Go Back

Juha Janhunen

Juha Antero Janhunen
Born February 12, 1952, Pori

Master of Arts 1976, PhD 1986 (Finno-Ugrian studies), University of Helsinki

Docent in North Asian Studies 1986–94, University of Helsinki
Professor of East Asian Languages and Cultures 1994–, University of Helsinki
Honorary professor at the Inner Mongolia University 1998–
Docent in ethnohistory 2011–, Åbo Akademi University

Research themes:
Comparative linguistics, ethnohistory, field linguistics, endangered languages and their revival

Research projects and working groups:
HALS (Helsinki Area and Language Studies)
Manuscripta Castreaniana (M. A. Castrén’s manuscripts)
Corpus Scriptorum Chitanorum (Khitan language and writing)
UNESCO Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger
ElCat (Endangered Languages Catalogue)
Revitalisation of the Nivkh language on the Amur and on Sakhalin

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Professor E.J. Nyström prize (Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters)
Tuhat Award for high-level publications and exemplary use of the system (University of Helsinki) 2015

Membership of scholarly societies:
Royal Asiatic Society 1986
Finnish Society of Sciences and Letters 2003
Academia Europaea 2008
Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Magyar Tudományos Akadémia) 2013
International Eurasian Academy of Sciences 2015

Photo: Hungarian Academy of Sciences
Written by Juha Janhunen (Kaija Hartikainen, ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

My most challenging task at the University of Helsinki

Perhaps the most challenging task that I have fulfilled at the University of Helsinki was hosting a seminar in August 2011 in connection with the visit of the 14th Dalai Lama. At the time I was the chairman of the Finnish Tibetan Cultural Society, and in that capacity partly responsible for organising the visit. Many public appearances were connected to the visit, but I also wanted the Dalai Lama to appear in an academic environment, as he often does in other countries. It was decided that the topic of the seminar would be conflict resolution, and in addition to the Dalai Lama, a group of international conflict resolution specialists was invited. The event was open only to a select group of around 100 academic guests.

The Dalai Lama’s visit to Helsinki in august 2011. Photo: Pasi Haaranen

According to the Chinese government, the Dalai Lama represents a dangerous brand of nationalism, separatism and religious backwardness. The original purpose of our seminar was to promote dialogue between Tibet and the Chinese government, but China refused to cooperate, so we were only able to hear the Tibetan perspective on the conflict between the two countries. China also reacted on a practical level by attempting through its local embassy to prevent the seminar from taking pace, but luckily the administration at the University of Helsinki, after a slight initial shock, found its courage and allowed the event to proceed. Public protests were avoided, and after the seminar China honoured me by imposing a ban on my entering the country.

Amdo (Northeast Tibet) 2009. Landscape picture, a Tibetan mountain village. Photo: Juha Jantunen


Go Back