Pandemic Screenings: The Covid-19 pandemic and the digital screen

Marjo Kolehmainen
TIAS postdoctoral fellow, Turku Institute for Advanced Studies & Media Studies, University of Turku;
Docent in Gender Studies, University of Tampere

 The Covid-19 pandemic elevated digital screens to the core of everyday life. Screens can be found everywhere, including museums and galleries, stock exchanges, train stations, aeroplane seats, banks, food courts, record stores, gas stations, office desks and in the palm of one’s hand (Wasson, 2007). While screens are examples of everyday digital materialities (Sumartojo & Graves, 2021), the Covid-19 pandemic foregrounded in particular the significance of live video calls in sustaining everyday lives. During the pandemic, screen technology supported various societal infrastructures and cultural practices, such as distance learning, white-collar remote work, online health care consultations and remote dance and music lessons. The health measures of physical distancing, in particular, have shifted many activities online. I have also personally experienced it, including work-related Zoom meetings, children’s dental care via Microsoft Teams and attending a celebration via live stream on YouTube.

My interest in screens was initially sparked when conducting a study on how psychotherapists, psychologists, family counsellors and other therapy and counselling professionals experienced technology in their work during the pandemic. I originally collected interview data as part of a research consortium, Intimacy in Data-driven Culture (IDA), funded by the Strategic Research Council at the Academy of Finland. Several of my interviewees reflected upon the change in setting and venue, and the themes of visibility and invisibility recurred. For instance, they described how screen view limits the amount of visual information they receive, from seeing the body as a whole to a variety of gestures (Kolehmainen, 2022). The screens were repeatedly experienced as barriers, either in physical, affective or mental ways. Similar descriptions, of course, have been voiced by many professionals regarding screen usage in other contexts, such as university lecturers on teaching in higher education.

Yet my research also shows that screens should not be viewed solely as limiting human-to-human interaction and as reducing communication to ‘talking heads’. Concerns over remote encounters echo the negative attributes with which technology is often associated. Especially in care work, technology is often seen as ‘cold’, impersonal and instrumental in contrast to human care and warmth (Pols, 2012). In debates concerning digitalised psychotherapy, for instance, this takes the form of framing remote treatment as a ‘substitute’ or otherwise starting with a dichotomous opposition of in-person and technologically mediated consultations. Posthuman theory enables us to recognize how screens, with their own affordances and qualities, come to matter in various ways. As humans, we expand both expression and perception through screens. My interviewees recalled several instances in which they made novel observations. These observations were both enabled by the chance to see the client in a new setting and by the purposeful exhibition of one’s home, artwork or pets.

Image source: Pexels

As suggested earlier, screens also have their own affordances and qualities. One example is how they make the materiality of time and temporality tangible. The interviewees recounted how the possibility of switching the camera off for a while might make it easier for clients to talk about painful memories or feelings. One of my interviewees pondered about frozen screens, being concerned that they might influence a session. A frozen screen might leave their faces in an unintended and uncontrollable position, thus threatening the goal of having a neutral, professional face. Another one recalled the difficulties of having real-time eye contact with a client via a screen view, since there was always a tiny delay that made eye contact impossible. These varied experiences all speak to the importance of recognizing screens as ‘vibrant matter’ (Bennett, 2010), as the screens—assemblages themselves—influence the therapy sessions.

Screens also expand and exceed themselves in several ways. Whereas we might take for granted the (Western) assumption of one device, one person (Pinch et al., 2022), a deeper look at remote therapy and counselling reveals the multi-layered inter-dependencies as well as structural inequalities that materialize through screens. For instance, many clients use devices owned by their employers, meaning that discussing sensitive issues remotely is considered risky. Or perhaps the email invitations to online therapy sessions cannot be sent to one’s work email address for fear of them popping up on a colleague’s screen. Further, where and when people access their screens makes visible several aspects of social privilege and disadvantage. The wealthy ones, for instance, might own an in-house-sauna, summer cottage or a car, and thus can access their mobile screens from a variety of locations. In this way, they can ensure privacy. However, not everyone can access these types of venues, and their experiences with digital screens might differ drastically. In this way, screens also provide a view of inequalities and asymmetries concerning pandemic experiences.



Bennett, J. (2010). Vibrant matter: A political ecology of things. Duke University Press.

Kolehmainen, M. (2022). Intimate technology? Teletherapies in the era of COVID-19. In M. Kolehmainen, L. Annukka, & L. Kinneret (Eds.), Affective intimacies (pp. 63–80). Manchester University Press.

Pinch, A., Birnholtz, J., Rawat, S., Bhatter, A., Baruah, D., & Dange, A. (2022). Someone else is behind the screen: Visibility, privacy, and trust on geosocial networking apps in India. Social Media + Society8(3).

