Aleksi Huhta, 27 March 2020 – CANCELED

(Canceled for new, new date TBA)

Emigrants for Empire: The Planning of Finnish Settler Colonies in British and American Imperial Borderlands, 1899–1905

Topelia A 109 (‘Russian Room’), 4-6 pm

In 1899, as Russification policies in Finland intensified, Finnish nationalists started to plan overseas settler colonies for Finns fleeing the Russian repression. They saw North America and Australia as especially suitable places of settlement. In planning these colonies, the Finnish activists cooperated with and relied on the support of diverse private and governmental actors in the British Empire and the United States. However, the motives of the British and Americans in encouraging Finnish settlement did not always align with those of the Finnish nationalists. This presentation examines the connections between political activists, private companies, and British and American governmental authorities in the planning of these Finnish settler colonies at the turn of the twentieth century. By combining insights from migration and imperial histories, the presentation explores the connections between Finnish migration history and the politics of empire in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The presentation is part of my Academy of Finland funded project, “Finnish-American Radicalism in a World of Empires” (2019–2022), which is implemented at the University of Helsinki’s Department of Culture (North American Studies).

Frog, 14 February 2020

Constructing the Folk Cultural Sphere: Agency, Media and Authority

Topelia, A 109, 4pm


This paper explores the dynamics of agency, media and authority in the maintenance and construction of the folk cultural sphere – i.e. a society’s generalized perception and understanding of traditional culture. The phenomenon is explored through a series of cases, organized more or less chronologically, beginning the with medieval manuscript technologies and Snorri Sturluson’s Edda, followed by print and textual representations of Sámi in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, a living ethnographic exhibition of Sámi in the nineteenth century, current fieldwork documenting Rotenese and Tetun traditions in Indonesia, and, finally, a community-driven living ethnographic exhibition of a so-called tourist village on the island of Java. The final discussion takes an overview of the perspectives gained from the individual cases to consider their broader implications.

Oona Simolin, 13 December 2019

Tourism beyond mere satisfaction? Heritage tourists as consumers, guests, citizens
Topelia, A 109, 3pm
Heritage is a powerful tool to promote the needs of the tourism industry as it marks the distinctions between destinations, therefore transforming spaces into places. Theoretically speaking the entanglement of heritage and tourism is, however, a complex topic that can be approached from various disciplines such as heritage and folklore studies, tourism and hospitality or sociology to name a few. In these disciplines, the visitor’s role may be understood differently: as an active audience member, customer of hospitality services, or even a citizen whose awareness is to be raised.

This presentation explores how cultural studies can extend the role of the visitor beyond that of consumer and offer new insights into the heritage visitor experience. The paper is based on guide interviews and fieldwork experiences at two sites: the Fortress of Suomenlinna and the Old Town of Tallinn. Moreover, the presentation seeks to discuss how the results of cultural studies and humanities can inform (sustainable) tourism practices. All participants are encouraged to share their experiences on the impact of cultural studies.

Kirsti Salmi-Niklander, 11 October 2019

 ‘Writers and Speakers of Walotar: Exploring Literacy Practices in the Finnish Immigrant Community on Cape Ann, Massachusetts’

Kirsti Salmi-Niklander

11 October, 16.00, Topelia A 109


The presentation is based on my long-term research on oral-literary traditions in 19th- and early 20th-century Finland and in Finnish immigrant communities in North America. I published several articles based on archival and fieldwork in Canada in 1993, and returned to immigrant culture during my period as an Academy Research Fellow (2011–2016). In 2012, I discovered the exceptionally large and rich collection of archival materials from the Finnish community on Cape Ann, Mass. in the Finnish American Heritage Center (Hancock, Michigan). Most of these materials were transported to the FAHC in 2009. The materials include church records, minutes, and the archives of temperance societies and other organizations. One highlight of the collection is Walotar (“Lady of Light”), a handwritten newspaper written by the members of the Walon Leimu temperance society between 1903 and 1925. This unique collection runs to 1200 pages, which makes it (as far as I know) one of the largest and most complete preserved collections of hand-written newspapers in the Finnish language. Walotar depicts the everyday life in the immigrant community, and simultaneously serves as a valuable linguistic document on the gradual development of American Finnish (“Finglish”).

Since 2012 I have visited Cape Ann five times, conducted interviews and documented materials at the Sandy Bay Historical Society, the Cape Ann Museum and in private collections. In the pilot project “Immigrant Book Culture in Comparative Perspective” (Future funds 2019) we have outlined a multidisciplinary project to study the immigrant heritage on Cape Ann. During the past years, local heritage activism has been revitalized in the Finnish community on Cape Ann, centered on the new organization Cape Ann Finns (CAF), founded in 2017. Another research interest is the “book ethnography”, based on my fieldwork on Cape Ann: this involves interviews and documentation of private collections of books, especially ABC-books and primary readers.

From memoirs and letters to blogs and microblogs – Transforming modes of immigrant book culture

Open symposium, Finnish Literature Society, 28.11., 10–16 o’clock

First Aid in Teaching, 6 September 2019

Everything you always wanted to know about teaching (but were afraid to ask)

Presenting Josephine Hoegaerts, Riikka Tuori and Antti Korpisaari

6 September 2019, 4 pm, Topelia A109

Do your students look at you in horror and despair when you want to discuss an article they just read? Do you feel making them talk about their reading is like pulling teeth? 

Don’t fret! 

HEL’s Culture Club is here to help … or at least to provide a space for commiseration and discussion.

