Public defence of Doctoral degree: Virginija Popovaitė

Nord-bokstavene utenfor hovedinngangen i Bodø
Public defence of Doctoral degree: Virginija Popovaitė
Virginija Popovaitė will defend her PhD degree in Sociology at Nord University, Faculty of Social Sciences.

Title of the thesis:

Lost, Found, and in Between. Following Maps in Norwegian Rescue Services in Northern Norway 

Topic for the trial lecture:

Actor-network theory meets new materialism:
Describe the relationship between actor-network theory (ANT) and new materialism. How did the two fields originate, how do they contribute to one another and how do they differ?

Time for trial lecture: 10:15 - 11:15
Time for dissertation: 12:15 - 15:30
Place: Auditorium Elias Blix (A13), Bodø and digitally
Chair of defence: Vice-dean Cecilie Høj Anvik

Adjudication committee: 

  • Associate Professor Tone Huse, UiT
  • Professor P. Whitney Lackenbauer, Trent University
  • Professor Christian Lo, Nord University


  • Main supervisor: Professor Grete K. Hovelsrud, Nord Univeristy
  • Internal co-supervisor: Associate professor Corine Wood-Donnelly, Nord University
  • External co-supervisor: Research professor Monica Tennberg, University of Lapland

The thesis is available for viewing by contacting Anneli M. Watterud:

Summary of the thesis:

In my thesis, I analyse how the use of digital mapping platforms influences the response capacity of Norwegian rescue services in the Norwegian Arctic and sub-Arctic. My research is situated within more-than-human sociology and leans on three pillars: new materialism, actor-network theory, and critical cartography. I investigate maps as processes with the aim of exploring their roles within Norwegian rescue services. I do so by analysing how maps are assembled through socio-material mapping practices.

My regional focus is on northern Norway. I collect data through semi-structured interviews, informal communication, observations in various sites where maps are practised, and a document analysis. I employ the concepts of “assemblages”, “translations”, and “practices” to guide me through my data collection and analysis.

My study resulted in three solo-authored articles. With my first one, I explore how digital maps gain functionality in the maritime SAR settings by following the interactions between more-than-human actors. With the second, I analyse how maps interlink with the response capacity of rescue services on land, emphasising their potential to create space for cross-organisational collaboration. In my third article, I investigate various mapping practices in Svalbard regarding navigation and how they influence response capacity.

The findings reveal that the availability of mapping solutions has the potential to strengthen or weaken the response capacity, especially in remote areas. With identified assemblages, I provide a more nuanced way of understanding the roles of maps, and I share practical insights regarding the further development of digital mapping solutions. I argue that maps generate conditional knowledge, in turn shaping mapping practices, highlighting the importance of understanding socio-technological entanglements in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions. My study contributes to emergency preparedness studies, critical cartography, and sociology.


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