Pols, J. (2012). Care at a Distance: On the Closeness of Technology. Amsterdam University Press.

Sumartojo, S., & Graves, M. (2021). Feeling through the screen: Memory sites, affective entanglements, and digital materialities. Social & Cultural Geography22(2), 231–249. DOI: 10.1080/14649365.2018.1563711

Wasson, H. (2007). The networked screen: Moving images, materiality, and the aesthetics of size. In J. Marchessault, & S. Lord (Eds.), Fluid screens, expanded cinema (pp. 74–95). University of Toronto Press.

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Leveraging the use of population data toward improving health and care for everyone

Pande Erawijantari

TCSMT Postdoctoral Researcher

I always find population study, a study that is conducted in representative samples from the population, to be fascinating. Especially due to its potential to process various information toward beneficial policies and actions. So, when I first learned about bioinformatics data analysis, I kept looking for the possibility of applying it in population level data, particularly to answer health-related research questions. Seeing how big data transform into beneficial interpretations for wider use, intrigues me to get involved in this research area.

When I moved to Finland to follow my husband, I felt lucky because Finland is one of the countries that have comprehensive population data ranging from Cancer Registry that has been established since 1953 to the most recently added Register of Primary Health Care Visits in 2011. The records are originally meant to develop new ways to model the complex relationships between health and risk factors using high-resolution longitudinal data. The findings are then used to develop preventive and personalized health care for general citizens. For example, The National FINRISK Study, which was initiated in 1972, was highly successful in presenting preventable measures to tackle the high incidence of cardiovascular diseases, marked by decline of risk factor levels and coronary heart disease morbidity and mortality in the province of North Karelia, Eastern Finland at the time1. In 1976, the study was then expanded to the entire nation to target more broadly on major non-communicable diseases. When I  joined the Turku Data Science Research group in 2021, I got the opportunity to take part in analyzing this cohort, particularly those collected in 2002 (FINRISK 2002), aiming to explore how microbiome, collections of microbes that live with us, influence long-term health status2.

High-quality data is indeed a foundation of a successful health and care system. It could serve as a system enabler for integrative data information towards better healthcare policy. For example, it helps in deciding on the best care, researching and improving treatments, addressing health inequalities, managing contagious diseases, improving efficiency, and planning services for now and future. When COVID-19 pandemic occurs, insight from population data is critical to help public health and humanitarian leaders to respond more effectively to the pandemic, particularly by analyzing preventive actions, the spread of the disease, population mobility, and systems or people’s resilience to cope with the virus. An effective response is always needed with every crisis, and here is why the collective effort for population data could play an essential role.

Although leveraging the population’s data for better healthcare has been implemented by many countries, several parts of population are still understudied. As an example, in genomic study, the vast majority (86%) of the population data only cover individuals of European descent3. This could result in missed scientific opportunities that could exacerbate health disparities. One famous example is the difficulty in generalizing the use of polygenic risk score, an estimate of genetic risk, in different populations. Despite its increased power to predict certain diseases such as breast cancer and cardiovascular diseases in European-descent populations, the prediction’s accuracy decreases when applied to populations with increasing genetic distance from the study cohort. This example shows that the lack of diversity in population data may result in inaccurate assessment of risk and lack of interventions, especially in under-studied populations. Hence, comparing a diverse set of populations unravels the possibility of gaining valuable information for greater insight in understanding the complexity of certain health conditions.

On the optimistic side, several initiatives have been started recently for understudied populations. In genomic fields, several flourishing studies have targeted low- and middle-income countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America also indigenous populations study in Australia. There are several factors that contribute to their success such as: (1) international project funding that promotes inclusion;  (2) large-scale training for the local community to contribute to the project; (3) strategic collaborations with an established institute to support both infrastructures and knowledge experts; and importantly, (4) clear ethical guidelines to build trust between community and researcher.3 I am quite hopeful as well, as Biomedical and Genome Science Initiative (BGSi) also started recently this year in my country, Indonesia. This could have a major impact, as Indonesia is the 4th most populated country (based on population number), and home to 1,340 recognised ethnic groups.

Despite a massive increase in data collection, there has been relatively little progress in data analysis and application4. A joint effort of a large number of scientists with a diverse sets of skills could be part of the solutions. One of example is a collaborative scientific competition, known as Challenges could provide a unique way of engaging researchers to collectively solve a complex problem, and provide a framework for robust methodologies for data analysis, including for health data setting. Recently, our research group has been taking part in organizing an Open Challenge that adopts the data and problems from the FINRISK cohort, where we invite everyone to provide novel insight in predicting heart failure using information on conventional risk factors and microbiome compositions.

