Research & Projects

* Digital Humanities Laboratory: Studying the Entanglement of Infrastructure and Technology in Knowledge Production

This is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie research project that I conduct at King’s Digital Lab at King’s College London (2020-2022).

For my research, I propose to conduct a novel ethnographic study of digital humanists at work, combined with a critical analysis of local infrastructure. This project has three main objectives: the epistemological goal is to develop a new theoretical framework for examining a laboratory in Digital Humanities drawing on Science and Technology Studies and Knowledge Infrastructures; the methodological task aims at integrating laboratory ethnography and the ethnography of infrastructure to build a new toolset for studying the intertwining of human organisation and infrastructure; and the central work focuses on investigating Digital Humanities knowledge creation mainly based on a case study of King’s Digital Lab. The study will be based on the observation of, and interviews with, participants involved in the labs, the analysis of written documents, and the analysis of digital communications. As part of this project, I will organize seminars and workshops and publish scholarly articles and methodological guidance.

You can find more about my research on CORDIS European Commission website and in my blog post “What is happening behind the text?” published at King’s Digital Lab website.

* Place Matters: Exploring Spaces for the Humanities Practices

From the 1980s, science and technology studies and the history of science have turned their attention to spaces for the experiments and production of knowledge. All sites of scientific inquiry have become objects of exploration to comprehend the interweaving of place and knowledge. With the publication of Laboratory Life by Bruno Latour and Steve Woolgar in 1979, a laboratory, in particular, has been considered as a gateway for understanding how scientific knowledge is constructed. Karin Knorr Cetina, Peter Galison, and David N. Livingstone, among others, sought to answer the following seminal questions: How does a space of inquiry determine the investigations carried out there? How is scientific knowledge created in a particular place? How do the buildings and sites entail specific practices and values and how do they shape the identity of researchers and fields? A place is endowed with the power of the transformation of the field as well as serves as evidence for these changes. While the study of scientific spaces is well-grounded, a discussion of the intertwining of place and the humanities knowledge has been largely unexplored. The rise of laboratories and makerspaces in the humanities, however, provokes us to ask similar questions: how these new spaces of humanities inquiry both transform and drive humanities research and teaching practices?

This project was conducted as part of the Vanguard Fellowship at the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) at the University of Birmingham (Autumn 2019) and presented at a public lecture at the IAS on 13 November 2019. You can find the presentation of my talk here.

The article “Place Matters: Thinking about Spaces for the Humanities Practices” has been published in Arts and Humanities in Higher Education (28.09.2020),

* The Laboratory Turn: Exploring Discourses, Landscapes, and Models of Humanities Labs

The goal of this research is to track the path of the formation of the laboratory turn in the humanities and understand the conditions, meanings, and functions of humanities labs. First, I investigate three discourses that gave rise to the emergence of a laboratory in the humanities: the transformation of the humanities infrastructure within the university, paradigm shifts in the social sciences, and the expansion of cultural categories of innovation, the maker movement (the proliferation of makerspaces), and the idea of community. Next, I present a history of the laboratory in the humanities and determine the shift from a laboratory as a physical place to a conceptual laboratory. Further, I analyze five models for humanities labs based on laboratories’ statements and operations: the center-type lab, the techno-science lab, the work station-type lab, the social challenges-centric lab, and virtual lab. The research shows that the laboratory turn has emerged in the humanities as a part of a wider process of the laboratorization of social life, which has been occurring since the 1980s. Next, the study indicates the role of digital humanities as the driving force behind building a laboratory space, which supports situated practices, collaborative, and technology-based projects. I aim to show that the humanities lab does not simply imitate the science lab but adapts this new infrastructure for its own purposes and needs.

This research was conducted in the Department of Media at Aalto University (2017-2020). The goal of this project was to explore a laboratory in the humanities to understand its role and implications for the development of the field.

