JMC Personnel

Dr. Benita Heiskanen
Professor of North American Studies, Director

Docent of North American Studies, University of Helsinki
Docent of American Studies, University of Turku

Tel.  +358 (0) 29 450 2205
​Email: benita.heiskanen[at]utu.fi
Office: Publicum Building, Room 262

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JMC - Benita Heiskanen

Biography

Benita Heiskanen received her Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004, and has since then worked in Ireland, Denmark, and Finland. Before joining the JMC, she was employed as Collegium Researcher at the Turku Institute for Advanced Studies (TIAS). Her recent publications include two journal issues, “Popularizing Politics: The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election,” in the European Journal for American Studies (coedited with Albion M. Butters) and “Disrupting Insecurities: Grassroots Interventions in North America,” in Comparative American Studies (coedited with Samira Saramo). Heiskanen is the author of The Urban Geography of Boxing: Race, Class, and Gender in the Ring (New York: Routledge, 2012; paperback 2014). Her peer reviewed publications include journal articles in Comparative American Studies, the JOMEC Journal: Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies; Middle Ground Journal: World History and Global Studies; American Studies in Scandinavia; European Journal of American Studies, European Journal of Cultural Studies; Diálogos Latinoamericanos; Auto/Biography; and Journal of Sport History.


Heiskanen’s areas of interest include Transnational American Studies, the U.S.-Mexico border region, USA-Cuba relations, race & ethnicity in the United States, U.S. Latino/as, popular culture, and sport. Methodologically, she specializes in ethnography, oral history, and visual analysis. Theoretically, she is interested in the geography of the body, space, and place; the ethics of looking; and race, class, and gender formations. She currently directs a four-year research project on Texas's ‘Campus Carry' legislation, funded by the Academy of Finland and a three-year project on urban transformation in Havana, funded by the KONE Foundation. Heiskanen has recently completed a project dealing with experiences and representations of violence on the El Paso, Texas-Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua border between the United States and Mexico (both the femicides [feminicidio] that began in the 1990s and the so-called "drug war" of the 21st century). She is a frequent commentator in Finnish media about U.S. history, society, and culture.​

Dr. Albion M. Butters
Research Fellow

​Email: albion.butters[at]utu.fi

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JMC - Lotta Kähkönen

Biography

Albion M. Butters holds a Ph.D. in the History of Religion from Columbia University (2006). His multidisciplinary research interests include questions of identity and meaning-making, shifting ideologies (religious and secular), and the integration of spiritual themes in popular culture.

His most recent publications include the journal issue “Popularizing Politics: The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election,” in the European Journal for American Studies (coedited with Benita Heiskanen), and a chapter in The Assimilation of Yogic Religions through Pop Culture (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, forthcoming, 2017).

Dr. Lotta Kähkönen
Research Fellow

Tel. +358 (0)40 5198194
​Email: lotkah[at]utu.fi
Office: Publicum Building, Room 252

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JMC - Lotta Kähkönen

Biography

Before joining the JMC, Lotta Kähkönen has worked in several multidisciplinary research projects at the school of History, Culture and Arts Studies, University of Turku. After earning her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature in 2012, Kähkönen has pursued her post-doctoral research in Gender Studies.

Her research interests include theorization of gender, experience, and embodiment, Narrative Studies, and contemporary North American literature and art. The topics of her recent publications range from transgender stories and narrative ethics to theories on affect.

Dr. Kirsi Cheas
Postdoctoral Researcher

Email: kirsi.cheas[at]utu.fi
Office: Publicum Building, Room 441

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JMC - Kirsi Cheas

Biography

Kirsi Cheas specializes in cross-national comparative and interdisciplinary research. Currently, she focuses on North American and Finnish news media. She is particularly passionate about combining area and cultural studies with media and political communication studies, thus creating broader frameworks to understand societal context and processes related to the democratization of knowledge. At JMC, she works as a postdoctoral researcher in the project titled “Tragediauutisoinnin haasteet – median mahdollisuudet käsitellä kouluampumisia.”

Cheas completed her doctoral dissertation at the University of Helsinki in January 2018. Her doctoral thesis compared American and Finnish foreign news on the Global South. She is also a founding member and current president of FINTERDIS – The Finnish Interdisciplinary Society, an active member of the international Association for Interdisciplinary Studies, and president of the ASLA-Fulbright Alumni Association.