To summarize, population data has opened opportunities to substantially improve health outcomes. Ensuring the inclusion of diverse populations could accelerate progress. To warrant such practice, many aspects need to be accessed, and successful projects could serve as an excellent example. Importantly, an appropriate governance framework must be developed and enforced to protect individuals and ensure that healthcare delivery is tailored to the characteristics and values of the target communities. Finally, collective effort could help to accelerate the translation of data toward improving health outcomes that could benefit everyone.


Borodulin K, Tolonen H, Jousilahti P, et al. Cohort Profile: The National FINRISK Study. Int J Epidemiol. 2018;47(3):696-696i. doi:10.1093/ije/dyx239
Ruuskanen MO, Erawijantari PP, Havulinna AS, et al. Gut Microbiome Composition Is Predictive of Incident Type 2 Diabetes in a Population Cohort of 5,572 Finnish Adults. Diabetes Care. 2022;45(4):811-818. doi:10.2337/dc21-2358
Fatumo S, Chikowore T, Choudhury A, Ayub M, Martin AR, Kuchenbaecker K. A roadmap to increase diversity in genomic studies. Nat Med. 2022;28(2):243-250. doi:10.1038/s41591-021-01672-4
Wyber R, Vaillancourt S, Perry W, Mannava P, Folaranmi T, Celi LA. Big data in global health: improving health in low- and middle-income countries. Bull World Health Organ. 2015;93(3):203-208. doi:10.2471/BLT.14.139022
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“Fund people not project”, is the project-based funding scheme adequate?

Collegium Researcher Sophie Reichert, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Adjunct Professor, Department of Biology

The idea to write about project-based funding schemes for this blog piece originated from the recent French elections (yes there’s actually a link there). With these elections came a new government, with a new Minister of State for Higher Education and Universities. Not long after her appointment, the new minister stated that (French) public research should be an economically profitable investment and that project-based funding schemes should be generalised. Which led me to wonder whether such a funding scheme was actually adequate and “profitable” for research. Over the past of decades, European public research became increasingly concerned with performance objectives and relevance. More and more, the requirement of relevance for public research is becoming synonymous with its direct contribution to economic competitiveness and innovation. In response to this requirement for economic relevance, many Western governments have introduced specific policies to stimulate “scientific excellence”; and the funding of public research in the form of project-based grants and contracts gradually developed in many countries. The rise in project funding shifted control of research funds towards funding agencies that distribute these funds across individuals/groups; as opposed to a steady yearly research fund allocation (as it used to be the case). These funding schemes are grounded in the belief that differentiating resource allocations will produce better performance of the science system; but they generate financial capacity for a select number of individuals and research groups at the receiving end and increase the unequal distribution of funding in the science system. Governments hope that increasing concentration among researchers that perform ‘best’ will increase effectiveness, decrease low-quality research, and yield more and better outcomes for the science system. Continue reading

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Metals for the existence and applications of oligonucleotides with metal-mediated base-pairs

Tharun Kumar Kotammagari TCSMT Postdoctoral Research Fellow Bioorganic group Department of Chemistry University of Turku

Tharun Kumar Kotammagari
TCSMT Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Bioorganic group
Department of Chemistry
University of Turku

For our body to function, we need to supply it with a variety of nutrients that we get from our diet. However, our bodies can not use the food as it is when it enters our digestive system. The process of chemical digestion uses different proteins and enzymes to break down large molecules into usable nutrients that our cells absorb. Where are the instructions to manufacture these and all types of proteins we need to stay alive? The instructions to make proteins are contained within our DNA.

DNA is a biopolymer that stores the genetic information in the sequence of four nucleic acid bases – adenine (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), and guanine (G). These bases are strung along with the ribbons of a deoxyribose sugar-phosphate backbone and form a double-helical structure with the help of hydrogen bonding. The above-mentioned proteins and Watson-Crick base pairing properties are well established in the literature. Metal ions such as K+, Na+, and Mg2+ are also responsible for catalyzing the reactions of metabolism and the correct folding of biopolymers (nucleic acids). Generally, the sugar-phosphate backbone carries a negative charge and these charges are partially neutralized by the aforementioned alkali and alkaline earth metals. These metal ions also play a key role in the central dogma of biology (replication, transcription, and translation). However, less attention is given to the inorganic components of a biological cell, which are required for a biopolymer to function.