In this first instalment of ‘First Aid in Teaching’ , we invite everybody to participate in a conversation about a very common challenge in (seminar) teaching: how to support students in the difficult task of reading and discussing a scholarly article. If you are an experienced teacher, please come and share your experiences and best practices, if you are starting to teach, come to gain inspiration and take courage, and if you were recently a student yourself, please come and tell us about your perspective!

After the seminar, we warmly invite you to join us at the Thirsty Scholar for a ‘back to school’ party .

(MA and PhD students are encouraged to attend and share their experiences!)

PS: we’re hoping to make ‘First Aid in Teaching’ a regular feature of the HEL’s Culture Club series. If you have ideas for more teaching-related discussions, let us know!




Josephine Hoegaerts, 22 February

Voices from the past? Articulating power and empire in the nineteenth century

Josephine Hoegaerts

22 February, 16.15 Topelia A 132


What did politicians sound like before they were on the radio and television? The fascination with politicians’ vocal characteristics and quirks is often connected to the rise of audio-visual media. But in the age of the printed press, political representatives also had to ‘speak well’ – without recourse to amplification.

Historians and linguists have provided sophisticated understandings of the discursive and aesthetic aspects of politicians’ language, but have largely ignored the importance of the acoustic character of their speech. The CALLIOPE (“Vocal Articulations of Identity and Empire”) project studies how vocal performances in parliament have influenced the course of political careers and political decision making in the 19th century. It shows how politicians’ voices helped to define the diverse identities they articulated. In viewing parliament through the lens of audibility, the project offers a new perspective on political representation by reframing how authority was embodied (through performances that were heard, rather than seen). It does so for the Second Chamber in Britain and France, and in dialogue with ‘colonial’ modes of speech in Kolkata and Algiers which, we argue, exerted considerable influence on European vocal culture.

In my talk, I’ll discuss the main methodological tenets of this project, and some (very preliminary) results and echoes from the archives.


Volker Heyd, 30 November

Yamnaya Groups and Kurgans West of the Black Sea

Volker Heyd

30 November, 17.15, Topelia A 109


This presentation lends its title from an article I published in 2011 under nearly the same headline. To be realistic and honest, what I wrote then now seems lightyears away…

Genetics and ancient DNA have tied in since, highlighting the importance of Yamnaya in an ethnical, social and cultural upheaval covering all of Europe, surely the most important since the introduction of farming, and arguably one that the European Continent has never experienced thereafter.   Over the last years, this new interest and understanding has led, in turn, to enhanced efforts to look into the Yamnaya west of the Black Sea, both in re-addressing old finds and triggering new digs. It also pushed further scientific analyses, and will do so even more in the future. These special circumstances also led all of us dealing with the third millennium to re-consider previous conclusions. In consequence, a completely new picture is about to emerge. I will present today this emerging picture, thus describing the state-of-the-art in late 2018, at the eve of my own ERC Advanced YMPACT project.

Ville Hakanen, 19 October

Constructions of desire and masculinity in ancient Roman wall paintings

19 October, 16.15, Topelia A 109

Three spaces of entertainment, three pictorial ensembles representing desire, three images of a beautiful youth offering a drink to the supreme god – his lover. How did images of Ganymede, the pin-up of homoerotic charm in antiquity, frame the Roman banquet where real life slave boys would play his role? How was the myth combined with and juxtaposed to other images of mythological desire? How did they work together in the construction of the norms of Roman masculinity? In this paper I explore the relationship between erotic mythological paintings and the ancient viewer’s erotic subjectivity in the context of a banquet. I argue that an image can be thought of as a performance participating in the performative production of gender. Viewers would have reflected it against the norm which the image would have contemporarily helped to construct. Since selfhood and the norms of desire were seen through the ideal of masculine, phallic control, it would have determined the framework for the viewing. However, the illusory nature of images would have enabled vicarious exploration of counter-normative possibilities, and the decorations might have played with this tension.

Francisco Martinez, 28 September

Analogue photo booths in Berlin: A stage, a trap, a condenser and four shots for kissing the person you love

Francisco Martínez

28 September, 16.15, Topelia A 109

Why do analogue photos still fascinate young people? Why, for some purposes, might vintage technologies be considered more authentic than newer ones? And what is the contribution of old-school photo booths to Berlin as a city? In casting an ethnographic eye on analogue photo booths in Berlin via empirical data (participant observation and 60 interviews with users), this paper makes a case for the continued relevance of analogue technologies and practices in the contemporary digital age. The argument highlights the inconsistencies in the linear theories of media development and social change, thus pointing to a complex co-existence of actual and emerging technologies and practices. In this paper, I will also consider how the relationship between these old-school booths and Berlin is reciprocal, becoming part of the city’s scene, assembling people, displaying and materialising relationships, thereby providing an opportunity to be private in public and functioning as a cultural condenser, which simultaneously benefits from the local idiosyncrasy and contributes to making the city itself a place.


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Francisco Martinez, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher in Cultural Heritage at the University of Helsinki of and an associate editor of the Anthropological Journal of European Cultures and of Suomen Antropologi: Journal of the Finnish Anthropological Society. He has edited several books, curated different exhibitions, and has been awarded a dozen of scholarships. For five years, he worked as a correspondent in Russia, Germany, Turkey, and Portugal, publishing over 550 articles and participating in 150 television programs. His monograph Remains of the Soviet Past in Estonia. An Anthropology of Forgetting, Repair and Urban Traces will be published in 2018 by UCL Press.