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Markku Henriksson

Markku Ilmari Henriksson
Born September 4, 1949, Helsinki

Bachelor of Social Sciences, Master of Social Sciences (political history) 1973, Licentiate 1985, PhD 1988, University of Helsinki

Professor of American studies, University of Helsinki, Renvall Institute (now the Department of World Cultures), acting professor 1996–99 and professor 1999–2004
History lecturer 1990–99, Department of History, University of Tampere
Deputy director 1990–92, Revall Institute, University of Helsinki
Research assistant of non-European history (for several separate periods) 1975–90, Institute for Historical Research and Documentation (later the Renvall Institute)

Publication activities

Awards and honours
D.Litt. (hon), York University, Toronto, 1995
First Class Knight of the White Rose of Finland 2004
Honorary member of the Western History Association (the first outside the US)
American Indian History Lifetime Achievement Award 2013 (the first and to date the only outside North America)
University of Helsinki Badge of Honour for long service 2013
University of Helsinki medal 2014
The International Council for Canadian Studies Certificate of Merit, 2014

Written by Olli Siitonen
Translated by Matthew Billington

Aviation Professorship

The professorship of American Studies that Markku Henriksson held at the Renvall Institute, Faculty of Arts was named after the McDonnell Douglas aerospace company. The story behind the professorship is connected to the conditions of the sale of Hornet jets to Finland in the 1990s. The United States was required to purchase products from Finland as part of the deal.

“When desirable goods did not seem to be available, it was suggested that McDonnell Douglas establish a scholarship, a sort of expansion to the Fulbright Center. McDonnell Douglas contacted the Finnish Embassy in Washington, who then recommended the unit focusing on North American Studies at the Renvall Institute. When the donation was made, the representative of the company mentioned nothing of the jet deal and instead emphasised that it was based on the long collaboration between McDonnell Douglas and Finnair.”

The process was still ongoing when McDonnell Douglas was acquired by Boeing, and the acquisition also brought some additional drama to the donation negotiations. The deal was ultimately signed only a few hours before McDonnell Douglas and all its contracts ceased to exist. When the acquisition took place, Boeing agreed to honour all previous contracts by McDonnell Douglas and therefore it was not necessary to reopen the negotiations for the professorship.

Henriksson says that Boeing was interested in his work, but allowed the research to go on without interference. The professorship established at the University of Helsinki also deviated from other posts that were named after the aviation company.

“They left the expertise to us and only took care of the funding. As I understand it, it is the only professorship carrying the name of McDonnell Douglas that is not related to aviation or space technology.”

Professor Henriksson’s farewell lecture in 2014.


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