Metal mediated base pairs form by replacing the hydrogen bonds between complementary nucleobases in DNA with coordinate bonds formed by the metals, especially transition metals. Coordinate bonds have more strength than the H-bonds and transition metals readily form coordinate bonds with nucleobases. Due to this DNA duplexes possessing metal-mediated base pairs show higher thermal stability than the natural H-bonded DNAs. Continue reading

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Constitutionalism and democracy in the EU

Massimo Fichera, Collegium Researcher, TIAS / the Faculty of Law

In my research project, I aim to analyse the phenomenon of constitutionalism beyond the State and more specifically the relationship between constitutionalism and democracy. European constitutionalism is employed here as an example. The idea is to explore the concept of constitutional time and consider how significant this is for the development of the EU as a polity.

Essentially, I analyse constitutionalism beyond the State from the angle of constitutional and legal theory, on the assumption that the dialectic between constitutionalism and democracy is not only unresolved but may be expressed simultaneously as tension and as a promise of renewal. This represents a further elaboration of my previous work on the security of the European project, i.e. a form of political morality that embraces the duality between self-preservation and self-empowerment, change and permanence. Security is thus more than mere stability and ought to be seen as a meta-constitutional rationale that permeates processes of polity-building. As I have argued previously, following the multiple crises of the European Union, for the first time all six dimensions of security have been affected, i.e. spatial, temporal, ontological, popular, epistemic and reflexive.

My current project focuses first of all on the temporal dimension, which looks at EU integration as an ongoing process. Secondly, the reflexive dimension addresses the questions of ‘how to be secure as a polity?’ and ‘what does it mean to be secure?’ Finally, I elaborate the notion of communal constitutionalism, which is supposed to be future-oriented, and stretch out to include future generations. A new form of discursive constituent power (i.e. the power to establish a constitution) is suggested, which is exercised through discourses and therefore combines theories of deliberative constitutionalism with constitutional pluralism. According to communal constitutionalism, a plurality of actors is involved in constituent activity, including courts, supranational institutions, media, scholars and other non-State actors, and levels of decision-making at the local (national and sub-national) level should be promoted.

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Sugar boost for photosynthetic microorganisms to improve biotechnology applications

Tuomas Huokko, TCSMT Postdoctoral Researcher, Molecular Plant Biology

Tuomas Huokko, TCSMT Postdoctoral Researcher, Molecular Plant Biology

Today’s society is still to a great extent dependent on fossil fuels because we use them plenty to e.g. run our vehicles, heat our homes, provide us with electricity and power different industrial sectors. As is well known, fossil fuels are not infinite energy source and importantly contributing heavily to the accumulation of greenhouse gases. Thus, humankind faces a major challenge to replace these by alternative energy sources which would be carbon-neutral and completely renewable.

Solar energy is the most abundant energy source available on Earth. Cyanobacteria are an exceptional group among prokaryotes due to their ability to perform oxygenic photosynthesis where physical energy from sunlight is converted to chemical energy to reduce atmospheric CO2, having water as an electron source, and releasing O2 as a by‐product.  Using synthetic biology photosynthetic cells can be modified to living cell factories to produce e.g. fuels, chemicals and food supplements in a sustainable way with energy from photosynthesis. In addition, some cyanobacterial species can grow under photomixotrophy which is a metabolic state that enables photosynthetic microorganisms to simultaneously perform photosynthesis and utilize imported organic carbon substrates which leads to improved biomass production, and consequently to higher yields of desired valuable compounds when compared to photosynthesis alone. Thus, photomixotrophic growth provides an interesting opportunity for blue and circular bioeconomy through acceleration of biomass production by utilization sugar side streams e.g. from wood industry.  Additionally, genetically engineered photosynthetic microorganisms can act as a chassis for the whole cell photobiotransformation enabling sustainable synthesis of organic compounds because several enzymes utilised as photo-biocatalysts use reducing agents deriving from light-driven photosynthetic electron transfer reactions. Continue reading

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Healing the world, one book at a time

Olga Cielemęcka
TIAS Postdoctoral Researcher
Department of Gender Studies

A book can be a lifeline. It can bring hope, comfort, or respite from reality. Stories make time go by faster; they can transport the reader to a different, more hopeful, place and time.

Since the summer of 2021, holding facilities for asylum-seekers in Poland have filled up to their limits, as many people on the move fell victim to the Belarus self-proclaimed “last and only European dictator,” Alexander Lukashenko’s hybrid war against the European Union. In holding centres and border detention facilities across Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia, asylum seekers, adults and children, await legal decisions on what is going to happen to them next. Living conditions are often harsh and put a major strain on the mental health of people staying there. Asylum seekers are crammed together, the use of smartphones is not allowed, and Internet access is strictly limited, leaving people isolated and often deprived of contact with their dear ones. Time outdoors is also restricted. There are too few interpreters and cultural assistants to explain the situation, walk asylum-seekers through the complicated legal procedures, and inform them about their rights, which only adds to the stress of being in a strange and frightening environment. At home they were students, architects, farmers, and poets, now all they can do is wait.

