Research profile

I currently work as a University researcher in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Helsinki. I act as the PI of a collaborative project Postcolonial Apology and Legacies of Problematic Pasts, funded by the Kone Foundation. In this project, my main interest is in developing the theory of postcolonial apology by critically examining its partial scope and silences. Ethnographically, I focus on the continuum of the reconciliation process to British child migrants, concentrating in particular on the children sent to late colonial Rhodesia.

My previous, still on-going project, Children as an “Imperial Investment”: British Child Migration to Colonial Southern Rhodesia, which I have undertaken as the Academy of Finland Research Fellow, forms the theoretical and empirical background for the current research. The study focuses on British post-war child migration to colonial Rhodesia and is concerned with the fragmentedness of memory, issues of silence and silencing, questions of migration, education and institutional socialization connected to building imperial citizens, as well as temporal unfolding of child migrant kinship.

Prior to these two projects, my research has focused particularly on the study of colonial and postcolonial white settler communities of mainly British background, their identity politics and social memory practices in Eastern and Southern Africa. In my PhD work Memory Meanders: Place, Home and Commemoration in an ex-Rhodesian Diaspora Community I examined a diasporic community of white former “Rhodesians” currently living in South Africa. I studied the community’s social memory practices including commemorative rituals, food events, mnemonic objects and circulating memory narratives, for example those related to the nostalgic imaginings of colonial Rhodesian landscapes. My first ethnographic research was based on fieldwork in Kenya. It focused on the construction of white identity, the continuity of colonial institutions and the genre of life-historical narratives of former settler colonials.

My other research interests include the anthropology of food, especially issues related to food and memory, commensality and reciprocity, as well as the anthropology of heritage linked to heritage landscapes, memory politics, and questions of nostalgia as well as to the anti-memorials of silenced past.

I have been an active board member of the Finnish Anthropological Society for many years. From 2015 until 2018 I served as the president of the Society.