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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

Eye-opening excursions

With Katariina Mustakallio on the way to a Bruce Springsteen concert at the Ullevi Stadium in Gothenburg June 8, 1985. Photo: Tuomas Lehtonen.

One of Kirsi Saarikangas’s best memories is when she enrolled to study at the University of Helsinki.

“It opened up an incredible world. I was able to learn about the things that interested me. At school I didn’t even know it was possible to study such subjects.”

Saarikangas began as a student of Finnish literature, but she soon changed her major to art history. She also studied general history, sociology and theoretical philosophy as extended minor subjects.

Practical courses based on reading and writing about Finnish literature obliged students to read and write every week from the very first autumn. A particularly memorable event was Marja-Liisa Nevala’s (nee Kunnas) practical course on lyrical poetry.

“Towards the end of my studies both women’s studies and French poststructuralist theories came thundering into the Finnish debate. I participated in Matti Viikari’s reading group on the history of ideas and became acquainted, among other things, with the writings of Michel Foucault. Päivi Setälä brought some books back from the USA on gender history, and we learnt to write “papers.”

Kirsi Saarikangas regrets that there were no official student exchanges during her study years. Nevertheless, she discovered the world through numerous excursions.

Of these trips, a three-week excursion to New York in 1984 was unforgettable. The trip was long in planning. Funds were raised through such activities as running a café in the Athenium Art Museum during the Ars83 exhibition.

“The trip to New York was such a great experience that I remember it to this day.”

On the terrace of the Villa Lante (Kirsi Saarikangas on the right of the picture) before the start of a course on the Baroque period at the end of March 1986.

A trip to the French city of Toulouse was also an experience. In April 1986, there was a course on the Baroque period led by Henrik Lilius at the Villa Lante in Rome. In 1988, in the heat of August, Saarikangas participated in an excavation in Cerveteri’s Etruscan area, in Lazio, Italy, as a part of a Ministry of Education cultural exchange. The summer routine of a member of the Inter Rail generation also included summer jobs and train journeys in Europe. Saarikangas was also active in Kronos, the association of history students at the University of Helsinki and Eidos, the association of students of art history. Special memories from her student days also include participation in the making of the film The Heimola Story (1984), directed by Ilari and Markus Nummi.

A break from filming the The Heimola Story (1984) February 1984. Director and cameraman Ilari Nummi (left), producer Anu Sallinen, director Markus Nummi, Päivi Pakkanen (Kyllikki Kaunonen), Dolf Assman (Väinö Vähä-älli), Kirsi Saarikangas (Vieno Vähä-älli) and Eva Packalén (Virve Vähä-älli). Photo: Tuomas Lehtonen.


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