For people waiting, often for months on end, life-altering decisions with little contact with the outside world and unsure what the future holds for them, books can feel like a shelter. Imagine not being able to read a bedtime story to your kid. Picture yourself arriving in a new country with a different culture and language you don’t understand. If religion is an important part of your life, imagine you don’t have access to your holy texts.

Libraries Without Borders is a grassroots campaign born out of a need to support and show solidarity with people affected and traumatised by military conflict, border violence and forced displacement, and seeking safety in Europe. The campaign is run by volunteers and activists, whose goal is to provide books in languages such as Arabic, Sorani, Kurmanji, Turkish, Farsi, Pashto, Dari, French, and many others, to refugees in holding facilities in Poland. Books are being collected across the country and beyond, and new ones are purchased with the money raised by the collective.

The support for the initiative is coming from many ends: the City Library in Turku has joined the campaign with book donations; a Polish school in Qatar gifted children’s books in Arabic; a Muslim community in Brussels sent in Qurans. Since the start of the campaign in January, over a thousand books have been sent to asylum seekers and libraries in refugee camps in Poland. Most popular are language dictionaries and novels, but we also receive regular requests for board games, card decks, mp3 players for music, and art supplies.

The Libraries Without Borders’ bookplate is stamped inside each donated book.

One of the challenges the campaign organisers have faced was to provide books in Kurdish languages – Sorani, Central Kurdish language commonly spoken by Kurds in Iraq, and Northern Kurdish known as Kurmanji. While many members of the Kurdish minority, fleeing oppression and violence in their countries, seek refuge in Europe, publications in Kurdish languages are few and hard to come across. Libraries Without Borders partnered with a community-run independent Kurdish bookstore Ktebhen in Berlin, to make sure that anyone who wants to donate a book to a Kurdish refugee in Poland, can easily do so.

To donate books for people in refugee centres in Poland, go to Ktêbhên’s website and choose books from the “DONATION” list (the bookstore prepared a selection of 56 titles!). With the code “PolandLWB”, shipping from Berlin to Poland is free.

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Vastaväittäjänä vieraassa maassa

Dosentti, Jetro J. Tuulari
TSCMT kollegiumtutkija
Kliininen laitos, psykiatria

Väitöstilaisuus on selkeä virstanpylväs, siirtymäriitti tieteentekijöiden yhteisön jäseneksi. Oman väitöksen lisäksi olen päässyt seuraamaan yhden ohjattavan ja monen tutkijakollegan väitöstä. Vaikka Suomen järjestelmässä väitöstilaisuus on seremoniallinen, tunnelma on usein tiivis – jännityksestä kustoksen ilmoittamasta väitöksen alusta hänen toiseen puheenvuoroonsa, joka päättää tilaisuuden.

Väitöskäytännöt vaihtelevat maittain ja kun sain viime vuoden lopulla kutsun Englantilaiseen yliopistoon vastaväittäjäksi hyväksyin kutsun innoissani. Lontoossa sijaitsevan Kings Collegen protokollassa väitös on englantilaiseen tapaan suljettu tilaisuus, thesis examination, eli väitöskirjan tarkastus tai koe. Tohtorikandidaatti on myös mahdollista reputtaa tässä kokeessa ja väitöskirjaan voi edellyttää suuriakin muutoksia. Saamissani ohjeissa kerrottiin seikkaperäisesti, miten väittelijää pitää testata ja annettiin lupa olla tiukka, mutta toisaalta myös kannustettiin inhimillisyyteen ja mm. kehotettiin antamaan niin monta taukoa väitöksen aikana kuin kandidaatti toivoo. Continue reading

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Saako evoluutionäkökulman yhdistää kielenmuutokseen?

Outi Vesakoski, kollegiumtutkija, TIAS/Suomen kieli ja suomalais-ugrilainen kielentutkimus

Halusin nuorna tyttönä elää keskiajalla. Hoitaa eläimiä ja elää metsästä. Sittemmin tajusin, että mielikuva ihmisen ja luonnon harmonisesta suhteesta oli vahvasti liioiteltu ja että ihmisillä oli tapana kuolla nuorena ja sairaina.

Päädyin vain tutkimaan menneisyyttä. Otin akateemista vauhtia ekologisesta lajiutumisesta, mutta nyt tutkin kielievoluutiota siinä missä muut evoluutioekologit tutkivat biologista evoluutiota. Sovellamme BEDLAN-työryhmässä (kuva 1) evoluutiobiologian – ja geostatistiikan ja laskennallisen tutkimuksen – menetelmiä laajoihin kieliaineistoihin ja selvitämme kielievoluution muutosmekanismeja.

