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Nina Holm Vohnsen

PhD, Associate Professor

Nina Holm Vohnsen
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My current research:

I am broadly interested in 'policy-driven development' - i.e. the human attempt to steer development in a particular direction by use of policy such as legislation, action plans, project designs, and investment strategies. What currently interests me the most is all the undocumented effects such work has even if the main goal is never achieved or the policy never adopted. Questions that interest me are such as: What are the effects of decision never made? Of project never implemented? What is the economic effects of utopic dreaming? I pursue these interests in the following two research projects:

1) One research project focuses on the industrialization of Outer Space – in particular on business ventures in lower Earth orbit, the plans for mining the asteroids, and colonising the Moon and Mars. In this project I interview CEOs of start-up companies in what is called NewSpace ventures, I talk to space architects, space lawyers, space insurers, space environmentalists, propulsion specialists, specialists in space mining, employees from the various space agencies. A central site of this research is Luxembourg who had set themselves up to be world leading experts in space mining and hotbed of space start-ups.

2) A second research project funded by AUFF explores the idea of Basic Income and the way governments around the world try to rethink the relationship between nation states and their citizens through revised benefit schemes and cash transferrals. Concretely, I have been following the planning of a proposed Basic Income pilot in Fife, Scotland between 2017-2020.  

A third project is a blog called Mars: A Room of My Own (2018 - ). Here I pour out some of the ideas and analyses I write as a result of the above two research projects. You can follow my work as it progresses on this blog https://room-of-my-own.com/  The blog is partly about the attempt to colonize Mars and partly about people who want their own island or nation here on Earth. Again my interest is how these utopian dreams and ambitions are moving money, pushing inventions, creating alliances, shifting moral positions. It is also an attempt to understand why some of us need a space totally of our own and how that relates to creativity and freedom of thought. It is also about my own dream of escaping the shackles of what some has called 'the corporate university' and reinvent my academic life. Recently I got a chance to think about this in a podcast (in Danish): https://www.weekendavisen.dk/2020-8/24sporgsmal/giv-os-vilde-utopier

Alongside these two individual research projects I am PI on a project funded by VELUX (2019-2023), which examines and portrays the daily amount of work that unemployed people living on a low income have to do just to get by. The hypothesis the project explores is whether living in conditions of poverty in fact constitutes a type of work in its own right, and a type of work so exhausting as to prevent people from actually improving their situations and benefiting from current Danish welfare schemes. The aim of the project is to diagnose the concrete ways in which the most well-meant and well-planned policies sometimes end up draining the people they are meant to assist.

For students: 

I especially welcome students (for supervision) who are driven by curiosity. I welcome odd interests and strange field sites. 

Research areas

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