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Border/land Sustainability

Communities at the External Border of the European Union

Karri Kiiskinen

This article contrasts the Finnish-Russian and Polish-Ukrainian borderlands situated at the external border of the EU. Based on multi-sited fieldwork, it observes how such EU level development concepts as sustainability and multiculturalism address cultural sharing as well as engage communities. Here everyday border crossings are limited, but the policies and practices of cross-border co-operation seek to produce sustainable border crossings in terms of projects and networking. The negotiations of the EU border by local Polish and Finnish actors reflect co-existing and alternative imaginations of borderland heritage. These heritages seem to suggest the 'right' ways not only for border crossings, but also for addressing the continuity and experience of cultural diversity. It is argued that recollections of borderland materiality in these ceded lands become a means for negotiating cultural borders, and verify the difference between European borderlands and borders.

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Rochelle Goldberg Ruthchild

Two of the earliest women's suffrage victories were achieved in the Russian Empire, in Finland and Russia, as a result of wars and revolutions. Their significance has been largely ignored, yet study of these achievements challenges the standard paradigms about the conditions (struggle within a democracy, geographic location on the 'periphery'), which favoured early suffrage breakthroughs. This article analyses the particular circumstances in Finland and Russia, which, in a relatively short amount of time, broke down resistance to giving women the vote. An examination of the events surrounding the February 1917 Russian Revolution, which toppled the Tsar, demonstrates the significant role of women in initiating and furthering the revolutionary momentum as well as fighting for their own rights. Both the Finns and the Russians pioneered in extending the legacies of the French and American Revolutions to include women.

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Powerlessness and Unfairness

A Letter to Jan Zielonka

Henri Vogt

Jan Zielonka’s Counter-Revolution: Liberal Europe in Retreat (Oxford University Press, 2018) is a furious, worried pamphlet on the challenges that European democracies are currently facing, on the apparent rise of illiberalism. This article critically reviews the book and seeks to offer a somewhat different and perhaps more optimistic picture of the current predicaments of European politics. The main point of reference in this respect is Finland, a country whose political institutions have managed, by and large, to uphold a sense of coherence in society. A commitment to participatory, equality-based, and freedom-generating institutions can indeed be seen as a primary means to counter the decline of liberalism.

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History between Red Brackets

The Cold War in History Museums around the Baltic Sea

Johan Hegardt

This article derives from the research project entitled “Art, Culture and Conflict: Transformations of Museums and Memory Culture around the Baltic Sea after 1989,” which was financed by the Foundation for Baltic and East European Studies, Södertörn University. It discusses how history museums in Finland, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have reacted to the fall of the Iron Curtain and the conclusion of the Soviet occupation of the three Baltic states. It argues that the Cold War is understood by the museums as a special historical epoch not comparable to any other historical period in these six countries. It concludes that to be able to deal with this particular point in history we either need to metaphorically put the Cold War in between red brackets, as it were, which makes it possible to address the Cold War when needed, or to place it outside the historical narrative of the modern rise of the five discussed nation-states.

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Sakari Taipale

This article reviews the recent studies on ICT mobilities in Finland. Based on the reviewed literature, the article makes three arguments. First, literature presents a distorted view that the ways of using ICTs have become increasingly universal. Second, researchers have not paid sufficient attention to the materiality of ICTs. Third, the most concrete consequences of ICT mobilities have largely remained unstudied.

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Spatialising university reform

Between a centre and a periphery in contemporary Finland

Sonja Trifuljesko

This article investigates contemporary attempts to reform the institution of the university according to neoliberal ideological influences and oppositions to them. It employs Doreen Massey’s concept of space to focus on relations and separations made in the process. My ethnography of the University of Helsinki’s 375th anniversary celebration, which turned into a public spectacle of various visions of higher education, constitutes the main empirical material. Finland’s ambivalent position in the world renders the spatial work of forging connections and disconnections particularly conspicuous. It enables specific neoliberal aspirations (such as to be among ‘the world’s best universities’ amidst global competition) to become very strong but also allows additional trajectories, like the one about higher education as public goods, to present themselves as legitimate alternatives. The centre-periphery relations are therefore critical sites for analysing the contemporary university transformation, since they appear to be key drivers of the reform but also the primary source of resistance to it.

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The Worth of the ‘While’

Time and Taxes in a Finnish Timebank

Matti Eräsaari

Taxation always involves an element of value quantification, since to tax is also to implement a measuring scale—a process that is usually taken for granted. But when it becomes necessary to determine the taxational value of abstract time or labor, it is also necessary to outline the principles upon which such value is established. This article discusses the conflicting views of the Finnish Tax Administration and the Helsinki Timebank, a local exchange network, about how to tax ‘whiles’, the community currency that equates to one-hour stretches of work time. Based on a 2013 ruling by the Finnish tax authority and the Timebank’s responses to it, the article asks, to what degree can the choice of a particular ‘standard’ be taken as a ‘moral’ choice?

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Aino Tormulainen

Karoliina Ojanen, Heta Mulari, and Sanna Aaltonen, eds. 2011. Entäs tytöt: Johdatus tyttötutkimukseen [But what about girls: Introduction to girls’ studies]. Nuorisotutkimusverkosto/Nuorisotutkimusseura, julkaisuja 113. Tampere: Vastapaino.

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Pertti Anttonen

All scholarly fields feed on rhetoric of praise and criticism, mostly self-praise and self-criticism. Ethnology and folklore studies are not exceptions in this, regardless of whether they constitute a single field or two separate but related ones. This essay discusses questions concerning ethnological practice and object formation, cultural theory and the theory of tradition (or the lack thereof), cultural transmission, cultural representation, and the ethics and politics of cultural ownership and repatriation. It draws on general observations as well as on work in progress. The main concern is with a discursive move: from tradition to heritage, from the ethnography of repetition and replication to cultural relativist descriptions and prescriptions of identity construction and cultural policy, from ethnography as explanation to ethnography as representation and presentation. In addition, the essay seeks to delineate other underlying tenets that appear to constitute our traditions and heritages - both as strengths and as long-term constraints and biases. Where is ethnology headed in its quest to transcend theories and practices? Less theory and more practice? More theory on practice? Or more practice on theory?

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Gerhard L. Weinberg

This article covers three aspects of the Holocaust that are commonly misrepresented or ignored. First, an endlessly repeated piece of misinformation, is the description of the Holocaust as a project to kill the Jews of Europe. Most ignore the evidence that all Jews on earth were to be killed, that some outside Europe were killed, and that there were preparations for the killing of Jews in the Middle East. The second is the German expectation of winning the war, and that certain policies in implementing the Holocaust can only be understood in the context of an expectation of easier completion after victory. The third aspect is the absence from most accounts of the personal interests of those doing the killing in promotions, medals, loot, etc. in the early years and in safety from dangerous assignment to fighting at the front in the later years of the war.