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Katarina Koskiranta

Salli Katarina Koskiranta
Born January 23, 1962

Master of Arts (Finno-Ugrian Ethnology), University of Helsinki

Amanuensis, Ethnology and Folkoristics, University of Helsinki, 2010-

Amanuensis, Ethnology, 2004–2010, Folkloristics, 2004 and Finnish Literature, 1997–2004
Assistant, Department of Ethnology, 1992-1993, Hourly-paid Teacher, 1991–1998 and 2001–2004
Office Secretary, Department of Ethnology, University of Helsinki, 1990–1991
Research Assistant/Researcher, Workers’ culture project, National Board of Antiquities, 1989–1990 and 1994–1995

Photo: Mika Federley
Written by Katarina Koskiranta (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta, ed.)
Translated by John Calton

Back to the University via the National Board of Antiquities

After my school-leaving examinations I decided to have a gap year. Over the summer months I worked in camping site and in the autumn got to work in a pet shop. I knew that I would apply for a place to study culture, with ethnology as my main subject, and that’s why my dear schoolmates gave me the entrance exam book for my birthday. In the spring I took a few months’ break to bone up on the books, although in fact I went hitchhiking around Finland to various music festivals and gigs for some of the time.

During my studies I worked in all sorts of places: cafeterias, restaurants, camping sites, pet shops, but for some reason I avoided work connected to my own subject. I got my first salary from the University in 1979, as a cleaner. The work shifts of cleaners who were on sick leave was offered on a part-time basis to students. After lectures it was easy to stay on a few hours and in general the work was done in pairs, with little fuss.

In the spring of 1987, the then Department Assistant, Hanna Snellman, drew my attention to a project that was just starting at the National Board of Antiquities. The ‘workers’ culture project’ was looking for ethnologists and would I be interested. I was still doubtful if I would ever become a museum person, but Snellman thought otherwise, put a coin in the slot, and held the door of the phone box ajar to be sure that I would register my interest. I got the job and for the next few years I worked as a research assistant on various projects in the National Board.

Another job came up in the National Board in the mid-1990s, this time the focus was on the country’s metalworkers. It was part of a Nordic project, with the Finnish part to be conducted by the Board and the Metalworkers’ Union, with material to be collected by means of a writing competition. My job was to edit a book based on the material, which was subsequently published in the National Board of Antiquity’s series under the title Sielu metallin sukua (‘The metalworker’s soul’).

From the beginning of the 1990s I was on the new side of the Main Building, filling in for various colleagues in a range of subjects, both as office secretary and amanuensis. I got the job of academic assistant for one term after graduating with my Master’s.

After the Master’s, I enrolled as a postgrad because it seemed a logical move and I wanted to continue research on the topic of my Master’s dissertation, namely Finnish working-class tourism in the period 1930-60. I applied for funding from the Cultural Foundation and got it on two occasions to work on my licentiate degree, the precursor to a doctorate. But back then the daily life of a postgrad was a truly solitary slog. The highlights for me were the Nordic graduate school seminars in Uppsala, the Finnish economic history society’s seminar in Lammi, some 80 miles north of Helsinki, and an article in the journal Ethnologia Scandinavica.



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