Author: Sinikka Koskinen

Aamu Nyström: I.K. Inha – Valokuvaaja, kirjailija, kulttuurin löytöretkeilijä [I.K. Inha – Photographer, writer, cultural explorer]

3 August 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

I.K. Inha – Valokuvaaja, kirjailija, kulttuurin löytöretkeilijä
[I.K. Inha – Photographer, writer, cultural explorer]
Jyväskylä: Minerva, 2011. 271 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-492-441-2
€ 31, hardback

I.K. Inha (1865–1930) was a photographer, a writer, a translator and a journalist. He is known particularly for his photographic journeys in Finland and Russian Karelia. Both the texts and the photographs in Inha’s landscape and nature works are of a high aesthetic standard. This book focuses on Inha’s lesser-known works and the various phases of his life. Inha’s travel diary documents the cycle journey he made as a student in 1886 to Germany and Switzerland. In 1897 Inha was appointed Finland’s first-ever foreign correspondent; from Athens he reported on events such as the Greco-Turkish War. In 1899 and 1901 Inha was posted to England, where he observed Queen Victoria’s funeral and the coronation of King Edward VII. Aamu Nyström, the niece of Inha’s brother, has had access to letters, photographs and written and oral recollections of family members.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

Timo Kalevi Forss & Martti Lintunen: Karjala edestakaisin [Karelia back and forth]

3 August 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Karjala edestakaisin
[Karelia back and forth]
Teksti [Text by]: Timo Kalevi Forss
Kuvat [Photographs by]: Martti Lintunen
Helsinki: Like Kustannus, 2010. 164 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-01-0504-4
€ 29, paperback

At the end of the Continuation War (1941–44), some 400,000 Karelians were forced to abandon their homes. They were resettled in various parts of Finland, and nowadays around a fifth of Finns have some Karelian heritage. Through interviews with fifteen people living in the modern-day region of Karelia, this book documents the part of Karelia that was ceded to the Soviet Union. The researchers travelled to Vyborg, Sortavala, Priozersk, and the Valaam Monastery. The interviewees include a construction company owner building a house on an old Finnish stone foundation, a rock music club owner from Vyborg and a colonel who served in the counter-terrorism division of the Russian army. The photographs convey the range of buildings in Karelia, from Finnish houses to traditional Karelian homesteads, from mansions of the nouveaux riches to Soviet-era tower blocks. In the idyllic villages around Lake Ladoga, cows graze near small houses; time seems to have been frozen around the turn of the last century. The long sandy beaches of the spa towns on the shores of the Gulf of Finland are now filled with tourists from St Petersburg.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

Tiia Aarnipuu: Jonkun on uskallettava katsoa. Animalian puoli vuosisataa [Someone’s got to dare to look. Half a century of Animalia]

28 July 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Jonkun on uskallettava katsoa. Animalian puoli vuosisataa
[Someone’s got to dare to look. Half a century of Animalia]
Helsinki: Like Kustannus, 2011. 209 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-01-0582-2
€ 33, paperback

This book has been published to mark the 50th anniversary of Animalia, the Federation for the Protection of Animals. The public image of the organisation has varied between one of a conservative club of ladies and gentlemen and that of a radical terrorist group. Animalia was founded in 1961, inspired by Johan Börtz, a Swede who gave lectures on the plight of animals used in experiments. Animalia began making visits to inspect animal testing facilities, which were completely unregulated in the early 1960s. Gradually the animal rights movement became more radicalised, somewhat later than in places such as Britain. Animal rights became a subject of wider debate in Finland in the 1980s. In the 1990s, the organisation was falsely linked with attacks made on fur farms by direct-action youth groups. Animalia’s stance has been to renounce vandalism and violence. In February 2010 Animalia launched its largest-ever information campaign, aimed at ridding Finland of fur farms by 2025.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

Johanna Ilmakunnas: Kapiot, kartanot, rykmentit. Erään aatelissuvun elämäntapa 1700-luvun Ruotsissa [Trousseaus, manors, regiments. The lifestyle of one noble house in 18th-century Sweden]

28 July 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Kapiot, kartanot, rykmentit. Erään aatelissuvun elämäntapa 1700-luvun Ruotsissa
[Trousseaus, manors, regiments. The lifestyle of one noble house in 18th-century Sweden]
Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2011. 524 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-222-264-0
€ 38, hardback