I presented the outcomes in the following conferences and seminars:

  • U. Pawlicka-Deger, “A Laboratory as Critical Infrastructure in the Humanities”. The Department of Digital Humanities, King’s College London, UK. The keynote was part of the Willard McCarty Fellowship at King’s (23 May 2019) (slides presentation)
  • U. Pawlicka-Deger, “Mapping a History of the Humanities and Media Labs”, Global Digital Humanities Symposium, Michigan State University, U.S. (21-22 March 2019) (slides presentation
  • U. Pawlicka, “Mapping the Humanities and Media Labs”, “DH Aalto” seminar in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, Aalto University (07 February 2018)
  • U. Pawlicka, “The Laboratory Turn in the Humanities”. The Department of Media, Aalto University (03 October 2017)
  • U. Pawlicka, “The Emergence of Laboratories in the Humanities: Impetus, Implementation, and Impact”, the Society for the History of the Humanities’ Annual Meeting “The Making of the Humanities VI”, University of Oxford, Somerville College, UK (28 – 30 September 2017). (slides presentation
  • U. Pawlicka, “(Digital) Humanities Labs in Non-Western Contexts”, Global Digital Humanities Workshop, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland (29 – 30 May 2017)

Scholarly articles related to this project:

  • U. Pawlicka-Deger, A Laboratory as the Infrastructure of Engagement: Epistemological Reflections, “Open Library of Humanities” (forthcoming, 2020)
  • U. Pawlicka-Deger, The Laboratory Turn: Exploring Discourses, Landscapes, and Models of Humanities Labs, “Digital Humanities Quarterly” (2020, 14.3),
  • U. Pawlicka-Deger, Laboratory: A New Space in Digital Humanities, in: Debates in the Digital Humanities. Institutions, Infrastructures at the Interstices, ed. A. McGrail, et al., Univ of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis [forthcoming]
  • U. Pawlicka, Data, Collaboration, Laboratory: Bringing Concepts from Science into Humanities Practice, “English Studies” 98.5 (2017): 526-541. Doi: 10.1080/0013838X.2017.1332022

* Lab & Slack: Situated Research Practices in Digital Humanities

This is a Digital Humanities Quarterly special issue edited together with Dr Mila Oiva from the Department of Cultural History at the University of Turku. The issue is available in the preview section.

M. Oiva and U. Pawlicka-Deger, Lab and Slack. Situated Research Practices in Digital Humanities – Introduction to the DHQ Special Issue, “Digital Humanities Quarterly” (2020, 14.3),

* Research Data Management Practices in ARTS

In 2017-2020, I worked in the Research Data Management group (RDM) at Aalto University as a data agent in the School of Arts, Design, and Architecture. My goal was to support faculty, researchers, and students in the data management tasks ranging from organizing to storing to opening data.

I conducted the following tasks:

  • Co-editing the Aalto RDM website (April 2019 – to present)
  • Preparing cheatsheet on personal data in ARTS school (January 2020)
  • Contributing to a conference presentation at the Research Data Alliance’s 14th Plenary Meeting taking place from 23-25 October 2019 in Helsinki. The poster “Illustration of Data Agents network of Aalto University: Data Agents: How to put research data management into practice?” is available in the Zenodo repository.
  • Organizing RDM drop-in consultations (October-December 2019)
  • Training researchers on research data management practices: workshops on RDM at the Department of Media of Aalto University. The goal was to disseminate knowledge on RDM practices, including the use of DMPTuuli, metadata, licensing data, and digital repositories (April-May and October 2018)
  • Co-organizing “Aalto Data Day” (25.05.2018)
  • Advising on the special guidelines of DMPTuuli (Data Management Planning Tool) for ARTS at Aalto University (March 2018)
  • Preparing research data management cheatsheet for ARTS school at Aalto University (Jan – Feb 2018) The cheatsheet is available here.

* Electronic Literature: Theory and Practice

The extensive research on electronic literature was summarized in my
PhD thesis, titled “Literature and New Media. Theory and Practice”, completed in the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn, Poland. I conducted my research in Electronic Literature Lab in Creative Media and Digital Culture at the Washington State University Vancouver WA as a Fulbright scholar and also as a visiting researcher in the Department of English at Stony Brook University. The outcomes of this research project include several publications and monographs (please see “Publications” section).