21 June 2022

For the 17th time, early-career researchers in the humanities and social sciences have been appointed to the cutting-edge research programme Pro Futura Scientia Fellowships. One of them is Julia Velkova, docent in media and communication studies, and assistant professor in technology and social change at Linköping University.

Julia Velkova smiling.
Julia Velkova will studythe ongoing decommissioning of the copper telephone network in Sweden.

“I feel, of course, very honoured and happy to have been awarded this scholarship because it will give me the time and opportunity to focus long term on an important but largely ignored research question.”

One of the questions which Julia Velkova will try and answer is that of what happens when large-scale communication infrastructure – which has shaped our understanding of modernity, communication through time and space, speed and connectivity – becomes old and is decommissioned.

The focus of her research

The fact that Julia Velkova has been admitted to Pro Futura means that she will, for the next five years, be able to study the ongoing decommissioning of the copper telephone network in Sweden. For example, she will look at phone, satellite, data centre, and fibre optic cable networks.

“I also want to study how the ageing of the infrastructure and its decommissioning challenges ideas about citizenship and the role of the old communications network in society.”

Her key question is how different actors, institutions and society’s citizens negotiate and perform the decommissioning of communications networks. Which conflicts, controversies and tensions arise in the process? How is the decommissioning process experienced and negotiated by different groups in society and daily life?

New directions

Through becoming involved in these questions, Julia Velkova hopes to problematise assumptions which consider the “ageing” of technology as a result of the natural process of “technological advancement”. She also hopes that her work will open up new directions in historical and modern research about infrastructure.

“This way, I hope to be able to strengthen and expand some of the research areas currently worked on at my institution, the institution for Technology and Social Change, around infrastructure from a social sciences perspective. I am extremely grateful to all my colleagues at the institution for giving me good advice and supporting me during the nomination and application processes. I'm looking forward to seeing what this project leads to!”

The Pro Futura Scientia Fellowships are run in a collaboration between the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation and the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study (SCAS). They form a cutting-edge research programme in the humanities and social sciences. The programme offers researchers in the beginning of their careers five years to research and develop their skill sets.


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