Kuva 1. Ks. tarkemmin

Evoluutio on muutosta

Evoluutio on muutosta populaation keskiarvossa jossain perinnöllisessä piirteessä – vaikkapa kasvin kemiallisissa ominaisuuksissa. Myös kielenmuutos on ajan myötä tapahtuva muutos puhujapopulaation kielenkäyttötavassa. Kielenmuutos tai kielievoluutio eivät siis tarkoita muutosta kenenkään yksilön tavassa käyttää kieltä elämänsä aikana.

Kielenmuutos on mekanistisesti sosiolingvistinen ilmiö – miten innovaatio leviää populaatiossa. Sillä on myös spatiaalinen ulottuvuus – murteet ja kielet ovat kielellisen vaihtelun alueellista ilmentymää. Oma kiinnostukseni on tiukasti menneisyydessä: Miten kielen alueellinen vaihtelu ja siitä seuranneet murteet (kielen mikroevoluutio) ja kielikunnat (kielen makroevoluutio) kehittyivät aikana ennen mediaa ja internettiä, aikana jolloin tarvittiin puhujapopulaatioiden fyysinen kontakti kielenpiirteiden leviämiseen.

Kielievoluutio on sekä vertikaalista että horisontaalista

Osa kielenpiirteistä periytyy vertikaalisesti, puumaisesti aikaisemmalta kohortilta seuraavalle tai populaation jakautuessa kantaryhmästä tytärryhmiin. Horisontaalitaso viittaa taas kielikontakteihin, joissa kielipiirteitä siirtyy murteesta ja kielestä toiseen: Ihmiset oppivat toisiltaan uusia äänteitä, matkivat prosodiaa eli intonaatiota ja omaksuvat uusia sanoja ja kielen rakenteita.

Vertikaalisen evoluution kuvaamiseksi biologiassa on kehitetty fylogeneettisia malleja. Ne mallintavat evoluution kahtiahaarautumista – joskin haarojen pituudesta ja tukiarvoista arvioidaan kahtiahaarautumisen ja polytomisen haarautumisen todennäköisyys. Myös kielen fylolingvistiikka perustuu biologisiin mutta kielille muokattuihin evoluutiomalleihin (Greenhill et al. 2020). Fylolingvistiikka käyttää useimmiten ns. perussanalistoja, joissa olevat merkitykset (sanat) ovat kielen pysyvintä osaa vastaten genomin ultrakonservatiivisia alueita. Aineiston ytimenä on kognaattitieto: miten merkitys sanotaan kussakin kielessä, ja ovatko eri kielten sanat samaa alkuperää keskenään eli kognaatteja.

Luiden päällä on kuitenkin lihaa, eli perityn aineksen lisäksi kielievoluutiota muokkaa lainautumalla siirtyvä aines. Fylolingvistiikassa rakennetaan parhaillaan keinoja vertikaalin ja horisontaalin evoluution yhdistämiseen. Samaa työtä tehdään myös biologisen evoluution parissa: Viime vuosina geenitekniikoiden kehittyessä biologien leuat ovat olleet koetuksella loksahtelun takia, sillä ryhmä toisensa jälkeen raportoi lajista toiseen siirtyneistä genomin osista. Horisontaalia transmissiota – aineksen lainautumista – on siis muillakin kuin bakteereilla ja kulttuureilla.

Kumulatiivista tutkimusta

Laskennallisen kielievoluutiotutkimuksen kantava piirre on kumulatiivisuus. Julkaistua aineistoa, analyysia, hypoteesia tai teoriaa testataan ja parannetaan, ja julkaistaan toinen paperi. Seuraava ryhmä jatkaa tästä. Fylogeneettisten mallien kehitys onkin ollut merkittävää viimeisen 20 vuoden aikana niin biologisen kuin onneksi kielellisen evoluution tutkimuksessa. Glottokronologian ja leksikostatistiikan kehitys sen sijaan tyssäsi 1950-luvulla niiden saaman huonon maineen vuoksi.

Entäpä populaatiogenetiikan tarjonta?

BEDLAN-työryhmän tulokulma vertikaalin ja horisontaalin kielenmuutoksen yhdistämiseen on erilainen. Kaivamme kyllä esille uralilaisen kielikunnan luurangon käyttäen sanaston ultrakonservoitunutta osaa ja fylolingvistisiä menetelmiä. Tiedämme kuitenkin, että biologiassa kontaktissa olevien ryhmien divergenssin (eriytymisen) ja konvergenssin (sekoittumisen) analysointiin ei käytetä puumalleja, vaan populaatiogenetiikan admixture-malleja. Uskon, että uusien aineistojen ja populaatiogenetiikan mallien tullaan saamaan lihat luitten päälle.

