Karjala muistin paikkana ja utopiana

Project: Karelia as a Place of Memories and Utopias
Funding: Academy of Finland
Funding period: 2005–2008
Name of the researcher in charge: Outi Fingerroos, Dr. phil

Description of the project:

In 1973, Hannes Sihvo published his study Karjalan kuva. Karelianismin taustaa ja vaiheita autonomian aikana, the only monograph about the phenomenon of Karelianism. It doesn’t cover the period of Finland’s independence. The researcher notes that there is a need for a critical analysis within comparative religion and cultural studies in general, because Karelianism has left a permanent mark in the collections of Finnish folklore archives and in research on Karelia. We are currently living in a kind of revival of Karelianism, and, in addition to this, the images and memories of Karelia have undergone constant change in the course of the past 80 years.

Karelia as a Place of Memories and Utopias is a project that studies the memories of the Karelian Isthmus that Finns who evacuated the area during World War II have. This project concentrates particularly on those memories that evacuees who have come from the Karelian Isthmus possess. The aim of the study is to find, construct and analyse the different ways in which the past is remembered and ritualised, the experiences of different generations of Karelia, and the phenomenon of “new Karelianism”. Karelia is not just an abstraction but a place of memories and utopias for Karelian evacuees. Their utopias are different than those of supporters of Karelianism because of their misery and dreams about going back to a home that exists only in their memories.

Outi Fingerroos has made her analysis within the field of ethnology, comparative religion and folkloristics by using the critical methodologies of oral history, human geography, and cultural studies. Epistemologically, she has placed herself in the fields of social constructivism and critical cultural studies. Key concepts of the study are Karelian Isthmus, memory, places, places of memory, utopias, rituals, myths and (new) Karelianism.