Go Back

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

Environmental research in the humanities

At present I am researching the relationship between citizens and the built and natural environment. I am investigating suburban spaces in the Helsinki metropolitan area in the 1950s­–1970s by analysing both this relationship and suburbs as multisensorially significant, sedimented, lived environments. In the study I connect suburban planning and writing and the perspectives of residents. Second, I am investigating urban nature, the place of nature in urban planning and building, and the significance of nature in city dwelling in new urban districts constructed from the 1980s onwards in Helsinki, Stockholm and New York. I am particularly interested in the role and relationship of planned and unplanned elements of urban spaces, architecture, landscaped green areas and ambiguous features of urban nature, such as wasteland, in the moulding of the historically, aesthetically and experientially sedimented environment.

The studies are part of an interdisciplinary project I am leading, funded by the Academy of Finland, called Nature in Arts, Culture, and History. Temporal Sedimentations of Landscape and the Diversity of Nature.

In the project we are investigating the interaction between natural and cultural elements and processes in shaping the environment through two scenic extremes – urban nature and wilderness. Both are to be understood as spatially and temporally sedimented hybrids of human and non-human factors and processes. Our project, which emphasises environmental research in the humanities (archaeology, aesthetics, art- and environmental history), is engaged in active dialogue with scholars in the natural sciences and particularly with urban ecologists. We were involved as planners and participants in the symposium Urban Nature, held in October 2015 in New York and arranged by the Finnish Cultural Institute of New York and The New School. It was wonderful to collaborate once more with my close colleague from my Christina Institute days, Leena-Maija Rossi, Executive Director of the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York.

Urban researcher cycling on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York, October 24, 2015. Photo Tuomas Lehtonen.


Go Back