American Voices Seminar Brought Together Researchers and Students
The American Voices seminar was organised for the 29th time on 7–8 October 2022. The seminar is a traditional event organised by the North American Studies programme which is coordinated by the Fulbright Finland Foundation, Department of English, and John Morton Center.
The two-day event was opened by Vice Rector Piia Björn, University Lecturer in English Janne Korkka, and Chief Executive Officer of Fulbright Finland Foundation Terhi Mölsä. In his opening speech, Korkka highlighted the importance of the seminar for the collaboration between the University of Turku and the Fulbright Finland Foundation.
“The seminar brings together researchers and students of different fields. Especially after the last few years, we understand even better how important it is to be together,” said Korkka.
The first section of the seminar focused on the history of native American peoples and the importance of being familiar with it. Three visiting researchers and a Master’s degree student approached the topic from different perspectives. Visiting Professor to the University’s Department of Education Samuel Abrams provided some background for the topic:
“It is important to know the history of the native American peoples as it is part of the history of the United States. This history is by no means pretty and, after working for a long time as a history teacher, I can say that these matters are not normally taught at schools.”
Also, Neetika Rastogi, a Master’s degree student in neuroscience, said that there is a great deal of discussion in the United Sates on how history should be taught. For example, marginalised groups have been long ignored in the textbooks.
Later on, Professor of Computer Science Allen Malony discussed the acknowledgement of the native peoples’ territories, which is becoming an increasingly popular method of improving their position in the United States. Professor of Biology David Tallmon, on the other hand, discussed the topic from the perspective of the native peoples in Alaska.
At the end of the discussion, Professor Abrams shared a personal encounter with the Sámi culture.
“I was in Anchorage discussing Finnish education. After my speech, I was asked to visit western Alaska. At Napaskiak, I asked the pupils what was the best part of their day and everyone talked about a game they played after school. Afterwards, I discovered that the game was introduced to Alaska in the 1890s when Sheldon Jackson brought Sámi reindeer herders to Alaska. The game I saw was an early version of the Finnish baseball, the national sport of Finland.”