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Cultural memory and social change

Cultural memory and social change is one of the six strategic research and education profiles of the University of Turku. It supports the extensive, critical and multidisciplinary research on memory and its social connections. Cultural memory refers to the collective practices that societies use to build and uphold their relationship to the past, living in the present, and preparing for the future.

Remembering is interaction between individuals, and memories are socially shaped and negotiated. Media, popular culture, art as well as educational institutions create and disseminate cultural memory. They shape narratives through which experiences are shared within communities and across generations. Research participates in this process by exploring the condensations of memory as well as what is forgotten. As society changes, the objects and practices of remembering change; on the other hand, new practices of memory create conditions for social change and political debate.

Communities, groups and minorities have their own cultural memories, and understanding them forms the starting-point for cultural sustainability and well-being. Memory lives in the present and defines how we understand ourselves and our place in the world as well as how we imagine and shape the future. At the University of Turku, cultural memory and social change are studied extensively from the prehistoric times to the present.

Research projects

Interrelations between experience, narrative and memory

Instrumental Narratives: The Limits of Storytelling and New Story-Critical Narrative Theory (Academy of Finland, PI Hanna Meretoja)

#NeverAgain: Teaching Transmission of Trauma and Remembrance through Experiential Learning (EU/EC, PI Hanna Meretoja)

Seekers of the New: Esotericism and Religious Transformation in Finland during the Era of Modernisation from the 1880s to the 1930s (Kone, PI Maarit Leskelä-Kärki)

Interpreting Violence: Narrative, Ethics and Hermeneutics (NOS-HS, PI Hanna Meretoja)

Motherhood under Attack: A Transcultural Study of Literary Representations of Jewish Mothers during the Holocaust (Helena Duffy)

Emotional Immersion in Literary Texts (IMMERSED) (SA, PI Johanna K. Kaakinen)

Nordic Voices (NOS-HS, PI Anne Heimo)

Cultural health and well-being

Tracking the Therapeutic: Ethnographies of Wellbeing, Politics and Inequality (TRACKTHERA) (Academy of Finland, PI Suvi Salmenniemi)

Contestation of Health and Wellbeing in the Nordic Countries (NOS-HS workshop grant, 2020-2021, PI Suvi Salmenniemi)

Arts and popular culture as constructors and challengers of cultural memory

PhD research: Documentary imagination: Performing difficult pasts in contemporary Nordic documentary (Niina Oisalo)

Cultural memory and processes of social change in relation to inequality and multiculturalism
Re-assessment of cultural premises based on ancient DNA

Finno-Ugric Genome (Erkko Foundation, Kone, Finnnish Cultural Foundation, PI Päivi Onkamo)

Kipot ja kielet: arkeologisten esineiden ja kielellisten typologioiden tietokantoja (PI Päivi Onkamo & Outi Vesakoski)

Digital cultural heritage

Computational History and the Transformation of Public Discourse in Finland, 1640–1910 (Academy of Finland, PI Tapio Salakoski & Hannu Salmi)

Oceanic Exchanges: Tracing Global Information Networks In Historical Newspaper Repositories, 1840–1914 (Trans-Atlantic Platform, PI Hannu Salmi)

Cultural sustainability transformation

IN SITU: Place-based innovation of cultural and creative industries in non-urban areas (HE, PI Maunu Häyrynen, PI of Finland Futures Research Centre team Katriina Siivonen, Pauliina Latvala-Harvilahti, Marjo Heino, Aleksandra Nenko)

Kohti jälkifossiilista työelämää, POFOTYÖ (Finnish Work Environment Fund, PI Suvi Salmenniemi, Eeva Houtbeckers, Hanna Ylöstalo, Katriina Siivonen, Satu Tuittila)

Sufficiency solutions for a resilient, green, and just Finland, SISU (Strategic Research Council, Katriina Siivonen)

Research profile projects funded by the Academy of Finland

Human Diversity

Human Diversity focuses on cutting-edge research on how human contacts and communication networks influence material and immaterial culture, genes, disease burden, transgenerational effects and evolutionary fitness of people. We tackle the following questions: How did past contacts and communication networks induce current human diversity, and how will society be prepared for future changes in diversity?

Human Diversity is funded by the Academy of Finland (Profi7) and links to the University of Turku’s strategic research and education profile “Cultural memory and social change”.

>> Human Diversity

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