COMPASS – A Research Hub on Knowledge Circulation

Older compass against a grey background.
Boat compass from Smithsonians collections/National Museum of American History. Harold Dorwin

COMPASS is a research hub devoted to the study of knowledge in motion. It is named after an artifact that transports and packages knowledge, and as a patented invention also embodies the control of knowledge, the order and segmentation of space in legal as well as material form. A compass is both a metaphor for movement and the concrete object directing that movement.

COMPASS is a research hub devoted to the study of knowledge in motion. It is named after an artifact that transports and packages knowledge, and as a patented invention also embodies the control of knowledge, the order and segmentation of space in legal as well as material form. A compass is both a metaphor for movement and the concrete object directing that movement. 

With COMPASS we want to establish a home for interdisciplinary studies of the multiple ways by which the creation and circulation of knowledge is enabled and disabled. COMPASS is based on the premise that the conditions of this circulation can be approached as a dynamic between forms and norms of knowledge.

Forms and norms of knowledge

While text remains central for the dissemination of knowledge, the material and mediated conditions for knowledge circulation are currently being transformed, impacted by changes both within and outside academia. Knowledge travels in many ways: in bodies and objects, through performances and exhibitions, in spoken and recorded form.

The multiplicity of forms is matched by a multiplicity of norms: from artisanal knowledge guilds to non-disclosure agreements, from shrink-wrap clicking to open access, forms and norms of knowledge co-exist in various materialities and various regulatory practices.

COMPASS sits in the intersection where texts, performances, images, and objects clash and co-exist with norms, regulation, classification, informal and formal modes of control and dissemination regarding the mediatic molding and circulation of knowledge.

Our ambition with COMPASS is to

  • Establish a forum for discussion and collaboration between different actors interested in the conditions for knowledge circulation
  • To initiate, conduct, and support innovative and interdisciplinary research in the field
  • Experiment with new approaches, forms, and networks to develop the understanding of how knowledge is set in motion (or not)
  • Actively work for increased integration of research and education in the field.

COMPASS activities are under development but will consist of

  • Research
  • Regular seminars initiated by COMPASS or held in collaboration with other environments
  • An annual COMPASS symposium
  • Course development at undergraduate and postgraduate level with an emphasis on critical/theoretical perspectives regarding research on research/science communication.

Ongoing Show/Hide content

Call for papers

Knowledge in Motion: Human–Non-Human Relationships

Call for papers for the Annual Symposium organised by COMPASS Research Hub at Linköping University 11–12 May 2023.

This conference seeks to investigate the processes of knowledge exchange by focussing on the history of human–non-human relationships. We invite proposals for 20-minute papers across three thematic strands:

The boundary between human and non-human (for example, anthropomorphism, animalistic humans and humanised animals, taxonomies, court cases and trials against animals)

Non-human animals as a resource (for example, hunting and fishing, animals as food, fur, and leather production, domesticated and working animals, pets, laboratory animals, ‘useless’ or ‘harmful’ animals: dangerous species, vermin, parasites)

Creating equal relationships between human and non-human animals (for example, animal agency and animal sentience, understanding pain and suffering in animals, history of animal protection)

We welcome paper proposals from all disciplines and from PGRs and ECRs. The symposium will be held in a hybrid mode. Please send your abstract of approximately 250 words and a short bio to Dr. Polina Ignatova by 1 September 2022.

Call for papers as PDF.

Seminars, lectures and conferences Show/Hide content

Programme Spring 2022

The COMPASS seminars are organised in collaboration with the various research environments at the Department of Culture and Society.

1 September: FISK: Fish Sentience Knowledge

1-3 pm

Discussion of Polina Ignatova’s ERC application grant: FISK: Fish Sentience Knowledge

The seminar will be held in a hybrid-digital format. Join on Zoom or in room Tvärsnittet, Kopparhammaren 7, Campus Norrköping. Zoomlink can be found here.

Contact Per-Anders Forstorp or Polina Ignatova for access to the ERC proposal to read before the seminar.
In collaboration with Tema Q.

Videos from Bridging Research Praxes Across Pluralities of Knowledge Show/Hide content

Bridging Research Praxes Across Pluralities of Knowledge April 26


Victoria (Tori) Van Orden Martínez, PhD candidate, Division of Culture, Society, Design and Media (KSFM), Linköping University. Additional comments by Per-Anders Forstorp, Professor, KSFM.

Framing talk

Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, Professor in Mediated Culture, KSFM, Linköping University.

Panel: Metrics, Value, and Recognition

Moderator: Asher Goldstein, PhD candidate, Division of Migration, Ethnicity and Society (REMESO), Linköping University.


  • Rachel Gardiner Faulkner, Co-Director, Culture Shift
  • Louise Ejgod Hansen, Associate Professor, Aarhus University
  • Peter Vig, Educator/Independent researcher
  • Tomas Kertész, Independent researcher
  • Juilee Decker, Rochester Institute of Technology/Collections journal
  • Barbara Wood, Curator, National Trust, UK
  • Alia Amir, Senior Lecturer, Linköping University
  • Rizwan-ul Huq, Senior Lecturer, Mid-Sweden University.



