Olli Kleemola profile picture
Docent, Department of Philosophy, Political Science and Contemporary History
Contemporary History
Dosentti, Valtiotieteiden tohtori / Dr. Soc. Sci, adjunct professor


Assistentinkatu 7

Areas of expertise

- Enemy images - War photography - War propaganda - Photography as a source for historical research - ”New military history” - Trench art - Prisoners of war - Germany before 1945


Ongoing Projects

Changing Means of Visual Health Promotion and the Construction of Ideal Citizenship, ca. 1918–2021 (2022–)
Health promotion is aimed to keep people safe and healthy. Yet health promotion is never only transmission of important information. It always carries and creates assumptions, ideas and ideals. During the twentieth century, notions of cleanliness and hygiene became central in the era of rapid urbanisation and concurrent development of science, and health promotion flourished. Citizens were instructed to take responsibility of their own well-being. Our research analyses how health promotion poster campaigns aimed to educate Finnish, German and Soviet citizens to improve their lives and the health of the entire state, and what kind of ideals of good citizenship these posters created. The research scrutinises the means of health promotion from the so-called Spanish flu or Great Influenza of the 1918 to the COVID-19 pandemic. The leading idea behind the analysis of visual health promotion is the concept of the modern citizen. What kind of ideals were pictured and constructed in the health promotion posters, and how? Were these ideals similar or different between the Finnish and German citizens and the so-called “New Soviet Person”? And is the health promotion creating ideals of good citizenship today?

The War Veterans and the Finnish Society 1940–2020 (2020–)
This project initiated and funded by the Finnish Veterans’ Associations aims to offer a complete view on the organisations formed by the invalids and veterans of the Second World War in Finland, their activities as well as the different forms of help and support the veterans recieved from the Finnish society during the years.

The Key images of Finnish history project (2017-)
This project has received funding from Alfred Kordelin Foundation and Ella ja Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation.
My research aims to find out how Finland, Finnish history and Finnish identity have been constructed by use of photography in Finland and abroad. The outcome of this study helps us to understand how to use pictures more effectively in communications. Building process of the Finnish national state has created a demand for production of desired kind of Finnishness among the nation. This building process happened simultaneously with the development of modern photography.The research project uses a wide range of visual sources.

Changing threats and mechanisms of surveillance in Finland (2018-)
This project has received funding from Kone Foundation.I´m taking part in Changing threats and mechanisms of surveillance in Finland –project. The project is about Finnish domestic security in 200 years of timespan from the early 19th century to the present.  We focus in the security threats of Finnish society, associated institutions and mechanisms of control. Historical research enables clarification of the long time trends of control policy and security mindset. Our research questions are: How and with what grounds did different actors make their perception about threats? What kind of strategy did the authorities build on based on these threats? What kind of national and international context do the threats and mechanisms for preventing these treats form in? What kind of direct and indirect impacts do the treats and strategies of the authorities have?

Past projects
Photographs and History (2016-2018)
This project has received funding from Alfred Kordelin Foundation.
This book edited by D.S.Sc. Olli Kleemola and M.A. Silja Pitkänen focuses in the use of photos as historical sources:  Why photographs are essential sources in history? How they have been used in research? How we can use them? What kinds of methods can be used in research? We also review, analyze and comment contemporary discussions about photography as an academic source.


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Educational Posters and Ideal Citizenship (2023)

visual-history : Online-Nachschlagewerk für die historische Bildforschung
Pitkänen Silja, Kleemola Olli
(Artikkeli ammattilehdessä tai kirjoitus ammatillisessa blogissa (D1))

Jotain uutta, jotain vanhaa (2023)

Ennen ja Nyt : Historian Tietosanomat
Olli Kleemola
(Kirjoitus tai data-artikkeli tieteellisessä aikakauslehdessä (B1))