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Janne Saarikivi

Janne Santeri Saarikivi
Born May 29, 1973, Helsinki

Bachelor of Arts 1996, Master of Arts 1998, Licentiate 2003, PhD 2006 (Finno-Ugrian languages), University of Helsinki

Helsinki Collegium research fellow 2014–2017, University of Helsinki
Acting professor of Finno-Ugrian languages 2009–2014
Postdoctoral researcher 2006–2008, University of Helsinki
Researcher 2008, Centre for Advanced Study at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters
Visiting lecturer of Finnish language and culture 2004–2006, University of Tartu
Acting university lecturer (Finno-Ugric studies) 2003–2004, Doctoral student 1999–2003, research assistant and civilian service 1995–1999, University of Helsinki

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Awards and special achievements:
Society for the Study of Finnish Language article prize 2002
Best Doctoral Dissertation Prize 2007
Member of the Young Researcher Society of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters 2009
Member of the editorial boards of several international journals in, inter alia, Russia, Estonia and France

Photo: Eija Saarikivi
Written by Janne Saarikivi (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

My dream

My dream is that here in Finland we would discuss education, diversity of voices, tradition, creativity, and perception, instead of money, optimisation, and innovation. Today independent research is under serious threat. It may even completely disappear from universities. If so, it will live on in private institutions and as a protest movement, an occupation for village idiots. As such this is nothing new in the history of research. In the Middle Ages research flourished in monasteries, in the totalitarian nations of Eastern Europe it flourished in cafés and in writings disseminated hand to hand.

If I were rich enough, I would buy a house near where I live, in Toukola or Kumpula, and turn it into an institution of free research. Its name would be the Academy of Toukola. There would always be soup and beer, and the latest research literature to read. There would be people to hold lectures every night, whether or not any listeners came. The lectures could be on any subject as long as it was absolutely useless: Baltic Finnic loanwords in Komi, the taxonomy of turtles, translating James Joyce into Swahili, and so on. If anybody tried to present anything involving corporate collaboration or innovation they would be laughed out the door.

Sound artist and researcher Dr Taina Riikonen with linguist Dr Janne Saarikivi. Photo: Neea Eloranta / Kone Foundation.

My biggest surprise is that everybody else seems to want the same thing. People are fed up with talk of money, careers, economy, growth percentages, the enterprising export of foil hats to the Far East. When we gave a Course on Useless Knowledge at the university, in which we attempted to gather in one place all the absolutely useless themes of various fields, it ended up being the most popular course I ever did. People do get it. Only the useless is necessary. Only there does it pay to stray where consultants don't roam. If something is favoured by policy makers it doesn't need enthusiasm from the people any longer.

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