This book deals with the lifestyles, finances and consumption habits of the high nobility of Sweden in the 18th century (which included Finland at that time). The central figure is Count Axel von Fersen (1719–1794), a very influential statesman and soldier, and his German-Baltic lineage. This portrait broadens into a lifestyle study, providing extensive information on the customs and the world of the nobility of that era, such as the institution of marriage, child-rearing, mistresses, clothing and interior decor – as indicators of one’s social status – artistic activities, games and gastronomy. The topic of consumption is linked to social, cultural, ideological and legal perspectives. In the lives of the high nobility, money – or lack thereof – was not a defining feature; rather, choices were governed by ideals, values and obligations such as honour, reputation, faith and origin. Johanna Ilmakunnas is a historical researcher and editor. This book is based on her award-winning doctoral thesis (2009).
Translated by Ruth Urbom

Päivi Jantunen: Kaj & Franck. Esineitä ja lähikuvia / Designs & Impressions

6 July 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Kaj & Franck. Esineitä ja lähikuvia. / Designs & Impressions
English translations: Peter Herring and Esa Lehtinen
Helsinki: WSOY, 2011. 166 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-0-36898-5
€ 42, hardback

This dual-language book showcases the work of one of Finland’s most widely known glass and ceramic designers in his centenary year. The unaffected designs and clean geometric shapes of the tableware designed by Kaj Franck (1911–1989) are well suited to a wide range of cultures. Franck’s guiding principle was to create anonymous, self-evident objects for everyday use. In the 1940s and 1950s, Franck updated tableware to match post-war changes in society; he wanted to get away from the sets of crockery that filled up smaller kitchen cupboards. His designs that emphasised environmental principles and equality were ahead of their time with their ideology of sustainable development. This book portrays Franck’s life and career, which centred on the oldest glassworks in Finland in the community of Nuutajärvi, where he worked from the early 1950s until his death. Interviews with local residents and Franck’s colleagues create a portrait of him as a colourful personality. Ample illustrations provide a cross-section of Franck’s design output. In addition to his mass-produced items, there are photos of Franck’s one-off artistic creations.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

Vesa Puuronen: Rasistinen Suomi [Racist Finland]

6 July 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Rasistinen Suomi
[Racist Finland]
Helsinki: Gaudeamus, 2011. 286 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-495-196-8
€ 36, paperback

Multiculturalism, immigration and racism have become more frequent subjects of discussion in Finland, particularly as a result of the 2008 local elections and the subsequent speeches and writings by people critical of immigration. This book aims to move the discussion forward by describing and defining racism, presenting developments in research into racism, racism perpetrated by Finns against Sámi and Russians, and the history of Finnish enmity towards Russians from the early 20th century to the present day. The author considers the use of shaming and subjugation as tools of exterminating Sámi culture, as well as linguistic discrimination and denial of land ownership rights against the Sámi. The book also examines the development of hate crimes since the 1990s, racism in Finnish politics and the politics of multiculturalism as practised in Finland, which studies have shown treat different minority groups in different ways. Vesa Puuronen is a sociologist and a researcher into racism who works at the University of Eastern Finland.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

Saamentutkimus tänään [Sámi research today]

30 June 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Saamentutkimus tänään
[Sámi research today]
Toimittaneet [Edited by] Irja Seurujärvi-Kari, Petri Halinen & Risto Pulkkinen
Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura (SKS), 2011. 449 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-222-220-6
€ 28, paperback

This volume examines the Sámi people, the only indigenous tribe living in the European Union, via writers representing fourteen different fields of research. It is an updated and expanded edition of Johdatus Saamentutkimukseen (‘An introduction to Sámi research’, 1995) and makes use of The Saami. A Cultural Encyclopaedia (SKS, 2005). This book defines what is meant by the terms ‘indigenous tribe’ and ‘Sámi’, as well as describing the Sámi people’s biological and geographical environment, their prehistory and history and a linguistic and genetic outline. It also deals with their spiritual and material culture, from folk beliefs to handicrafts and arts, as well as reindeer herding. The status of the Sámi people is examined with regard to human rights and land ownership rights and compared to the situation of other indigenous tribes. Currently between 70,000 and 82,000 Sámi live in Finland, Sweden, Norway and Russia, with around 10,000 of them in Finland. The Sámi population in Finland has remained constant for the past 15 years, but as many as 60 per cent of them now live outside the traditional Sámi homelands.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

Juhani Koivisto: Suurten tunteiden talo. Kohtauksia Kansallisoopperan vuosisadalta [The house of great emotions. Scenes from a century of the Finnish National Opera]

30 June 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Suurten tunteiden talo. Kohtauksia Kansallisoopperan vuosisadalta
[The house of great emotions. Scenes from a century of the Finnish National Opera]
Helsinki: WSOY, 2011. 229 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-0-37667-6
€ 45, paperback

