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Virpi Hämeen-Anttila

Virpi Helena Hämeen-Anttila
Born October 15, 1958, Espoo.

Bachelor of Arts, 1987, Master of Arts (South Asian Studies), 1996, University of Helsinki

Author, teacher, researcher, translator
Hourly-paid teacher, University of Helsinki, 1997-.
Project Assistant, Indus seals, documentation and publication, University of Helsinki, 1983-6.
Illustrator (scientific), various publishers incl. Weilin & Göös, Otava, Cambridge University Press, Tiede-lehti.
Translator (of English, French, Sanskrit, Bali, Hindi, Bengali, Tamil), the Finnish Oriental Society, Basam Books, Jalava.
Author (published with Otava, WSOY, Minerva).

Chairperson, Lahti International Writers’ Reunion, 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013.
Chairperson, writers’ division, copyright organisation Sanasto ry, 2012-

Research interests

Sanskrit and South Asian literature, esp. Sanskrit writing from pre-classical and classical period (600 BCE – 1200 CE), its narrative fiction and structures; main publication and (forthcoming) doctoral thesis topic: the origins and development of frame story technique in Sanskrit literature.

Publications, research projects and other academic activity

Awards and special achievements
Eino Leino Prize (for literature), 2002 (with Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila)
Finnish booksellers’ Laila Hirvisaari Prize, 2003
Vuoden tieteentekijän palkinto 2004
Vantaa-palkinto 2009 (with Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila)
Academic of the Year 2004, Finnish Union of University Researchers and Teachers
City of Vantaa Award, 2009 (with Jaakko Hämeen-Anttila)

Photo: Mirva Kakko/Otava
Written by Virpi Hämeen-Anttila (Kaija Hartikainen, toim.)
Translated by John Calton

Researcher and Artist – One for All and All for One

Early on at the University you get used to having only temporary work. During my study years I was too shy and buried in books to join student organisations, but when I stepped out of the University environment to pursue different professions, it began to feel increasingly important to highlight some of the problems related to the careers and social security of those with scientific and artistic occupations. Writing presented the first opportunity to do so.

My debut novel Suden Vuosi ('Year of the wolf'', 2001) was a statement on behalf of the “indolent” University community and the inherent value of research and education. I have discussed these same themes constantly in my writing, columns, and speeches. Writing is still my primary means of having a say in the world, as it comes naturally to me. Writers are often considered to be experts on everything, and it can be easier for them to be heard than a member of the University precariat. I have tried to take advantage of this. By translating Indian texts I have attempted to expand the scope of our literature, which is too often limited to Western writing.

The world of literature is where I believe my influence in society is most acutely felt. I began my involvement with organisations on the board of Helsingin kirjailijat ('Helsinki authors'). Subsequently I have championed the cause of literature, writers and translators as a lecturer, panelist and an interviewer. In late 2014 I participated in the Make Arts Policy event as part of the Baltic Circle Theatre Festival and the seminars which followed. I have particularly enjoyed serving as the chairman of the Lahti International Writer's Reunion four times in a row in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013, which is the record. The reunion has been an important meeting place between Finnish writers and their colleagues around the world. I am a member of both the Union of Finnish Writers and the Finnish Association of Non-fiction Writers. As a representative of the Union of Finnish Writers I have acted as the chairman of the Finnish copyright society Sanasto since 2012. Knowing about the copyright of literary works, following the relevant legislation, and political lobbying for art are all part of working at Sanasto. I hope it will also stand me in good stead with my future endeavours.

A review of the book "Yön sydän on jäätä" ('The Night Has a Hearth of Ice') in Suomen Kuvalehti.​
A review of the book "Yön sydän on jäätä" ('The Night Has a Hearth of Ice') in Suomen Kuvalehti.​


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