PASSIMer of the month (Mattis)

Mattis Karlsson is PASSIM’s research assistant and a much recent PhD at the Department of Culture and Society, and he is also our most recent PASSIMer of the month.

I defended my PhD thesis just recently. Therefore, this seems an appropriate moment to look back on my time as a PhD student and, of course, the important role that PASSIM has had in it.

When I was first enrolled as a PhD student at Linköping University in 2015 I was placed under the supervision of PASSIM PI, professor Eva Hemmungs Wirtén. At the time PASSIM was still in its most early stages. When in October 2015 Eva organised a workshop at the impressive Mundaneum in Mons Belgium, she kindly asked me to join. The workshop would function as a brainstorm, Eva would present the project (to be) for a carefully selected group of people and gather their input and discusses their potential roles in the project. And so, at this workshop I was introduced to a group of skilled scholars and sharp intellectuals, but more importantly, genuinely nice people. As a part of PASSIM I would come to work closely with some of these scholars, and throughout my time as a PhD student the project PASSIM and the people within it has meant a great deal. While my own research has not formally been a part of PASSIM, it is hard to imagine what it would look like had I not been involved in the project.

PASSIM has been immensely stimulating from an intellectual point of view, however it has also been a practical learning experience because of all the hands-on chores that a large and international project involves. In my role as research assistant, I have booked hotel rooms and restaurants, flights, and trains. I have organised symposiums and workshops, read and assessed abstracts and proposals, as well as managed the project project’s external communications, such as the websites, social media, blog, streams and video content. But, PASSIM has also helped me broaden my own research horizons. Last year I presented a paper at the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) annual meeting. The paper explored the use of patents as (mis)information by flat earth agitators. It was the first time that patents featured in my own work, but I hardly think it will be the last. My thesis From Fossil to Fact: The Denisova Discovery as Science in Action concerns the 2010 discovery of the Denisovans, a previously unknown type of humans discovered through the mapping of ancient DNA. The thesis deals with the Denisova discovery as a case of science in the making, and illustrates how the Denisova human was made, and made to fit the major paradigms and narratives of ancient DNA and evolutionary science. The thesis actualises questions about social influence in science, problematising imaginaries of science/non-science divides, and highlights how the authority of genetic science is subject to and dependent on dramatisation.

Having now finished my PhD and returned fully to the service of PASSIM I am helping to organise our two upcoming workshops, ”Patents as Capital” and “Patents in the Service of War and Peace”, both to be held in Norrköping in May this year. And suitably, in April next year we plan to go back to Mundaneum, it will be a moment of full circle for PASSIM, and for me.


Mattis Karlsson and Gustav Källstrand making

Mattis Karlsson and Gustav Källstrand.

Mattis Karlsson’s PhD thesis From Fossil to Fact