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Hanna Snellman

Hanna Kyllikki Snellman
Born 16 April, 1961, Sodankylä

Master of Arts, 1986 and Doctor of Philosophy 1997 (European ethnology), University of Helsinki

Vice-Rector 2018–, Professor of European Ethnology 2012, Dean 2017–2018Vice-Dean 2014–2016, Acting Dean 2014–15, University of Helsinki
Assistant, Finno-Ugric Ethnology, 1987–2004, University of Helsinki
Acting Assistant, Cultural Anthropology, 1991, University of Oulu
Docent, Finno-Ugric Ethnology, University of Helsinki, 2001
Academy Research Fellow, 2004–2007 and Research Fellow, Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki
Finnish Chair, Lakehead University, Canada
Docent, European Ethnology, University of Oulu, 2010
Professor of Ethnology, 2009–2012, University of Jyväskylä

Publications, research projects and other academic activities

Photo: Ari Aalto
Authors: Hanna Snellman and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.)
Translated by John Calton

European Ethnology – a discipline with depth

Ethnology as an academic discipline originated as a national project, and ‘national’ was the key word in the arguments made to the decision-makers in the newly independent state. The chair in ethnology was founded in 1921 in honour of Finland’s independence. However, the professorship was more than supranational in scope: until the twenty-first century it bore the title ‘Professor of Finno-Ugric Ethnology’.

“Modern ethnology provides a perfect basis for researching the big challenges faced by an interconnected world. In my own research on emigration, I have focused on Finnish immigrants in Sweden and Canada. The theoretical research literature on immigration has brought a whole new dimension to my research,” Professor Hanna Snellman explains.

In her research, Snellman has shed light on the history of ethnology many times. In the article “Kansatieteellisten karttojen takaa” (‘What lies behind ethnological maps’) in Kotiseutu ja kansakunta. Miten suomalaista historiaa on rakennettu (‘Homeland and nation. How Finnish history has been built’, Pirjo Markkola, Hanna Snellman and Ann-Catrin Östman, eds. SKS 2014), she explains the theories and methods related to the idea of collecting oral history in the 1950s as practised by the Finnish National Museum.

“My predecessor Juhani U. E. Lehtonen, who was Professor of Ethnology in the years 1980-2010, passed the material on to me, suggesting it was a complete collection. Back in the day, he had got the first surveys printed in the 1950s and 1970s from the initiator of the survey project, his predecessor, Professor of Ethnology Niilo Valonen. Lehtonen had added more material to the collection for as long as the survey project of the National Board of Antiquities continued, until the turn of the millennium.

According to Hanna Snellman, the material is particularly interesting from the perspective of methodological nationalism, the connection of the study to a nationalist frame of reference.

”It seems clear that surveys were used to gather information about Finland and even bolster the perception of Finnishness as somehow pure. It happened in a time when urbanisation and industrialisation had yet to have a strong impact on something that might be called ”pure Finnishness”. Ethnological maps included the border Torne River Valley on the Swedish side, Eastern Karelia and sometimes also Värmland. Drawing the maiden of Finland with two arms also amounted to a political statement.

Hanna Snellman in China in 2014. Xiamen University campus on the background. Photo: Nello Angerilli.​
Hanna Snellman in China in 2014. Xiamen University campus on the background. Photo: Nello Angerilli.​


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