Maarit Leskelä-Kärki profile picture
University Lecturer, History and Archaelogy
Docent, School of History, Culture and Arts Studies
FT, kulttuurihistorian ja elämänkerronnan dosentti (Turun ja Lapin yliopisto)
Vice-Director for SELMA: Research centre for the Study of Storytelling, Experientiality and Memory


+358 29 450 3416
+358 50 328 8582
Arcanuminkuja 1

Areas of expertise

cultural history (1800-1900)
gender history
history of writing
biographical research
autobiographical sources
history of religions


My permanent position at the Department of Cultural History is Senior lecturer. During 2022-2023 I act as the Professor of the cultural history.

I have worked at the Department of Cultural History since 1998, and I have held various positions: lecturer, co-ordinator, PhD scholar, university teacher, senior lecturer). I did my PhD in a project on the cultural history of women’s writing (2001–2005) which was funded by the Academy of Finland, and I defended my thesis Kirjoittaen maailmassa. Krohnin sisaret ja kirjallinen elämä (The Krohn sisters: Lives in Writing) in 2006. During my doctoral studies, I also worked as a visiting researcher at Liverpool John Moores University. In 2009–2012, I worked as a postdoctoral scholar at the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies. Since 2013, I have worked as Senior Lecturer at the Department. I have also been the vice director of SELMA: Centre for the Study of Storytelling, Experientiality and Memory since 2015.

I am also the chair of the Finnish Historical Society (2020–2021) and the chief editor of the National Biography of Finland (2020-2022). I am also a member of the curating team at Aboagora - between Arts and Sciences. Outside academia, I am one of the founding members of the literary society of Aino Kallas, and I am currently acting as the chair of the society.


I teach courses from BA level to PhD level, and I am currently responsible for MA studies, MA seminar, and supervising MA students. I am also part of the supervisor team for doctoral studies together with the professors, and supervise PhD-students in the field of cultural history, both at the University of Turku and in Tampere. I have been leading the research group Gender, Textuality and Writing together with Kirsi Tuohela since 2009. In connection to SELMA I arrange special courses and organise seminars and events.


My research is focused on the cultural history of the 19th and 20th centuries, gender history, history of writing and literature, biographical research, and life writing studies. Another important research field is the history of religiousness and esotericism. I am currently leading a research project funded by the Kone foundation called Seekers of the New: Esotericism and the transformation of religiosity in Finland during the era of modernisation, 1880–1940(2018–2020). In 2020 I published an extensive edited anthology on the uses of diary material in historical research (Päiväkirjojen jäljillä. Historiantutkimus ja omasta elämästä kirjoittaminen). I have published several biographical books, eg. on Helmi Krohn (2021) and Tove Jansson (Autumn 2022).

I have published numerous articles in anthologies and journals (eg. Historiallinen aikakauskirja, NORA, Qualitative Research, Biography) and I am part of the editorial team of European Journal for Life-Writing.

I am also active in international life writing studies network IABA ( International ASsociation for Biography and Autobiography), and was the main organiser of the the 2022 IABA-World conference in Turku in June 2022.

From August 2022 I am also part of the research project Disappeared, Endangered and Newly Arrived Species: The Human Relationship with the Changing Biodiversity of the Baltic Sea (HumBio)


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