University of Kassel
Transnational “Strategy Mobility”: The Role of Think Tanks and Their Constituencies in
Climate Policy Controversies

Zoom Webinar:
With the time left for decarbonization getting short before catastrophic levels of global warming
for many species become reality, political conflict with regard to ambitious climate change mitigation
has become more intense rather than less. How can we explain this paradox? Beyond most common
explanations focusing on nation states, which divides countries in leaders and laggards in global
climate policy negotiations, private sector interest groups and their allies within and across borders
as well as transnational circuits and strategies of climate policy obstruction need to be brought into
the picture more strongly. Focusing on the global Atlas network of neoliberal and conservative think
tanks and their corporate and academic constituencies, the paper examines proposals and controver-
sies at the intersection of energy and labor market policy. Early in the new millennium, the shift from
fossil to renewable sources of electricity generation in a number of countries was additionally support-
ed with arguments related to positive labor market effects of energy transition suggesting a double
dividend– ecological and social. Efforts to add momentum to international renewables’ policy transfer
ran into intense opposition around the time of the great financial crisis, however, when additional public
investment became available for economic stimulus programs, some of which earmarked for the pro-
motion of renewable energy. As a consequence of internationally orchestrated campaigns, successful
programs have been aborted in a few countries. Technocratic perspectives of policy learning and policy
mobility fail to take coordinated action across borders in opposition to policy transfer into account,
which turns international policy mobility into global policy conflict. The evidence gathered on the multi-
country origins, strategies and arenas of campaigns directed against “green jobs” supports the need to
add the category of “strategy mobility” and “strategy learning” to the roaster of concepts required to
properly address the global climate policy conflict constellation, and similar patterns and developments
in a number of other policy areas.

19 September, 10:15 a.m. SEMINAR - HYBRID EVENT
Anat Biegon, Natural Sciences Fellow, SCAS.
Professor of Radiology and Neurology, Renaissance School of Medicine, Stony Brook University
The Long Road to Equity for Women in Medicine
Zoom Webinar:
Women have been receiving inferior medical treatment relative to men from the dawn of modern
medicine. This is reflected in higher proportion of late or missed diagnosis leading to worse outcome,
in higher rates of adverse effects resulting  from medical treatment and in frequent dismissal of
women’s complaints. The reasons for this are complex, involving physiological as well as social
factors. The talk will examine these reasons in some detail and provide support for the idea that
the end of  long road to equity for women in medicine can be reached through education of the
next generations of medical practitioners on the specific factors impacting women’s health.

24 August. SYMPOSIUM
Forum for the Future of Neuroscience: What Will the Next 10 Years of Neuroscience
Look Like?
By invitation only.