Jason Finch is Associate Professor of English Language and Literature at Åbo Akademi University (ÅAU) and docent (adjunct professor) in Comparative Literature at the University of Turku. He was educated in the UK with a BA from the University of Birmingham and an MPhil from the University of Oxford and in Finland, where his 2011 ÅAU PhD thesis was published as E.M. Forster and English Place: A Literary Topography. Jason works on Anglophone urban literatures, chiefly of the UK and USA, in the period 1820-1970, especially the London ‘slum’, and on mediations of the urbanity of British and US industrial and port cities which boomed in the nineteenth century. The monograph Deep Locational Criticism: Imaginative Place in Literary Research and Teaching (2016) sets out his general approach to the relationship between literature and place. He has co-edited six books including most recently The Materiality of Literary Narratives in Urban History (Routledge, 2019) and published articles in journals such as Literary Geographies, the Journal of Urban Cultural Studies and the Finnish Journal of Urban Studies. Jason is a co-founder and currently (2018–20) President of the Association for Literary Urban Studies (ALUS).
Wladimir Sgibnev defended his PhD degree at Humboldt University’s Central Asian studies department, where he examined the social production of space in urban Tajikistan. Currently, he is Senior Researcher at the Leibniz Institute for Regional Geography (Leipzig), and coordinator of the institute’s research group on “Mobilities and migration”. He is working on urban processes in post-Soviet countries, with a particular focus on urban development and mobility. Recent research projects addressed survival strategies in peripheral mining cities, informal mobilities, and a reconceptualisation of public transport as public space. His major publication include an edited volume on post-socialist urban infrastructures (Routledge) and an edited volume on polarisation and peripheralisation processes in Central and Eastern Europe (Palgrave). The “Marshrutka project” (2015-2019, funded by the Volkswagen Foundation’s Central Asia and South Caucasus Programme) yielded a series of fundamental articles (co-authored with Lela Rekhviashvili) on post-Soviet informal mobilities, and their role within global debates on urban mobilities. These include a theorisation of informality and social embeddedness for the study of informal transport (Antipode), a discussion of the role of labour relations in the study of informal transport (Transport Geography), as well as a comparative outline between informal transport and new digital ride-hailing services (Journal of Transport History).
Project team members
Silja Laine is a cultural historian specialized in urban cultural history and environmental humanities. She defended her PhD in cultural history at the University of Turku. In her thesis, she concentrated on urban imagery, debates around building projects in a new capital city, and skyscrapers in 1920s’ Helsinki. Since then she has worked as a senior lecturer in Landscape studies and as a post-doctoral researcher in the department of Landscape architecture at the Aalto University. In Aalto, she concentrated on the military cultural memory of the Finnish Civil War in urban space. She has a longlasting interest in the history and formation of public spaces. She is a member of the board in the Association for Literary Urban Studies (ALUS) and the Finnish Society for Urban Studies. Her recent publication is the co-edited The Materiality of Literary Narratives in Urban History (Routledge, 2019).
PUTSPACE PhD Researchers
Aleksandra is an artist and PhD student at Tallinn University and Åbo Akademi University. She studied Fine Art at Irkutsk State Technical University in Russia. After the graduation, she remained working at the university as a project manager and a graphic designer alongside with developing her artistic practice. 2016-2017 she studied contemporary art at the School “Free workshops” by Moscow museum of modern art. She spent a year as an exchange student at Humboldt University in Berlin and finished her second MA in Art management at Russian State University for the Humanities in 2019. As an artist, Aleksandra explores public transport using a range of mediums from drawings to performances. In her PhD research she focuses on public art projects on tramways.
Louise Sträuli is a PhD student in the project PUTSPACE affiliated to Tallinn University (TLÜ) and Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB). Louise has a background as a sales consultant for public transport in Zurich (ZVV) and an Erasmus Mundus Master’s degree in ‘Global Markets, Local Creativities’ (GLOCAL) from University of Glasgow, Universitat de Barcelona and Erasmus University Rotterdam. In her doctoral thesis, she combines her interest in social justice issues with public space and mobility. Beyond the question of what distinguishes public transport as public, Louise aims to uncover the tensions between everyday mobility experiences and planning-related mobility narratives. In particular, she examines the development of fare policies, the experiences of ticket controls and practices of fare evasion, as well as the often neglected mobilities of care. To this end, she combines qualitative methods with participatory elements and policy analysis. For more on Louise’s thesis.
Research coordination and support
Poletayev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities (IGITI) /
Associate Professor, Sociology Department, National Research University Higher School of Economics