Dr. Reetta Humalajoki
Postdoctoral Researcher

Tel. +358 (0) 29 450 3894
Email: reetta.humalajoki[at]utu.fi
Office: Publicum Building, Room 256

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JMC - Reetta Humalajoki

Biography

Reetta Humalajoki’s research highlights the intersections between indigenous, North American, and Cold War studies. Her new project, ‘Transnational Indigenous Activism: Asserting Sovereignty in the Cold War United States and Canada, 1953-1975’, funded by the Academy of Finland, examines the responses of national indigenous activist organizations to assimilationist policies in both a transnational and comparative context. The project will focus on the development of national Native movements and the extent to which U.S. and Canadian indigenous activists created cross-border networks in the mid-twentieth century. Drawing on both indigenous and Cold War studies methodologies, this research will evaluate the impacts of Native political action on federal policy-making in both countries. Reetta is also interested in contemporary activist movements, U.S. and Canadian domestic policy, oral history, and popular representations of race.


Reetta Humalajoki completed her Ph.D. in History at Durham University in 2016, funded by the Osk. Huttunen Foundation and the Finnish Cultural Foundation. She is currently revising her dissertation, “Debating Termination: Rhetoric and Responses to U.S. American Indian Policy, 1947-1970,” for publication. Her peer-reviewed article in Western Historical Quarterly (Winter 2017) was awarded the Bert M. Fireman and Janet Fireman Award by the Western History Association. She has also written blog posts for U.S. Studies Online. Before joining the JMC, Humalajoki taught at Durham University and the University of Newcastle. In 2017, she was Northumbria University’s Early Career Visiting Fellow in American Studies and a Visiting Research Fellow at the British Library’s Eccles Centre for North American Studies.​

Dr. Maiju Kannisto
Postdoctoral Researcher

Email: maikan[at]utu.fi
Office: Publicum Building, Room 443

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JMC - Maiju Kannisto

Biography

At JMC, Maiju Kannisto works as a postdoctoral researcher in the project titled “Tragediauutisoinnin haasteet – median mahdollisuudet käsitellä kouluampumisia.” The research project explores the U.S. and Finnish media’s reporting of the 2018 high school shootings in Parkland, Florida. The project contributes to crisis journalism and media studies. Its main objective is to promote research on ethical, political, cultural and educational factors in journalism.

Kannisto received her PhD. in Cultural History from the University of Turku in December 2018. Kannisto’s Ph.D. dissertation analyzed the change in Finnish commercial television between the 1980s and the 2000s. Kannisto’s research interests also include media industry studies, media history and intermediality.

Dr. Henna-Riikka Pennanen
Postdoctoral Researcher

Tel. +358 (0) 29 450 3098
Email: henna-riikka.pennanen[at]utu.fi
Office: Publicum Building, Room 253

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JMC - Henna-Riikka Pennanen

Biography

Henna-Riikka Pennanen is a TIAS (Turku Institute of Advanced Studies) Post-Doctoral Researcher working at the JMC. Her research project "Rising Dragon, Rising Sun: A Century of Threat Perceptions of China and Japan in the United States" analyzes U.S. elite threat perceptions on China and Japan during three time periods from the turn of the 20th century to the present. The project contributes to international relations studies, U.S. cultural, political and social history, and transnational American studies.


Before joining the JMC in 2017, Pennanen received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Jyväskylä in 2015 and held fixed-term positions as Post-Doctoral Researcher and Project Coordinator in the Department of History and Ethnology at the University of Jyväskylä. In her doctoral work, Pennanen specialized in 19th century conceptual and intellectual history and history of U.S.–East Asian relations. At JMC, Pennanen has conducted projects on contemporary U.S.–East Asia relations and narratives of “the West.”

Dr. Samira Saramo
Postdoctoral Researcher

Tel.  +358 (0) 50 560 4548
Email: samira.saramo[at]utu.fi
Office: Publicum Building, Room 263

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JMC - Samira Saramo

Biography

Samira Saramo’s multidisciplinary research focuses on ethnicity, gender, emotion, violence, place-making, and social movements in both historical and current contexts. Analyzing personal letters, memoirs, and social media narratives, Saramo is particularly interested in the form and accompanying challenges of life writing research. In her current research project, “Death and Mourning in Finnish North America,” funded by the Academy of Finland and previously by the Wihuri Foundation, Saramo explores Finnish immigrants' personal narrations and everyday experiences with death and mourning in the years 1880–1939. Saramo contends that the fear of dying alone, far away from home, fostered the development of North American ethnic community life. She has recently published "'I Have Such Sad News': Loss in Finnish North American Letters" in European Journal of Life Writing (2018) and "Lakes, Rock, Forest: Placing Finnish Canadian History" in Journal of Finnish Studies (2018). Saramo, along with Hanna Snellman and Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto, is currently coediting the collection Transnational Death, in which she assesses the field of transnational death studies. 


