Anu Koivunen
Humanist of the day

Anu Koivunen

Initially educated as an art researcher, Anu Koivunen is a political nerd who grew into a scholar of gender, power and media. She has studied the history of Finnish film and television, and gendered narratives of nationality. At present she is researching the requisites of the political public sphere and the role of television as a creator of the national public sphere in the 1960s and 1970s, new presentations of Finland-Swedish identity and the 1960s films of Jörn Donner.

Anu Koivunen

Born January 29, 1967, Kemi

PhD 2003 (media studies), University of Turku
Licentiate 1994 (Film and television studies), University of Turku
Master of Arts 1992 (Film and television studies), University of Turku
Docent in media culture 2004, University of Tampere
Docent in Film and Television studies and women’s studies 2004, University of Helsinki

Senior research fellow in the research project Driving Forces of Democracy 2015–17, University of Helsinki
Professor of film studies 2012–, Stockholm University (leave of absence 2015–17)
Acting professor of media culture 2006–07, University of Tampere
Lecturer of film studies 2005–11, University of Stockholm
Academy of Finland postdoctoral researcher 2004, University of Helsinki
Acting lecturer of women’s studies 2001–03, University of Helsinki

Research themes:
The history of film and television, gender and nationality, the construction of emotions in the media, the political public sphere

Publications, research projects and other academic activity:

Driving Forces of Democracy research project, the national public spheres of radio and television

Stockholm University research database

Digitala Vetenskapliga Arkivet (Diva) publications database

Photo: Bart van der Gaag
Written by Anu Koivunen (Kaija Hartikainen ed.)

Translated by Matthew Billington

In the research project Driving Forces of Democracy (2015–17), I am researching how television as a mass public sphere (a so-called broadcasting system) framed public debate in Finland and Sweden from the end of the 1950s until the 1980s. Though drama productions, speech about television, programming guides and TV memories, I am investigating how television worked as a stage for political conflicts and compromises. The aim is to deepen understanding about the relationship between nationality and democracy and the historical similarities and differences between the Finnish and Swedish public spheres.

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Researching nationality involves a struggle with methodological nationalism. How can one produce knowledge about Finland without taking Finland as a given, without already knowing and explaining on the basis of that knowledge? This is a question I return to time and again, as my own research career has revolved around questions of nationality, difference and power. I was studying at a time when Finnish cinema became the subject of academic research. Ari Honka-Hallilan, Kimmo Laineen, Mervi Pantin, Hannu Salmen and I felt a kind of pioneering zeal.

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Between 2002 and 2003 I worked as an acting lecturer of women’s studies at the Christina Institute, and my task, in addition to teaching, was to put together the first women’s studies – later gender studies – master’s programme. After that temporary posting, I remained at the Christina Institute as a postdoctoral researcher, until work led me to Stockholm in 2005.

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