Aili Nenola
Humanist of the day

Aili Nenola

Professor emerita Aili Nenola started as a student of the Finnish language and comparative literature at the University of Turku in the early 1960s. Her dissertation on folklore and religious studies came out of research she did on Ingrian lamentations in 1982. The traditional laments of women inspired her to think about the roles of women in culture and society in general. A new stimulation was brought by getting acquainted with feminist literature and multidisciplinary and critical women’s studies, an area in which Nenola was one of the pioneers in Finland. Her university and science administration career started as a student member of a department council at the University of Turku and led all the way to becoming the first female dean of the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Arts.

Aili Nenola

Aili Annikki Nenola
Born October 27, 1942

BA 1971, licentiate 1975, PhD (Religious Studies) 1983 from the University of Turku

Dean of the Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki, 2004–2006
Professor of Women’s Studies, University of Helsinki, 1995–2006
Docent in Folklore Studies, University of Oulu, 1984–

Project researcher 1970–1975, Religious studies assistant 1975–1982, 1975–1979, 1980–1982, University of Turku
Academy of Finland research assistant 1975–1979
Nordic Institute of Folklore research secretary 1980–1982
Acting Professor of Folklore Studies and Religious Studies 1982–1990, 1993–1995, University of Turku
Academy of Finland Senior Researcher 1990–1992 (National Women’s Studies Steering Committee Director)
Acting assistant professor of Folklore studies 1992–1993, University of Turku

Research topics
Finnish folklore, ritual laments and lamentation, the culture of death and grieving, culture and communities from a female perspective, gender and violence

First Class Knight of the White Rose of Finland 1999
Kalevala Society Award 2003
University of Helsinki Maikki Frieberg Award 2004
Honorary doctorate from the University of Joensuu 2009
Christina Institute’s 20th Anniversary Honorary Kristiina Prize 2011

Photo: Mika Federley
Written by Aili Nenola (Kaija Hartikainen, ed.)
Translated by Joe McVeigh

The old saying ‘a man of many trades’ should now be fixed to read ‘a woman of even more.’ At least that is how I feel when trying to remember all the things that I have been involved in. For almost forty years I served in various university-related positions of trust in addition to teaching and research.

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