Go Back

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

The daily life of an immigrant

Even though there is a strong individualist ethos in ethnology, from the outset I have preferred to do my research work in a multidisciplinary setting. I found natural collaborators for my research on Swedish-Finnish culture in history. More recently I have been increasingly interested in working with linguists.

In my article ‘Everyday Language Policies: Embodiment of Language-Related Experiences of Finnish Women in Sweden’, I draw on Scollon & Scollon’s concept of the ‘historical body’ in my interview data from Västerås. The article analysed how Finnish women emigrants found their way around their new cultural environment, one in which the language and cultural choreography were unfamiliar. How to give birth in Swedish? How did you go shopping in Sweden in a time when there were no self-service shops and you had to be able to refer to the object to be purchased by name or at very least point to it? How could you convince the employer that you were skilled, when you didn’t even manage the language yet?

The article has examples of holdups in daily routines but also how the macro-level policy gave immigrants new opportunities. Before the universal provision of school education, young Finnish women hadn’t necessarily been given the chance to study beyond elementary schooling. The move to Sweden gave many a route into adult education. In times of particularly poor employment prospects Finnish emigrés were directed towards study. Nearly all of them studied the language and many passed exams at basic school and undergraduate level as well as in professional examinations. Emigration could also have been a way into university studies at a time when it would have proved nigh impossible back in the home country.


The authors of Maailman paras maa (‘The best country in the world’, 2012, SKS) at a meeting in Berlin in 2010. Photo: Anu Koivunen.​
The authors of Maailman paras maa (‘The best country in the world’, 2012, SKS) at a meeting in Berlin in 2010. Photo: Anu Koivunen.​


Go Back