University of Jyväskylä

Dissertation: 16.1. Domestic Dexterity and Cultural Policy. The Idea of Cottage Industry and Historical Experience in Finland from the Great Famine to the Reconstruction Period (Kraatari)

Start date: Jan 16, 2016 12:00 PM

End date: Jan 16, 2016 03:00 PM

Location: Seminaarinmäki, S212 (Vanha juhlasali/Old Festival Hall)

Eliza Kraatari, kuva Tatu KantomaaM.Soc.Sc., M.A. (Art and Design) Eliza Kraatari defends her doctoral dissertation in Cultural Policy/Political Science "Domestic Dexterity and Cultural Policy. The Idea of Cottage Industry and Historical Experience in Finland from the Great Famine to the Reconstruction Period". Opponent Professor University Lecturer Juri Mykkänen, PhD. (University of Helsinki) and custos Professor Emerita Anita Kangas (University of Jyväskylä). The doctoral dissertation is held Finnish.


The concept of cottage industry (kotiteollisuus) referred especially to rural craft practices. For the promotion of cottage industries, a state administrative organ and a network of cottage industry associations and schools were established. A sphere developed and monitored by specialists, cottage industry policies were planned as official committee work. However, the matter was usually addressed as ‘the idea of cottage industry’ (kotiteollisuusaate).

In this study, the historical idea of cottage industry and its cultural and political backgrounds are analysed. The starting point of the investigation is in the post-WWII Cottage Industry Production Committee, but from its years of activity, 1944–1949, the study moves on to the emergence and establishment of the idea of cottage industry and the respective policy line in the late 19th and the early 20th centuries. The study scrutinises, who promoted cottage industries and what their cultural, social, and ideological backgrounds were, and how they influenced the construction of cottage industry policy.

Research work builds on the microhistorical research angle making use of textual details in the 1949 committee report. Following the clue method, historical sources are analysed, including earlier committee reports, newspaper articles, meeting and exhibition documents, small publications, and personal archives. Through the notion of historical experience, special attention is paid to the continuity and recollection of the idea of cottage industry as it was expressed by the 1944–1949 committee members in the magazine Kotiteollisuus.

The study found that cottage industry created a 19th-century administrative and political concept that was applied in the first instance to manage critical situations caused by crop failures and other societal hardships. Especially in the aftermath of the WWII, cottage industry was essentially conceived of as a cultural political measure to balance the society facing large settlement and land acquisition projects by creating a sense of cultural continuity through the means of domestic craft practices. The historical idea of cottage industry and the respective sphere of administration summoned a remarkable cultural political factor that has strongly affected Finnish craft culture.

Keywords: cottage industry, history of cultural policy, cultural history, history of ideas, microhistory, historical experience, historical trauma, craft history, heritage policy, 19th-century Finland, 1860s’ famine, reconstruction period


The dissertation is published in the series Jyväskylä Studies in Education, Psychology and Social Research 544, 246 s., Jyväskylä 2016, ISSN 0075-4625; 544, ISBN 978-951-39-6455-9 (nid.), ISBN 978-951-39-6456-6 (pdf). It is available at the University Library’s Publications Unit, +358 (0)40 805 3825, Permanent link to this item:

Further information:

Eliza Kraatari, puh. 050 55 68 910,
Communications Officer Anitta Kananen,, puh. +358 40 805 4142


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Eliza Kraatari