Bridging research praxes across pluralities of knowledge April 27

Brief opening remarks

Victoria (Tori) Van Orden Martínez, PhD candidate, Division of Culture, Society, Design and Media (KSFM), Linköping University.

Framing talk

Magnus Linton, author and journalist

Panel: Research Ethics and Shared Authority 1

Moderator: Bodil Axelsson, Professor, Division of Culture, Society, Design and Media (KSFM), Linköping University.


  • Christopher Thompson, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Malmö University
  • Christine Schmidt, Deputy Director and Head of Research, The Wiener Holocaust Library
  • Elise Bath, Senior International Tracing Service Archive Team Manager, The Wiener Holocaust Library
  • Karen Nordentoft, PhD Stipend, Aarhus University
  • Trine Sørensen, Communication Manager and Curator, Godsbanen Aarhus.

Panel: Research Ethics and Shared Authority 2

Moderator: Olga Zabalueva, PhD candidate, KSFM, Linköping University.


  • Sandra Gruner-Domic, Social Anthropologist
  • Katia Orantes, Journalist
  • Megan Baker, Research Associate, Historic Preservation Department, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma
  • Jennifer P. Byram, Research Associate, Historic Preservation Department, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

Bridging Research Praxes-Across Pluralities of Knowledge April 28

Brief opening remarks

Victoria (Tori) Van Orden Martínez, PhD candidate, Division of Culture, Society, Design and Media (KSFM), Linköping University.

Panel: Citizen Science/Research

Moderator: Claudia Tazreiter, Professor, Division of Migration, Ethnicity and Society (REMESO), Linköping University.    


  • Birgit Eriksson, Professor, Aarhus University
  • Mie Hein Jørgensen, Project Manager, INSP Roskilde
  • Anders Nordberg Sejerøe, Community and Development Manager, Holbæk Libraries
  • Stefan Jonsson, Professor, Linköping University
  • Anna Ådahl, Artist
  • Britta Geschwind, Post-Doctoral Researcher, Lund University.
  • Florence Fröhlig, Senior Lecturer, Södertörn University.

Bonus mixed panel

Moderator: Andreas Larsson, PhD candidate, Division of Learning, Aesthetics, Natural Science (LEN), Linköping University.


  • Tomas Kertész, Independent researcher
  • Juilee Decker, Rochester (New York) Institute of Technology/Collections journal
  • Barbara Wood, National Trust, UK
  • Armando Perla, Chief Curator, Toronto History Museums, City of Toronto

Graduate Course Show/Hide content

Tat knowledge circulates, or perhaps rather, is supposed to circulate, seems obvious. But packaged in what forms, and under what conditions and norms?

Together with Tema Culture and Society and the OA journal Culture Unbound COMPASS gave the graduate course Knowledge in Motion: Between Forms and Norms during the 2022 Spring term. The course will be given again in the Spring term of 2023. Read more in the course description.

News Show/Hide content

Contact us Show/Hide content

Previous seminars, lectures and conferences Show/Hide content

COMPASS reading group: Ignorance

June 9.

Room Tvärsnittet, Kopparhammaren 7 building, Campus Norrköping

The theme for this meeting is ignorance - a follow up on Per-Anders Forstorp's inaugural lecture in April 2022. The following text will be discussed; Owen Whooley & Kristin Kay Barker (2021) "Uncertain and under Quarantine: Toward a Sociology of Medical Ignorance" in Journal of Health and Social Behaviour. 

Bridging academic and non-academic research praxes - interdisciplinary dialogues on ethics, collaboration, and knowledge production

April 26-28, 2022.

An interdisciplinary and international conference consisting of dialogues on ethics, collaboration, and knowledge production. More information about the conference here.

Haitian-American anthropologist Michel-Rolph Trouillot, citing French historian Marc Ferro writes, “history has many hearths and academics are not the sole history teachers in the land.” It is a statement that raises the question of how academic and non-academic researchers in all disciplines and areas of research can not only recognize that knowledge is produced at different hearths, but also engage more ethically and collaboratively with what is produced in these different locations? Recognizing that searching for answers to this question cannot be left to arbitrary and haphazard engagements and encounters, but must be motivated, reflected on, and formulated clearly, this conference is designed as a platform for academic and non-academic researchers to engage in open dialog about the challenges and opportunities of bridging academic and non-academic research and praxes. 

COMPASS in collaboration with Tema Q and LiU Humanities.


What we know (and don’t) about ignorance

April 6, 2022. 

Professor Per-Anders Forstorp's inaugural lecture.


Patents as Temporal Montage: Reading the Past of Future Knowledge

March 31, 2022.

Eva Hemmungs Wirtén, Professor, Tema Q, discusses her third essay for the PASSIM-project.

