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Towards New Forms of Engagement – Celebrating 100 Years of Finnish Ethnology

  • Discussion event
  • Webinar
  • Languages and cultures
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University of Eastern Finland is making a noticeable contribution to the 15th Congress of SIEF, the International Society for Ethnology and Folklore, which is to be held at the University of Helsinki on June 14-24 this year. The UEF-sponsored online event is entitled "Towards New Forms of Engagement - Celebrating 100 Years of Finnish Ethnology". It will be held on Sunday 20 June at 12:30 pm Finnish time, lasting until 2 pm. The event can be followed via Zoom. The event sets off the SIEF Congress, which is themed Breaking the Rules? Power, Participation, Transgression. More than a thousand participants from around the world have registered for the congress. 

The UEF-sponsored event celebrates the centenary of Finnish ethnology and discusses the ways in which ethnology, and cultural research in general, has engaged in social and political activism. Today's ethnology is to an increasing extent collaborative and interconnected to a variety of identity environments. In accordance with the "engaged turn" of ethnography, research is geared towards social responsibility and engagements in civil activities both transnationally and within communities. Scholarly activity is characterized by ethical and even political activism, especially regarding humanitarian and environmental concerns, sustainable development, and minority rights, including those of the non-human kinds. 

Things were different in the early days of Finnish ethnology, when the key assignment constituted of assembling comparative cultural data from among the illiterates and semi-illiterates within and selectively beyond the ethnologists' own national borders. In addition to their interest in the material aspects of the retreating peasant culture, individual collectors were searching for tokens of national antiquity as resources for a folk-based collective identity ("ethnos" as "demos") in the modern nation-state. 

The questions to be discussed in the event include the relationship between academic activism and scientific objectivism, the relationship between academic activism, patriotism and populism, and the gentrification of the "folk" into middle-class, reflexively modern consumers whose identities are designed and narrativized by, for example, media companies and the clothing industry. 

The event is chaired by Dr. Pertti Anttonen, Professor of Cultural Studies at UEF, and the panel also includes Dr. Tuulikki Kurki, another Professor of Cultural Studies at UEF. Other speakers are Dr. Anna-Maria Åström, Professor Emerita of Ethnology at Åbo Akademi University, Postdoctoral Researcher and Philosopher of Science Inkeri Koskinen from the University of Tampere, and Dr. Konrad Kuhn, Professor of Ethnology at the University of Innsbruck. They will be joined for discussion by Dr. Valdimar Hafstein, Professor of Ethnology and Folkloristics at the University of Iceland, Professor Nevena Škrbić Alempijević from the Department of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Zagreb, and Professor Bernhard Tschofen from the Department of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies at the University of Zurich. The closing remarks will be given by Dr. Coppelie Cocq, Professor of Ethnology at the University of Helsinki. 

The program for the event is available on the SIEF website at


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