Strategic Practices: Hidden Histories of Gender in Finland 1880-2005


Strategic Practices: Hidden Histories of Gender in Finland 1880-2005 is a multidisciplinary research project employing three historians and three ethnologists. The research will be conducted during the period 2007-2010 in the Department of History and Ethnology, University of Jyväskylä, and the Department of History at the University of Helsinki.

The purpose of the project is to form a tightly-knit research community to address complex theoretical issues of gender and power which are more fruitfully addressed by an interdisciplinary project than individual researchers working separately. In sociological and historical studies of gender, the concept of gender system (sukupuolijärjestelmä) dominated empirical and theoretical research in the 1990s. Following post-structuralist and postmodern criticism of closed and deterministic systems models, however, the shortcomings of the sukupuolijärjestelmä model have become increasingly apparent. The sukupuolijärjestelmä model has proven too rigid and too abstract to promote deeper research on gender inequality and the role of human agency in it.

Utilizing widely-accepted qualitative methods and large bodies of empirical data, the project Strategic Practices will develop a new theoretical model to reinsert an historical understanding back into research on gender and power, and to trace out the dynamics of gendered power at the local, everyday level. Our ultimate aim is to give rise to serious new empirical research. The project is planned as a closely collaborative discussion group in which the guidance of postgraduate students, and the continued training of postdoctoral researchers, is paramount. Four doctoral dissertations and two post-doctoral studies will be completed within the project. A national conference to be held in 2009 and a joint anthology of articles will be produced in order to facilitate broader discussion. The research results will be useful for scholars in gender theory, social studies and the humanities.