Cultural History in Turku
​Since 2006 Cultural History has been located in the old army barracks of Sirkkala.
Cultural history considers people of the past as agents of history who spun their own webs of significance. We study they ways in which these spinnings changes the social practices that connected and disconnected people of the past; attention is also given to the tangible, concrete, bodily world in which they lived and experienced their surroundings, both real and imagined. Cultural history, then, is not limited to the worlds of science, art and religion, but embraces the past ways of life as mental, material and social practices, and addresses the past thinking, mentalities and emotions.
Temporality, continuities and discontinuities are integral notions to Cultural History. Meanings, signs, symbols and representations are, and were, in constant flow and change, in a perpetual process of becoming. But there are slower rhythms, deeply rooted assemblages, like the gender system or religious beliefs, that need to be considered over a long period of time. Cultural History investigates both long-term and short-term phenomena.

Research and teaching in the Department of Cultural History at the University of Turku

Research and teaching in Cultural History covers the history of (mainly but not exclusively) Western civilisation from antiquity to the present day, emphasising historical and holistic perspectives. We aim at providing students with an understanding of the relationships between different domains of culture and encourage them to construct an overall picture of the past and different historical periods.
Cultural History in Turku is always open to interdisciplinary approaches and new methodological insights. Our research interests span from ancient through medieval to early modern and contemporary fields: media history, gender history, the history of technology, place, material culture and environment, urban cultures and nineteenth and twentienth centuries.

Department's history

When the Department of Cultural History was established in 1972, Cultural History was defined as a study of high culture. The definition was extended in 1978 on the appointment of Cultural History's first chair Veikko Litzen. In Litzen's view culture covered all human activity, so that in the eyes of a cultural historian the medieval cathedral and  the 1920s T-Ford were both equally culturally  significant. Litzen also emphasized culture's communicative nature in which the dialectic between humans and their surroundings was essential.
The next major change occurred in the 1980s, when the linguistic turn and the emergence of a "new" cultural history shaped the understanding of culture. Since then, cultural historians have tended to emphasize the linguistic foundation of culture and human reasoning. Along with new cultural history came new and expanded viewpoints, such as the history of everyday life, microhistory and gender history.
Today Cultural History is in its forties.  It has matured into a versatile discipline with strong international connections; we are for example active members of the International Society for Cultural History (ISCH). Our international profile, together with our enthusiastic students and researchers ensure that the discussion about the essence of cultural history continues daily.



Postal Address
Cultural History

Visiting Address
Historicum building
Kaivokatu 12
FI-20500 Turku

tel + 358 2 333 5232

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