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Touko  Vaahtera

Touko Vaahtera

Academy Research Fellow

Department of Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences and Business Studies | +358 50 477 4979

From 1.9.2023 to 31.8.2027, I work as an Academy Research Fellow on my project Cripping Digital Capacity (funded by The Research Council of Finland).

The project explores the recent history of the idea of digital capacity. In this way, it provides new perspectives for understanding the current powerful idea, in which citizens are assumed to develop digital skills. From the perspectives of critical disability studies and crip theory, the project both interrogates the centrality of capacity around digitalization and explores how disability has played a part in the history of digital capacity.

Previously, I have interrogated the centrality of capacity and capability in the cultural meanings of bodies in my book “Biopolitics of Swimming and the Re-articulation of Able-Bodiedness: Bodies of Latent Potential” (2022, Palgrave Macmillan).


“This wonderfully written book subjects swimming to a much-needed queer and disability analysis. Vaahtera asks us to reconsider the innocence of the question— can you swim?—and to explore together wider societal assumptions that we hold over ourselves and others associated with capacity, capability, and ability.” (Dan Goodley, Professor of Disability Studies and Education, University of Sheffield)

“Tackling urgent questions regarding the biopolitics of transnational and local bodily ‘capabilities,’ Touko Vaahtera challenges us to examine how we oriented towards able-bodiedness. Focusing on a wide range of cultural texts, and challenging what we might understand as both culture and text, this book offers a queercrip methodology for analysing the intersectional politics of embodied, collective living. It opens up how we read, understand and experience collective bodily norms and their contexts, whilst offering specifically queercrip ways of imagining alternative modes of being.” (Donna McCormack, Author of Queer Postcolonial Narratives and the Ethics of Witnessing; School of Humanities, University of Strathclyde)

My latest article (in Finnish):

Touko Vaahtera & Sirpa Lappalainen (2023) Vammaistutkimus koulutuspoliittisia ja antikapitalistisia kyvykkyysoletuksia haastamassa – Digitalisaation ajan ihmisteollisuus, Kulttuurintutkimus,

My latest article (in English):

Touko Vaahtera (2024) Strong and Weak Theories of Capacity: Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Disability, and Contemporary Capacity Theorizing, Open Cultural Studies,

Selected publications

On disability studies and ableism:

Vaahtera, T. 2022. Biopolitics of Swimming and the Re-articulation of Able-Bodiedness: Bodies of Latent Potential. Palgrave Macmillan.

Honkasilta, J. & Vaahtera, T. 2022. Vammaistutkimuksen teemanumero. Oppimisen ja oppimisvaikeuksien erityislehti NMI-Bulletin E/2022.

Vaahtera, T. & Savallampi, M. 2020. Kulttuuriset valtasuhteet ja antihierarkkiset mahdollisuudet koronaepidemian aikana / Cultural power relations and anti-hierarchical possibilities in the epidemic era. In Rehearsing Hospitalities Companion 2. Berlin: Archive Books, 127–139.

Vaahtera, T. & Lappalainen, S. 2018. Bodies of latent potential: abled imaginary and national belonging in Finnish cultural texts about swimming. Pedagogy, Culture & Society 26:4, 593–607.

Vaahtera, T. 2016. ‘We swam before we breathed or walked’: able-bodied belonging in popular stories of evolutionary biology. Disability & Society 30:5, 591–603.

Vaahtera, T. [E.] 2016. Biopolitics and the repressive hypothesis of the body. The case of swimming training in Finland. Scandinavian Journal of Disability Research 18:2, 142–153.

Vaahtera, T. [E.] 2012. Compulsory able-bodiedness and the stigmatised forms of nondisability. Lambda Nordica 17:1–2, 77–101.

On digitalization:

Vaahtera, T. & Lappalainen, S. 2023. Vammaistutkimus koulutuspoliittisia ja antikapitalistisia kyvykkyysoletuksia haastamassa – Digitalisaation ajan ihmisteollisuus, Kulttuurintutkimus, 40:2, 27-40.

Vaahtera, T. & Lappalainen, S. 2022. Able-mindedness and citizenship in education policy discourses on digital skills, Pedagogy, Culture & Society, DOI: 10.1080/14681366.2022.2156583

On education:

Mononen-Batista Costa, S. (Eds. A. Paakkari, H. Guttorm, E. Ikävalko, T. Kurki, M. Pyykkönen & T. Vaahtera). 2022. Yrittäjyys tyhjänä merkitsijänä – Tiedon ja subjektiuden tuotanto yrittäjyyskasvatuksessa. Helda Open Books.

Juva, I. & Vaahtera, T. 2017. Getting along – social skills required to be normal in the Finnish school. In T. Vaahtera, A-M Niemi, S. Lappalainen, and D. Beach (eds.) Troubling Educational Cultures in the Nordic Countries. London: The Tufnell Press, 52–67.

Vaahtera, T.; Niemi, A-M; Lappalainen, S. & Beach, D. 2017. Troubling Educational Cultures in the Nordic Countries.The Tufnell Press.

Guttorm, H.; Arvola-Olander, A.; Niemi, A-M; Vaahtera, T. [E.], et. al. 2014. Akateeminen kapitalismi ja kollektiivisuuksien paradoksaalisuudet tohtorikoulutuksessa. Aikuiskasvatus 34:2, 121–128.

On affect studies:

Vaahtera, T. 2020. Empatian kulttuurinen politiikka. Aikuiskasvatus 40:3, 187–190.


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