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Kirsi Saarikangas

Kirsi Anneli Saarikangas
Born March 9, 1960, Helsinki

Master of Arts 1987 and PhD 1993 (art history), University of Helsinki

Professor of art history, University of Helsinki 2010–
Director of the research project Nature in Arts, Culture, and History 2014–18
Director of the doctoral programme for History and Cultural Heritage 2014–
Vice-dean of the Faculty of Arts (teaching) 2010–13
Director of the national doctoral programme for women’s studies 2007–11
Professor of women’s studies (acting) 1994–95 and 2003–09
Director of the Kristiina Institute 2003–09
Academy of Finland senior research fellow 2001-03

Research themes: Gender and space, suburbs and modern architecture, urban nature, and the relationship between residents and the built and natural environment.

Awards and special achievements
Member of the Teachers’ Academy 2015–
State Award for Public Information 2006 (editorial board of Suomen kulttuurihistoria 1–5 (‘Finnish cultural history 1-5’))
Finnish Academy of Science and Letters scholarship for an outstanding doctoral dissertation 1994

Photo: Veikko Somerpuro
Written by Kirsi Saarikangas and Suvi Uotinen
Translated by Matthew Billington

Between academic disciplines and at their intersection

Doctoral programme directors Tuija Pulkkinen (left), Kirsi Saarikangas and Jan-Ola Östman. Photo: Mika Federley.

In my research I have always moved between and at the interface of academic disciplines. In my doctoral dissertation, Model Houses for Model Families, I investigated conceptions of a good family house and assumptions about its residents in the planning and spatial organisation of type-planned detached houses for families of soldiers who fought on the frontline in World War II. This was done by combining theories of gender and special analysis with the history of architecture. I had the pleasure and good fortune to write my doctoral dissertation as part of research groups led by the supervisor of my dissertation, Riitta Nikula. I have turned my attention from a dwelling’s spatial organisation or layout to investigating the relationship between spaces and residents, the meanings of home, lived, multisensorial suburban space, and nature in the city. After completing my PhD, in the mid-1990s I also worked as a researcher in a Nordic project investigating 20th century architecture and design. After that, I have led several multidisciplinary research groups, where I have enjoyed the joint activity, insights and collective creativity that they have offered. It is exciting, challenging and rewarding to conduct research as part of a multidisciplinary group, as each group member’s expertise complements that of the others and also challenges one’s own conceptions and assumptions. After my PhD, pondering the relationship between space and gender led me, for many years, away from art history to the multidisciplinary teaching and research community at the Christina Institute. In addition to my own research, I have particularly immersed myself in multidisciplinary teaching and graduate education. I was instrumental in starting the first national gender system doctoral programme (1995–98), later the National Doctoral Programme for Women’s Studies.

At present I am working as the director of the University of Helsinki’s multidisciplinary Doctoral Programme for History and Cultural Heritage. Part of the work includes a workshop to kick-start doctoral dissertations and a summer school. We have arranged a seminar on academic writing together with the Finnish Literature Society, and we are presently working in cooperation the Ateneum Art Museum on an event concerning PhD graduates as employees in the field of culture.

Kirsi Saarikangas among museum directors at an art history alumni evening on June 3, 2015. In the photo from the left, Tiina Merisalo (Helsinki City Museum), Kai Kartio (Amos Anderson Art Museum), Kirsi Saarikangas and Maija Tanninen-Mattila (HAM, Helsinki City Art Museum).

Research projects

Representing and sensing nature, landscape and gender (Academy of Finland 2007–11)

Gendering Power and Agency (Academy of Finland and the Emil Aaltonen Foundation 1996–99)

A doctoral researcher in the Academy of Finland projects Nainen, taide, historia (‘The woman, art, history,’ 1987–90) and Arjen taidehistoria (‘everyday art history,’ 1991-93), led by Riitta Nikula

Researcher in the NOS-H project Arkitektur och design inom Norden efter 1900 (‘Architecture and design in the Nordic countries after 1900,’ 1995–96), led by Jørgen Sestoft.


Activity in scholarly organisations

AIOFE, Association of Institutions for Feminist Education and Research in Europe, president 2006–09

Board member of At Gender 2009–11

President of the Hilma network 2004–09

Member of the Finnish Advisory Board on Research Integrity (TENK) 2013–16

Towards AtGender. Women’s World, Madrid July 3, 2008. From the left, Berte Waaldjik (Athena), Kirsi Saarikangas (Aoife) and Susana Elisa Pavlou (Wise). Photo: Aino-Maija Hiltunen.


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