Testasimme populaatiogenetiikan lähestymistapaa Lauri Kettusen Suomen murrekartastolla (Syrjänen et al. 2016) sekä itämerensuomalaiskielten aineistoilla (Honkola et al. 2019), joista molemmat kuvaavat kielen alueellista vaihtelua aikana ennen massamediaa. Tarkoitus ei ole vain tehdä murrekarttoja, vaan painia uusin ottein kielitieteen vanhojen kysymysten kanssa.

Esimerkkinä uusien menetelmien antamista mahdollisuuksista olkoon kuitenkin murrerajojen etsintä. Isäni seminaarityö vuodelta 1972 Turun yliopiston Suomen kielen laitoksella käsitteli savolaiskiilan ja eteläpohjanmaan murteen rajaa Kortesjärvellä. Hän tutki seitsemää murrepiirrettä, ja päätyi toteamaan, että kiilan sijaintia ei voi varmasti paperille piirtää, sillä eri piirteet rajaavat murteen eri tavoin. Hän kuitenkin esitti kartan (kuva 2).

Me sen sijaan otimme käyttöön kaikki Kettusen murrekartaston 213 murrepiirrettä kaikista 525 suomen kieltä puhuvasta pitäjästä, populaatiogenetiikan mallipohjaisen STUCTURE –ohjelman sekä paikkatietomenetelmät tuloksen visualisoimiseen. Kysyimme ohjelmalta, että millainen on maan murrejako, jos murteita on 2, 3, 4…8. Vastauksena oli kullekin pitäjälle tuotettu frekvenssiarvo. Kuva 2 kertoo Etelä- ja Keski-Pohjanmaan pitäjien kuulumisesta K=8 klusteroinnissa eteläpohjanmaahan (oranssi), keskipohjanmaahan (sininen) ja savolaismurteisiin (vihreä). Populaatiogenetiikan klusterointimenetelmät eivät oleta tarkkoja rajoja populaatioiden välille, vaan antavat todellisen kuvan tilanteesta: savolaisuus, keskipohjalaisuus ja eteläpohjalaisuus esiintyvät eri vahvuisina eri pitäjissä.

Kuva 2. Vasen: Savolaiskiilan sijainnista (pisteviivoitettu alue) Risto Vesakosken vuoden 1972 seminaarityössä. Keskimmäiset kuvat: Savolaiskiilan sijainti Syrjänen et al. (2016) mallipohjaisen ryhmittelyanalyysissa. Oikea kuva: Analyysi tuottaa kullekin pitäjälle frekvenssiluvun kuuluvuudesta eri murrealueisiin. Aineisto, analyysi ja tulkinta löytyvät artikkelista.


Uusi tulokulma, uudet mahdollisuudet

Voimme nyt mitata murteiden välistä divergenssiä (Honkola et al. 2018) ja konvergenssia (Santaharju et al. lähetetty käsikirjoitus) ja etsiä niille syitä. Vihdoin voimme testata tilastollisesti miten hallinnolliset, kulttuuriset ja luonnonmaantieteelliset tekijät ovat muokanneet murremaisemaa ja populaatioiden välisiä kontakteja. Parasta on, että kieliaineisto on pitäjäkohtaisina frekvensseinä yhteismitallinen Suomen geneettisen aineiston kanssa (Kerminen et al. 2021), mikä mahdollistaa ihan uudet lähestymiset ihmisen diversiteetin tutkimukseen.

Oleellista on, että populaatiogenetiikan menetelmät ovat sovellettavissa myös kielikuntien tutkimiseen. Tämä on mahdollista juuri nyt, kun uusia typologisia aineistoja on tulossa ulos. Zürichin yliopisto julkaisi juuri uuden version AutoTyp –aineistostaan, maailman kielten uusi typologinen Grambank-aineisto on arvioinnissa Science-lehdessä (Turun yliopisto on tietenkin mukana) ja maaliskuussa julkaistaan uusi uralilainen typologinen aineistomme UraType (kuva 3).

Kuva 3. Esimerkkejä UraTyp-aineiston kysymyksistä (Moilanen et al. 2021).

