American Voices Seminar Explored the Diversity of American Society
​In his keynote speech, Professor Lane Crothers from Illinois State University discussed the authenticity and manipulation of American political discourse.

​This October, the University of Turku hosted the American Voices Seminar for the 23rd time. The event was organised jointly by the North American Studies Programme at the University of Turku and the Fulbright Center Finland, an organisation that aims to expand international collaboration between Finland and North America. The presenters and listeners contemplated the diversity of North American culture through authenticity in politics and performance art amongst other things.

The keynote speaker of the seminar, Professor Lane Crothers from Illinois State University specialises in American Political Culture. His main thesis was clear – American political culture suffers from a crisis of authenticity.

– Many political campaigns are beginning to resemble advertising campaigns, where it isn’t the message, but the means that matter. Looking like you can do something has replaced the fact that you can actually do something, said Crothers, who works as a Fulbright grantee at the University of Helsinki during the academic year 2015–2016.

As the line between the authentic and the manipulated is beginning to blur in the United States, politics is starting to resemble entertainment.

Among the several speakers of Friday afternoon, Heidi Katz (Principia College, IL) reflected on Finland, her home state Vermont and some of the differences between the two. Sol Kim (University of California, CA) gave a talk on the diversity of Californian nature whereas Rebecca Martusewicz (Eastern Michigan University, MI) envisioned a healthier and more sustainable future for the deprived and segregated city of Detroit, which is being revitalised locally through urban farming and public art.

The Grant Period Offers Fresh Perspectives for Scholars

Elizabeth Whitney works as a researcher at the Department of Media Studies at the University of Turku until May 2016.

One of the Fulbright grantees at the University of Turku this academic year is Elizabeth Whitney (Borough of Manhattan College, NY). Whitney’s presentation was based on her own research on queer performance art. Her project Arts Funding, Shared Values and Digital Storytelling: A Comparative Approach Between the United States and Finland is a collaborative effort with local artists.

– The project is about freedom of expression and arts funding in society, says Whitney.

Whitney adds that this was one of the themes that drew her towards the Nordic countries, since funding for performance art is harder to secure in the United States. She is interested in finding out what artistic freedom of expression means to Finnish artists.

– Doing research and teaching in Finland is providing me with a fresh perspective on higher education, and has raised so many important new questions in my work. The Fulbright program offers incredible support through conferences, meetings, a speaker program, and an ongoing accessibility for any questions we might have. I feel incredibly fortunate to be here in this capacity.

Fulbright Program Supports the Internationalisation of Finnish Higher Education Institutions

The Fulbright Center is an organisation that specialises in academic and cultural exchange between Finland and North America. The organisation caters for students, scholars, professionals and experts working with international mobility.

The funding awarded by the Fulbright Center to Finnish and American grantees in scholarships totals over 800,000 euros a year. Today, a growing part of the scholarships of the Fulbright Center is funded in conjunction with private trusts and Finnish higher education institutions. One example is the Fulbright-University of Turku Award, a grant intended for US citizens to work at the University of Turku.

– It is advisable to recommend this and other grants appropriated by the Fulbright Center in a targeted manner to existing partners, since with the Turku-Fulbright Award those who apply to us have a likelier chance of being accepted, reminds International Liaison Officer Kirsi Korpela from the University of Turku.

At the moment, there are also several calls for applications for grant programs targeted at Finnish citizens aiming to study in the United States.


More on the subject:

Additional information on the Fulbright program:

Additional information on Elizabeth Whitney’s project: (under ‘Dear Artists’)


Text, photos and translation: Lassi Yli-Muilu

Published date 10/23/2015 9:15 AM ,  Modified date 10/23/2015 9:25 AM

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