2011 marks the one-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Finnish National Opera. This richly illustrated and entertaining book describes events that have been absent from previous ‘official’ historical accounts. Readers will encounter over a hundred opera denizens who have made audiences – and, according to many anecdotes, each other – laugh and cry. The initial stages of the opera and ballet were modest in scope when viewed from outside, but the trailblazers involved were tremendous talents and personalities. The brighest star was the singer Aino Ackté, who enjoyed an international reputation. Gossip about intrigues and artistic differences at the opera house over the decades is confirmed in candid interviews with performers. The content of the book is based on archival sources, letters, memoirs, interviews and stories told inside the opera house. Juhani Koivisto, the Opera’s chief dramaturge, clearly has an excellent inside knowledge of his subject. Translated by Ruth Urbom

Kristiina Kalleinen: Kansallisen tieteen ja taiteen puolesta. Kalevalaseura 1911–2011 [On behalf of national science and art. The Kalevala Society 1911–2011]

10 June 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Kansallisen tieteen ja taiteen puolesta. Kalevalaseura 1911–2011
[On behalf of national science and art. The Kalevala Society 1911–2011]
Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2011. 314 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-223-256-5
€ 37, hardback

In 1911, the Finnish national epic Kalevala (1835, 1849), compiled by Elias Lönnrot and based on Finnish folk poetry, inspired the artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela, the sculptor Alpo Sailo, Professor E.N. Setälä and the folklorist Väinö Salminen to found the Kalevala Society (established in 1919), aimed at uniting Finland’s national science and art into a harmonious whole. As Russia tightened its grip on the Grand Duchy during the latter part of the nineteenth century, it awakened a desire to demonstrate the vitality of the Finnish language and national spirit. This book maps out the effect of the changing social and political situation on the Society’s activities. In the 1920s and 1930s the Kalevala Society remained largely outside the political and linguistic conflicts of the time. This was a period of extreme Finnish nationalism, but in the Society there was little inclination towards ‘Greater Finland’ thinking or anti-Russian or anti-Swedish sentiment. During Finland’s wars with the Soviet Union some members nonetheless had hopes of a Greater Finland, as many of the regions where the Kalevala poems originated lay on the Soviet side of the border. In recent years the Society has participated with other organisations in projects devoted to the regeneration of Russian Karelian villages and the protection of the last traditional Finnish landscapes.

Translated by David McDuff

Språk och politisk mobilisering. Finlandssvenskar i publikdemokrati [Language and political mobilisation. Finland-Swedes in public democracy]

10 June 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Språk och politisk mobilisering. Finlandssvenskar i publikdemokrati
[Language and political mobilisation. Finland-Swedes in public democracy]
Red. [in Swedish; ed. by] Kimmo Grönlund
Helsingfors: Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland (The Society of Swedish Literature in Finland), 2011. 236 p.
ISBN 978-951-583-224-5
€ 29, paperback

Under the Finnish Constitution, Finnish and Swedish are the country’s national languages. The status of Swedish is currently the subject of debate: on the one hand there is concern about the adequacy of Swedish-language services, while on the other there is a strong opposition among the Finnish-speaking majority to the mandatory study of Swedish. This book discusses, for example, the basis on which Finland’s 5.5 per cent Swedish-speaking minority elects its party and its candidates in national elections, and the importance of the Swedish language in this choice. Research suggests that Svenska Folkpartiet, the Swedish People’s Party, would gain increased backing if it were to emphasise the language question and seeking support for Swedish-speaking districts, rather than by targeting Finnish-speakers and bilingual citizens with an interest in minority issues. The book also contains a summary of the results of the Svensk politik i Finland (Politics in Swedish-speaking Finland) research project; Kimmo Grönlund – also director of research at Åbo Akademi – was head of the project.
Translated by David McDuff

Kirjallinen kulttuuri keskiajan Suomessa [Literary culture in medieval Finland]

1 June 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Kirjallinen kulttuuri keskiajan Suomessa
[Literary culture in medieval Finland]
Toim. [Ed. by] Tuomas Heikkilä
Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2010. 480 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-212-223-7
€ 36, hardback

The literary material from Finland’s medieval period is both more extensive and more interesting than previously thought. A team of scholars has gone through almost all of the material that survives, from the eleventh to the sixteenth century: missals, merchants’ correspondence, vernacular writings and state papers. Literary culture arrived in Finland with Christianity. During the Middle Ages the language of theologians and scholars on Finnish territory was Latin, the principal language of trade was Low German, and affairs of state were conducted in Swedish. This book examines how, when and where the texts were written and what their distribution says about Finnish literary tastes of earliest times. The scholars have done detective work, tracing and connecting parchment missals which ended up as the bindings of bailiffs’ ledgers. The book takes as its main source the National Library’s Fragmenta Membranea, one of the world’s largest collections of medieval parchment fragments. It is planned to digitise the collection and make the fragments freely accessible to both scholars and the general public.
Translated by David McDuff


Heikki Hiilamo: Uusi hyvinvointivaltio [The new welfare state]