Uralilainen yhdistelmä

Seuraava vaihe onkin yhdistää tunnetut sanastolliset kielikontaktit (de Heer et al. 2022) typologisiin kontakteihin ja vertikaalisen evoluution luurankoon. Kokeilimme mallintaa uralilaisen kielikunnan sisäisiä kontakteja populaatiogenetiikan tulokulmasta. Parhaiten aineistoon sopi malli, joka jakoi kielikunnan neljään eri komponenttiin (kuva 4). Nämä ”kontaktialueet” yhdistävät evolutiivisesti eronneita uralilaisten kielten haaroja.

Kuva 4. UraTyp aineiston fast-STRUCTURE analyysi. Aineisto ja analyysi selitetään tarkemmin Norvik et al. 2022, Journal of Uralic Linguistic (ensimmäinen numero julkaistaan maaliskuussa). Uralilaisten kielten kartat, Perinteinen puumalli: Korhonen 1981.


Kerettiläisyyttä vai ei?

On selvää, että kielenmuutos ei ole täsmälleen samanlainen prosessi kuin biologinen evoluutio. Leino et al. (2020) kirjankappaleessa perustelemme, miksi erilaisuus ei kuitenkaan estä tarjoilemasta ideoita ja aineistoja tieteiden välisen raja-aidan yli, ja avaamasta uusia mahdollisuuksia kielievoluution ja ihmisen kielellisen menneisyyden ymmärtämiseen.



Greenhill SJ, Heggarty P, & Gray RD. 2020 Bayesian Phylolinguistics. In Janda RD, Joseph BD, & Vance BS (Eds) The Handbook of Historical Linguistics, Volume II, pp. 226–253. Wiley-Blackwell: New Jersey.

Honkola, T., Santaharju, J. , Syrjänen, K. & Pajusalu, K. 2019: Clustering lexical variation of Finnic languages based on Atlas Linguarum Fennicarum. Linguistica Uralica 55:3.

Honkola, T., Ruokolainen, K., Syrjänen, K., Leino U, Tammi, I, Wahlberg, N. & Vesakoski, O. 2018. Evolution within a language: Environmental differences contribute to divergence of dialect groups. BMC Evolutionary Biology. 18:132.

Kerminen S., Cerioli N., Pacauskas D., ym. (2021) Changes in the fine-scale genetic structure of Finland through the 20th century. Plos Genetics 17, e1009347.

Leino, U., Syrjänen, K. & Vesakoski, O. 2020: Linguistic change and biological evolution. Ryan Nefdt, Carita Klippi & Bart Karstens (eds.), Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the Philosophy and Science of Language. Palgrave Macmillan.

Moilanen, U., Pesonen P., Norvik, M., Saipio, J., Vesakoski, O., Immonen, V. & Onkamo, P. 2021: New tools for studying Finnish archaeology and Uralic languages. Antiquity 95(323), E30.

Syrjänen, K.*, Honkola, T.*, Lehtinen, J., Leino, A. & Vesakoski, O. (2016) “Applying population genetic approaches within languages: Finnish dialects as linguistic populations”, Language Dynamics and Change 6: 235-283. DOI: 10.1163/22105832-00602002.

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Kimmo Luoma

Kimmo Luoma
Collegium Researcher, Laboratory of Quantum Optics

My first year as a collegium researcher in Turku is behind and now is a good time to look back how the year has gone by. Already for my undergraduate and graduate studies I have been in Turku so coming back here felt like coming back home. Scientists, as well as everyone else have been greatly affected by the covid pandemic during the last two years. Besides a lot of worries, it has not only been a bad thing, though. The pandemic has helped, or rather forced us all to embrace the possibilities of various online tools for meetings, teaching and research.

I spent almost six years in Germany after my PhD and a lot of my research is done in collaboration with people from all over the world. As a consequence of moving during the pandemic, nothing much actually changed in my day-to-day business; still most of my meetings take place online. The surroundings changed from the vineyards at Elbe river valley to the beautiful Archipelago surrounding us here in Turku.

My first year here has been also a busy one. I have started setting up my own research group at the Department of Physics and Astronomy for the first time, and the process has been very exciting.
Now we are up and running and doing theoretical physics on the intersection of quantum optics, open quantum systems and quantum thermodynamics with applications to quantum technologies.
I am associated with the Laboratory of Quantum Optics at the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Our lab shares here a corridor and – maybe even more importantly – a coffee room with the Laboratory of Theoretical Physics, which had made it easy to integrate at the Department. It has been a great joy to be talking to other researchers at the „corridor“ (following the corona restrictions, of course), exchanging ideas, and forming new collaborations.

Scientific and university life in general does not look the same as before the pandemic.
I do miss old fashioned paper and pen discussions or having casual coffee table discussion by the blackboard not mention the color which the students bring on the campus on a daily basis.

I am hopeful that we are moving towards more normal times and for a coffee and and interesting discussion soon!

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