PhD Researchers Unite! Crossing Barriers of Urban Research

KATUKO (Urban Studies Collective) is formed of PhD students from different Finnish universities, faculties, disciplines and viewpoints with the common factor that we wish to meet and discuss in a low threshold manner with fellows in the same professional situation. Peer-support has developed into a way of interaction. They are an informal group of PhD researchers who wish to step over old and rigid organizational divides in urban research and share our passion about cities.

Through our work, we have noticed that academia is full of silent divisions, unsaid rules, and unpronounced schisms.

We have organised shadow seminars for commenting on our working papers, practised conference presentations together, held book and film nights, vented over beers, and so far only planned for an excursion to Tallinn to meet other PhD researchers and to visit the Lasnamäki neighbourhood and Kalma sauna. In our informal meetings we often discuss research funding, work possibilities, conferences and science communication.

The scope of urban research is huge and we wish to unveil this diversity! We will be writing on a monthly basis for the Urbaria blog to make our topics of ongoing research known and hopefully spark some new discussion. This spring you will read about public art in the city, urban development in a post-Communist context, dystopies of high-rises, online discussions as environments for participatory urban planning and tips on urban podcasts.

We believe that communicating our research in an understandable way is vital in order to solve the challenging issues facing our cities now and in the future.

KATUKO is only two years old and we are constantly looking for new ways to network, so if you want to join us or meet us to collaborate let us know. Join our group on Facebook:

In Finnish: KATUKO eli Kaupunkitutkimuskollektiivi on kaupunkitutkimusta tekevien jatko-opiskelijoiden (tai kaikkien, jotka kokevat olevansa varhaisen vaiheen tutkijoita) matalan kynnyksen yhteisö. Teemme tutkimusta eri suomalaisissa yliopistoissa ja tieteenaloissa. Meitä yhdistää intohimo kaupunkeja kohtaan. Haluamme valottaa kaupunkitutkimuskentän monimuotoisuutta kirjoittamalla yleistajuisella tavalla omista tutkimusaiheistamme. Keskustelemme tapaamisissamme tutkimuksesta, rahoituksesta, työmahdollisuuksista, tiedeviestinnästä ja kaikesta, mikä meitä varhaisen vaiheen tutkijoita mietityttää. Tänä keväänä puramme myyttejä kaupunkitaiteesta, pohdimme kehitystä post-kommunistisissa kaupungeissa, avaamme korkean rakentamisen dystopioita, pohdimme verkkokeskustelujen merkitystä osallistuvassa kaupunkisuunnittelussa ja jaamme kaupunkiaiheiset podcast-vinkkimme.

Briefly about the KaTuKo writers:

Annaliina Niitamo – a PhD researcher in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Media and Communication Studies, at the University of Helsinki. Her research interests revolve around citizen participation and local democracy in urban planning, urban communication and the concept of everyday life. Currently, she is researching participation discourses of urban planners in urban brownfield development projects in Helsinki, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen.

Päivi Leinonen – a PhD researcher in the School of History, Culture and Arts Studies, in the University of Turku. She is interested in the questions of urban landscape and everyday life, especially on the visual aspect. Her research handles experiencing the suburban apartment areas, built during the 1970’s intense building boom.

Justyna Pierzynska – a PhD researcher at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Media and Communication Studies, in the Helsinki University. She is interested in the interplay of geopolitics and history in the media sphere in Central and Eastern Europe, and the flow of ideas that shape modern geopolitical imaginations of the region. She pays attention to geographical scales, including the role of history and geopolitics on a city-level.

Oona Myllyntaus – a PhD researcher in Educational Sciences, at the University of Helsinki. In the doctoral thesis, she examines the impacts contemporary works of art placed in Nordic schools have on school communities. Her focal research interests include learning and work environment, knowledge work, and visual arts education. Currently, she works as a project manager at Center for Cultural Policy Research Cupore for a European Social Fund supported Creative Expertise -project, Solutions for the integration of art into building projects (2018–2020).

Elina Sutela – a PhD researcher in Social Sciences at the University of Turku. In her PhD, she is interested in urban inequality in the context of housing and urban segregation. Se majors in social policy with close connections to sociological research. Her main interest lies in how urban dwellers of all backgrounds could find adequate housing and decent living conditions in urban areas. Currently, she is looking into housing affordability policies in the biggest Finnish cities and writes about urban segregation policies in Europe.

Annukka Kinnari – a PhD researcher in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Media and Communication Studies, at the University of Helsinki. She is interested in the perceptions of cities and is currently writing her dissertation on the changing images of the Chinese city of Guangzhou and how it has been represented in foreign newspapers. She is interested in all kinds of ways cities are perceived, understood, experienced and even heard.

Jutta Juvenius – a PhD researcher in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Sociology, at the University of Helsinki. Her research interest lay in the politics of home, segregation, urban change and everyday life in the cities. Currently, she is researching social boundaries and politics of home within urban settings, as well as the implementations of varying strategies for tackling the problem of urban segregation.

Hanna Tyvelä – a PhD researcher in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Tampere University. Tyvelä is an art historian interested in welfare state modernism and gendered histories of modern architecture. Her research is focused on the institutional architecture of the welfare state in Finland. Currently, she is researching gendered labour history of architecture and work histories of the late 20th century women architects.