1 June 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Uusi hyvinvointivaltio
[The new welfare state]
Helsinki: Like Publishing, 2011. 131 p.
ISBN 978-952-01-0615-7
€ 17, paperback

There is concern in Finland about the decline of the Nordic welfare state and the return of a class society. Problems exist with regard to issues such as the country’s aging population, changes in the structure of the labour market, the increase in income disparity, and lifestyle issues. The impoverishment caused by the recession of the 1990s did not decrease in the early 2000s, as could be seen in things like the rise of bread lines, much debated by Finns. The author – an expert on the welfare state and a poverty researcher – examines the values of the good society and its institutions. He discusses welfare as the politics of social possibilities: ‘The current system does not sufficiently allow the individual to come up with his own initiatives for positive change – instead, it fetters those initiatives.’ Hiilamo’s campaining book reflects on how the welfare state could be developed twenty years after the recession crisis, and how the middle class might be brought to realise that the growth in income disparity also affects their own welfare.
Translated by David McDuff


Kari Kuula: Paholaisen biografia [The biography of the Devil]

13 May 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Paholaisen biografia. Pahan olemus, historia ja tulevaisuus
[The biography of the Devil. The essence of evil, history and future]
Helsinki, Kirjapaja, 2010. 381 p.
ISBN 978-951-607-837-6
€ 38, hardback

This book is a chronological study of the Devil, seen through the history of ideas and cultural history. As the Devil is mainly a concept in Christian theology, the most profound studies of his essence have been carried out by experts of this field. The book also studies the Devil’s ‘disciples’, demons, and beliefs related to them. The main theme of the work consists of the history of diabology and demonology, from the Old Testament to contemporary theology. Another central theme is the theological dilemma of why God allows evil and suffering. In the cultural history section the author concentrates on the practical implications of belief in the Devil in different ages as well as parallel phenomena such as possession and belief in witchcraft. Folk tales about the Devil and descriptions of his putative looks as well as some classic works of fiction featuring the Devil are discussed. Kari Kuula is doctor of theology and priest who has published several non-fiction books on the Bible and Christianity.

Kvinnornas Helsingfors: en kulturhistorisk guide [Women’s Helsinki: a culture-historical guidebook]

6 May 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Kvinnornas Helsingfors: en kulturhistorisk guide
[Women’s Helsinki: a cultural-historical guidebook]
Red. [Ed. by] Anna Biström, Rita Paqvalén, Hedvig Rask
Helsingfors: Schildts, 2010. 251 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-50-2007-9
Finnish-language edition: Naisten Helsinki: kulttuurihistoriallinen opas
ISBN 978-951-50-1994-3
€ 34, paperback

A group comprising fourteen women has addressed the question of what the map of Helsinki would look like seen through women’s history: what are the most significant places and monuments; what traces of women’s history could one read in the fabric of the city? This book portrays various eras in the city’s history from the 16th century onwards, along with profiles of female pioneers in fields from architecture to parliamentarians, from early political activists to present-day squatters. Helsinki has often been called ‘the city of women’ due to the large influx of women who came to work in the Finnish capital, particularly in the early 20th century – the increase in the number of office girls even boosted the publishing and film industries. In his Finnish letters written in the 1890s, Spanish author and diplomat Ángel Ganivet expressed his horror at the bicycling women of Helsinki. This book also includes pieces written by prominent contemporary women, from Finnish President Tarja Halonen to author Pirkko Saisio.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

Sodan kasvattamat [Brought up by war]

6 May 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Sodan kasvattamat
[Brought up by war]
Toimittaneet [Ed. by]: Sari Näre, Jenni Kirves and Juha Siltala
Helsinki: WSOY, 2010. 464 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-0-36733-9
€ 34, hardback

This volume is a collection of personal historical accounts relating to child-rearing and youth during the Finnish Winter and Continuation Wars (1939–1944). In the war years, 60,000 children were orphaned and nearly 80,000 were evacuated abroad, mainly to Sweden; in relative terms, this was a greater proportion of the nation’s children than were similarly affected anywhere else in the world. Some 150,000 children lost their homes in bombing raids or in the Finnish evacuation from the region of Karelia. Finland’s agrarian society taught these children to be obedient and to get by without assistance from adults. The Finnish civil war of 1918 had its effects as well: people did not talk much about their emotions. In circumstances where disciplined sacrifice was emphasised, young people found solace in games, sport and working. Researcher Ville Kivimäki speculates that the widespread experience of an unprotected childhood may have led, at least in part, to Finland’s establishing a social welfare state after the Second World War, as a kind of compensation. The material draws on earlier research, archived personal accounts and memoirs as well as numerous new in-depth interviews.
Translated by Ruth Urbom