For the online keynotes BigBlueButton will be used. Links to the lectures will be provided beforehand. The 24.-26.08 keynotes are online and are also broadcast in Jakobi 2-226. The 27.08 keynote will have the lecturer Maximilian Schichs on-site physically in Jakobi 2-226 and be shown in BBB. Please bring headphones in order to avoid echo effects etc during discussions.


Iza Romanowska - Agents, networks and complexity - an introduction

Date: 24.08.


In the last few years, we have seen a surge in applications of two novel techniques in archaeology: agent-based modelling and network science. They seem to come with bold claims on their potential to revolutionise how we do archaeology but where exactly do we place them on the epistemological spectrum? Are they simply new tools for data analysis or something more?

In this introductory presentation, I will define, explain, and discuss the family of methods related to studying complex systems, and show their place within the archaeological research process. I will sketch out the ways in which these methods have transformed other disciplines and how they relate to the larger field of complexity science. Finally, I will highlight the issues and challenges that archaeology still needs to overcome to unlock the full potential of agent-based modelling and network science for our discipline.


Iza Romanowska ( is a complexity scientists working on the interface between social sciences and computer science. She originally trained and worked as an archaeologist before switching to computer-based research. Currently, she is working as a senior researcher and the head of the Social Simulation and Digital Humanities Research Group at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center leading a team of engineers and computer scientists who develop solutions for agent-based simulation (ABM) using High Performance Computing (for example, our supercomputer MareNostrum). We create models of mobility in ancient cities, look for patterns in demographic data, and create platforms for real-time pedestrian flow modelling. Dr Romanowska is a vocal advocate for a wider use of simulation in archaeological research, training next generations of ABM modellers through courses, workshops and published tutorials (e.g., She is also a co-author of an upcoming textbook on archaeological ABM.

Nick Couldry - Data colonialism and the hollowing out of the social world

Date: 25.08.


This talk will introduce the argument of Nick's new book, The Costs of Connection: How Data Colonizes Human Life and Appropriates it for Capitalism (co-authored with Ulises Mejias, Stanford University Press, August 2019) and foreground its implications for the social world and social knowledge. The talk will argue that the role of data in society needs to be grasped as not only a development of capitalism, but as the start of a new phase in human history that rivals in importance the emergence of historic colonialism. This new "data colonialism" is based not on the extraction of natural resources or labour, but on the appropriation of human life through data, paving the way for a further stage of capitalism. The new social and economic order being constructed through data processes make most sense within the long historical arc of attempts to appropriate resources and knowledge within colonialism. This new order creates new dependencies on platforms through which data is extracted, and also produces new forms of social discrimination, based on a reinvention of social knowledge. The result is a hollowing out of the social world, which for corporate capitalism takes on the paradoxical form of an emerging new social domain available for endless exploitation and manipulation. The talk will close with some reflections on what implications does this have for our methods of understanding the social world?


Nick Couldry ( a sociologist of media and culture. He is Professor of Media Communications and Social Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and from 2017 has been a Faculty Associate at Harvard's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. He is the co-founder of the website for encouraging dialogue on data colonialism with scholars and activists from Latin America. He jointly led, with Clemencia Rodriguez, the chapter on media and communications in the 22 chapter 2018 report of the International Panel on social Progress: He is the author or editor of fifteen books including The Mediated Construction of Reality (with Andreas Hepp, Polity, 2016), Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Media Practice (Polity 2012) and Why Voice Matters (Sage 2010). His latest books are The Costs of Connection (with Ulises Ali Mejias, Stanford UP 2019), Media: Why It Matters (Polity 2019), and Media Voice Space and Power: Essays of Refraction (Routledge 2020).

Sofia Gavrilova - Historical GIS: applying methods of spatial analysis to the historical and social data

Date: 26.08.


The emerging interdisciplinary field of spatial histories adds a spatial dimension to a vast majority of historical and social data, pushing the researchers to pose new questions, find and adopt news research methods and reconstruct historical events and narratives. One of the main tools of spatial history are the possibilities provided by Geographical Information Systems, which were originally developed by geographers. During her lecture Sofia will present (a) the emerging field itself (b) talk about the most successful and interesting projects (c) provide a overview of the approaches, methods and tools which could be applied to the subject. 


Sofia Gavrilova ( is a geographer, who has recently finished her PhD at the University of Oxford, and has her academic background in human geography of post-Soviet countries, applying methods of GIS and spatial analysis to various sorts of historical and geographical data. Specifically Sofia was working on the landscapes of the Soviet Repressions, mapping gulag, ethnic deportations, and forced resettlements during Soviet era. She graduated and got her candidate of Science degree from Moscow State University, and has been involved in teaching GIS in various Russian and European Universities. RIght now, Sofia is working at Leipzig institute of landeskunde in the Collaborative Research Centre (SFB) 1199: “Processes of Spatialization under the Global Condition” project.

Maximilian Schich - A Systematic Approach to Cultural Analysis

Date: 27.08.


Cultural (Data) Analysis aka Cultural Analytics is an increasingly established area of research, emerging from a meaningful convergence of a broad variety of perspectives, topics, source material, and methods. Initially driven by a few radically multidisciplinary individuals coming from the arts, the humanities, the social sciences, from physics, and computation, the field now increasingly grows to form the proverbial village it takes to become a team-driven intrinsic multidisciplinary and systematic science. As such, Cultural Analysis embraces the scope, yet also transcends the relative separation and boundedness of traditional cultural disciplines including cultural semiotics, of digital humanities, of socio-cultural data science, of culture-curious natural science, and both critical and creative information aesthetics. The CUDAN project at Tallinn University, which is funded by the European Commission with 2.5 million Euro, aims to spearhead this convergence of Cultural Analysis to collectively nurture our understanding of cultural interaction and dynamics. In this talk I will both lay out some systematic foundations and give a first glimpse into the configuration of the CUDAN research group, which is scheduled to commence their collaborative work in the following week.


Maximilian Schich ( is a multidisciplinary researcher collaborating to understand the nature of cultural interaction via a systematic combination of qualitative inquiry & quantification, of computation, and aesthetics. Max's ongoing research emerges from and builds on a background in art history, network science, computational social science, and an applied experience as a “cultural database pathologist”. Previously, Max's PhD monograph pioneered network analysis in art research, focusing on antique reception and visual citation. A Network Framework of Cultural History in Science Magazine and the Nature video Charting Culture later made global impact in the press. In recent years, Max has focused on the upcoming Cultural Interaction book, which outlines a systematic science of art and culture based on two decades of work. Returning to Europe from UT Dallas, Max now joined Tallinn University as the CUDAN ERA Chair and professor for Cultural Data Analytics (cf.