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Iris Schwanck

Iris Miette Schwanck
Born February 2, 1950, Geneva

MA 1977 (Romance Philology), University of Jyväskylä
PhD 1994 (Romance Philology), University of Helsinki
Thesis La petite aventure dont le lecteur se souvient peut-être. Analyse linguistique des instrusions du narrateur dans huit romans (‘The little adventure which the reader may remember: A linguistic analysis of narrator intrusions in eight novels’)

Director of the Finnish Literature Exchange (FILI), Finnish Literature Society, 2001–2015
Director of the Finnish Institute in France 1999–2001
Assistant director of the Centre for International Mobility (CIMO) 1995–1999
Coordinator of international affairs at the University of Helsinki 1990–1995
Assistant in Romance Philology at the University of Helsinki and the University of Jyväskylä 1981–1990
Study trips to Uppsala (The Nordic Africa Institute), Paris (Paris West University Nanterre La Défense) and Brussels (Université libre de Bruxelles)
Publications: articles on 19th century French literature, French-African literature, the internationalization of universities and the exportation of Finnish literature.

Prizes and Special Achievements
President and member of the board at the European Association for International Education (EAIE) 1998–1999
Chair of the Lahti International Writers’ Reunion 2001
Alumnus of the University of Jyväskylä 2002
Comic of the Year award 2008
Comic special recognition award 2014
Knight in the Legion of Honour 2010
Knight of the White Rose of Finland 2005
High commissioner of the Finnish Cultural Exchange Season in France 2005–2008
Head coordinator of the Nordic theme project in the Paris Book Fair 2011
Project Director of Finland. Cool. at the 2014 Frankfurt Book Fair 2011–2014
Chair of the Finlandia Prize jury 2015

Photo: Heli Sorjonen
Written by Iris Schwanck (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by
Joe McVeigh

A culture of international dimensions – 100% Finlande

The importance of culture to the GDPs of European countries is very significant. This fact is unfortunately not considered enough to be brought up, nor does it seem important to politicians. The significance of culture, or how we are perceived in other countries, is very important. I have been in charge of important Finnish cultural investments in France and Germany and through hands-on work I have seen how much success culture has brought in these cases – in the media as well as in practical cooperation in various cultural fields.

Every year France invites the official departments of a country or two to Paris and other parts of the country to present their culture and current experts in the field. In the spring of 2008 it was Finland’s turn. For the whole spring Paris and many other cities in France were full of modern Finnish culture for a project called 100% Finlande.

The idea was to bring our culture to the forefront through new and emerging genres, circuses, comics, media, dance and many other art forms. Over 500 events were organised in the most prestigious cultural institutions, squares, clubs and everywhere else. The media was closely involved, which resulted in thousands of articles, interviews and reviews.

The most memorable events were the Huutajat (‘Bidders’) concert at the Exit Festival in a Paris suburb, the Tero Saarinen Company’s Mekassa modern dance night in the Théâtre du Châtelet, the week of marketplace events in Paris’s St Sulpice Square presented by the City of Helsinki, the French translation of Nils-Aslak Valkeapää’s trilogy, which was translated straight from the Sami language, and of course the Paris buses that had huge culture banners on their sides!

The result was wide visibility and a public interest in our culture and of Finland in general, as well as an increased cultural cooperation network which continues to bring projects and guests to both countries. The most important thing, however, was to be able to demonstrate our culture’s inherent value, so that the contents of the events above were good for the whole of Finland.

Photo: K. M. Nyman.​
Photo: K. M. Nyman.​


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