ETHOS Lab happily welcomes lab member Alena Thiel – in fact, we did quite a while ago now. But we would like to introduce you all to her as well. Alena has recently received the Horizon Europe’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Postdoctoral fellowship for her project, MUNDI. For this project, Alena will investigate the use of digital innovations for predictive anticipation, real-time analysis, and early intervention in multiple and intersecting threats to human security in Ghana. You can read more about the project here.
Below, Alena reflects further on her work…
What is currently making you excited about your research?
My current work addresses questions of profound environmental, political, and technological changes. In a classic ethnographic fashion, I am motivated by unpacking how these dynamics intersect in concrete local administrative settings. As the effects of climate change exacerbate political tensions across the world, how is the collection and circulation of life-saving disaster management information affected by institutional challenges? And can digital technologies equip planners and early responders with better analytical tools to – ultimately – accelerate interventions, while advancing accountability?
How are you engaging with the current discourse around democracy through your work?
My work directly engages with questions of democracy by tracing how public administrations deal with the extreme variabilities of disaster incidents. Technological advancements, such as disaster predictions modelled on satellite imagery or the construction of physical flood control infrastructure inevitably affect local sites in unintended ways. What negotiations occur around the use of these technologies? For example, when experts’ technoscientific approaches conflict with other forms of (environmental) knowledges, such as sentinel species or lived experience. And what happens when these solutions cause other types of harm?