Time is so intrinsic to the way we regulate knowledge that we hardly see it at all. Set differently in copyright, patents, and trademarks, legal time is not the only time that shape our understanding of intellectual property. During “The American Patent System Week,” the 125th jubilee of the 1836 Patent Act celebrated in October 1961, the official narrative conveyed an image of the patent system as a sequential totality of past, present, and future. Instead, temporal dissonance reigned below the surface. To unpack these tensions and contradictions, this essay focuses on one of the main reasons given for the celebration: the issuance of the third millionth patent. Granted to Kenneth R. Eldredge and General Electric for “Automatic Reading System” on September 12, 1961, patent 3.000.000 was carefully chosen to become the perfect representative of its time, innovation-wise. Influenced, however, by Michel Serres’ observation that the contemporary can only be contemporary by “montage,” by an aggregate of different scientific or technological solutions of different times, I consider patent 3.000.000 a composite of three different temporalities. Examining time, that administrative or bureaucratic time involved in determining novelty of the invention; legal time, the protection granted by the patent, and finally mnemonic time, the often-overlooked way in which the patent system celebrates and remembers itself. By combining these temporalities, I want to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of patents and their complicated social life in the intersection of systems, texts, times, and technologies.

COMPASS in collaboration with PASSIM-project.


"From Fossil to Fact: the Denisova Discovery as Science in Action"

February 18, 2022.

Mattis Karlsson, at the Department of Culture and Society, defends his thesis entitled "From Fossil to Fact: the Denisova Discovery as Science in Action". Opponent is Staffan Bergwik, Professor, Stockholm University.


Who/whom are responsible for oral and written research communication?

December 15, 2021.

With Cecilia Olsson Jers, associate professor of rethorics, Linnéuniversitetet Linnaeus University, as well as participants from the Communications Department at Linköping University.

Communicating research and research results to the already initiated is not usually a problem. Both the speaker/writer and listener/reader moves within a fairly familiar realm of language practices. For a PhD-student, however, it is neither enough nor sufficient to be able to communicate only with the already initiated. Being able to communicate with various groups of people also outside of the academy is actually codified in the goals for the graduate (PhD) level system of qualifications (Högskoleförordningen 1993:100). The goals focuses on the communicative practices of the PhD-student. What matters is being able and willing to use language with courage in order to promote clarity in research communication, without being overly reductive or simplistic – independent of who or whom are listening or reading. In this seminar, I want to discuss how the students can be encouraged to embrace these forms of communication, through giving examples from a PhD-level course in oral research communication.

In collaboration with Language and Culture.


The Birth of “Data Problems”: A Cultural Techniques Perspective on Some of the Major Concerns of the 1970s 

October 20 2021.

With Johan Fredrikzon, PhD, History of Ideas, Department of Culture and Aesthetics, Stockholm University.

During the 1970s the problems of the environment and of the population were reframed in a manner that still much influences our conception of them. How to make sense of the interaction between forces of environmental pollution? How to uphold the privacy of individuals as the knowledge banks of governmental agencies were coordinated? In my doctoral disseratation Kretslopp av data [Cycles of Data] (Mediehistoriskt arkiv, 2021), I argue that we need to understand these problems – which superficially may seem far apart – as consequences of changes within data management. Beneath the political mobilization of environmental movements as well as the stormy debates of privacy during these years we find what I choose to call the infrastructures and cultural techniques of early digitalization. These, I argue, contributed to presenting the environment and the population as “data problems”. That, in turn, gave rise to a number of changes in administrative offices and state archives and the work carried out there. In my lecture I wish to highlight a few aspects of this development.

In collaboration with Language and Culture.

Traces on the Tundra Skin: Politics and Ontologies of Conservation in the Soviet Arctic

December 9 2021.

With Dmitry Arzyotov.

The tundra covers 10% of Earth’s surface. Despite being home to Indigenous populations and a site for industrial development, to a significant degree tundra remains associated to the public with wilderness and emptiness and fragility. What are the genealogies of such perceptions? And how do they correspond to the histories of human-environment interactions in the high Arctic, including in the age of large-scale extractive industry? To answer this, the paper focuses on the relations between industrial and conservation projects in the Soviet Arctic tundra. Following the mechanical traces – in a strict material sense and as a metaphor – left behind from the military and the industrial developers of the region, the article examines three main interlinked “layers” of tundra histories in the 20th century: links between the tundra and the Other, the emergence of tundra as a fragile surface under the wheels of industrial all-terrain vehicles, and the complex history of one of the first tundra nature reserves (zapovednik) which coincided with the rise of the international discourse of biosphere. Thus the paper aims to overcome the marginal place the tundra occupies in much environmental history and move it closer to such prominent environmental objects as forests, mountains and seas.

In collaboration with Tema Culture and Society.


Medieval Knowledge Exchange: Strategies for Acquiring, Recording, and Disseminating Information about Fish between 1100 and 1400

September 23, 2021.

With Polina Ignatova, post doc COMPASS, IKOS

Modern ways of industrial fishing and fish farming subject fish to treatment which would be considered cruel and/or illegal if applied to terrestrial animals.

My project is investigating the origins of our modern attitudes towards fish by looking into medieval ways of studying aquatic organisms. During this talk I am going to summarise the purposes and methodology of the project, and to introduce the audience to its first findings - namely, the representation of fish in bestiaries.

In collaboration with Tema Culture and Society.