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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

From logging camps in Lapland's wilderness to factories in Sweden

Research topics are often born out of the unfinished business of previous research, and this is exactly what happened to Hanna Snellman. In her doctoral thesis she examined logging in Kemijoki river valley in northern Finland as a kind of an epoch: the forest industry created jobs that dealt with harvesting and transporting raw material for the forest industry in an area where there weren't enough people to do all the work. This meant that there was a huge wave of migration from other parts of Finland to Lapland. Half a century later, with the mechanisation of timber collection, the grandchildren of these immigrants had almost no chance of finding work. Once again, immigration was a way to adapt to the new circumstances.

In the 1960s and 1970s, thousands of people moved from Lapland to Southern Finland, and also to Sweden. For example, almost one per cent of the inhabitants in the municipality of Salla, situated on the eastern border, moved to Sweden. With the relocation process nearing its peak, the locals took to calling Gothenburg the largest village in Salla. This metaphor was dissected in the research project led by Hanna Snellman by examining the cultural effects of migration over two generations. One of the doctoral theses completed for the project is Marja Ågren's “'Är du finsk eller...?' En entnologisk studie om att växä upp och leva med finsk bakgrund i Sverige” (''Are you Finnish or...?' An ethnological study of growing up and living with a Finnish background in Sweden', University of Gothenburg 2006).

“The word savotta (‘logging site’) is derived from the Russian word for factory. In a sense, logging sites were factories in the wilderness. In Sweden, on the other hand, you would most likely be working in a factory and your home would be transformed from a resettlement plot to a flat in a suburb built as part of Sweden's Million Programme. It took great resourcefulness on the part of the immigrants to make everyday life, for example child care, run smoothly,” says Hanna Snellman.

Snellman's forest history research theme has continued as a collaboration between Canadian and Uruguayan researchers on a project examining the human impact of a globalised economy: Finland and Ontario, Canada are seen as areas where pulp mills are being shut down and South America as one where they are being set up. However, the focus of Snellman's research is always the people and their experiences.

In her research on Finnish immigrants, Professor Snellman places due emphasis on the study's social impact.

“It’s only relatively recently that Finland has been in a position of receiving immigrants and has a lot to learn from the mistakes and triumphs Finnish immigrants experienced in Sweden. Sharing information from the past if of relevance here: the Uruguayan worker who makes a living from eucalyptus is in many ways in the same situation as the lumberjack in 1890s Lapland or Ontario.”

Photo:  Caption: A puzzled Finnish boy wearing a quintessentially Finnish ‘Jussi’ shirt at a Christmas party in Västerås, Sweden in 1977. Photo: Maija Parviainen.​
Photo: Caption: A puzzled Finnish boy wearing a quintessentially Finnish ‘Jussi’ shirt at a Christmas party in Västerås, Sweden in 1977. Photo: Maija Parviainen.​


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