Saramo’s research interests also include contemporary violence and grassroots activism in Canada and the United States. This work has resulted in the article “Unsettling Spaces: Grassroots Responses to Canada’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women during the Harper Government Years,” which appeared in a thematic issue of  ​Comparative American Studies, “Disrupting Insecurities: North American Grassroots Interventions” that Saramo coedited with Benita Heiskanen. In 2017, the article “The Meta-violence of Trumpism” appeared in a special issue of the European Journal of American Studies, “Popularizing Politics: The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.” Saramo holds a Ph.D. in History from York University. Before joining the John Morton Center in 2015, she taught at Lakehead University and Confederation College.

Malla Lehtonen
Project Researcher

Tel.  +358 (0) 29 450 3097
Email: malla.lehtonen[at]utu.fi
Office: Publicum Building, Room 254

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JMC - Malla Lehtonen

Biography

Malla Lehtonen graduated from the University of Turku in 2015 with an MA in Cultural History. In her studies, she focused on U.S. environmental history, and her MA includes interdisciplinary studies in Environmental Sciences and Sustainable Development. Lehtonen wrote her Bachelor’s Project on Garrett Hardin’s 1968 essay The Tragedy of the Commons and her Master’s Thesis on Hardin’s work as an activist for abortion rights in the U.S. between 1963 and 1974. Lehtonen is interested in the history and current developments of environmental thought and discourses, as well as social movements, in the U.S.

Before joining the JMC as Project Researcher, Lehtonen worked as Project Coordinator at the Department of Cultural History at the University of Turku. Prior to that, she did an internship at the JMC in early 2014 and then served as Coordinator in 2015–2016, meaning that she has been with the Center since its inception.

Nadia Nava Contreras
Project Researcher

Email: nadia.navacontreras[at]utu.fi
Office: Publicum Building, Room 441

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JMC - Nadia Nava Contreras

Biography

Nadia Nava Contreras holds a master’s degree in History of the Americas from Universidad Michoacana (Mexico) and currently is a PhD candidate in Social Sciences (political history) at the University of Helsinki. Her doctoral research deals with Mexican – Finnish relations from the last third of the 19th century to the 1970’s and revolves around the construction of mutual images, diplomacy and cooperation projects.

At the John Morton Center, Nadia Nava Contreras is part of the CUBAFLUX research team and is interested in studying the ways in which Havana residents perceive, live, cope and represent the rapid urban changes the city is facing.

Jaakko Hirvioja
Research Assistant

Email: jaakko.j.hirvioja[at]utu.fi
Office: Publicum Building, Room 442

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JMC - Jaakko Hirvioja
Biography

Jaakko Hirvioja holds a B.A. degree in Musicology from the University of Turku, with an extended minor in North American Studies. His bachelor’s thesis combined the concepts of space, glocalization and decolonization within Finnish lappish hip hop. His main interests in academia are in the area of North American Indigenous studies, sport politics, and music.

JMC Board & Council

JMC Board 2017–2018

Chair

 

Vice Chair

 
Juha Vuori Professor
Juha Vuori
University of Tampere
Sampo Ruoppila Research Director
Sampo Ruoppila
University of Turku
       

Members

     
Taina Iduozee ARC Director
Taina Iduozee
Embassy of the
United States
Elina Mainela-Arnold Professor
Elina Mainela-Arnold
University of Turku
       
Terhi Mölsä Chief Executive Officer
Terhi Mölsä
Fulbright Finland
Foundation sr
Lauri Rapeli Director of Research
Lauri Rapeli
Åbo Akademi University
       
Minna Ruckenstein Senior Researcher
Minna Ruckenstein
Consumer Society
Research Centre,
University of Helsinki
Hannu Salmi Professor
Hannu Salmi
University of Turku
JMC Council 2017–2018

Chair

 

Vice Chair

 
Arja Suominen

SVP, Communications
and CR
Arja Suominen
Finnair

Marjatta Hietala Professor Emerita
Marjatta Hietala
University of Tampere
       

Members

     
Minna Aila EVP, Marketing and
Corporate Affairs
Minna Aila
Konecranes
Jari Ala-Ruona Founder
Jari Ala-Ruona
Aion Sigma
       
Seija-Liisa Eskola
Head of Productions
and Scripted
Seija-Liisa Eskola
Warner Bros. Finland
Kjell Forsen CEO
Kjell Forsén
Vaisala
       
Lena Grenat Executive Director
Lena (Hartikainen) Grenat
SAM
Veera Heinonen Director, Communications and
Public Affairs
Veera Heinonen
Sitra
       
Markku Henriksson Professor Emeritus
Markku Henriksson
University of Helsinki
Eero Hokkanen Communications Manager
Eero Hokkanen
Arctia
       
Kari Huhta Journalist
Kari Huhta
Helsingin Sanomat
Jenni Isola Director, Membership Services
Jenni Isola
Amcham Finland
       
Kristina Kaihari Counsellor of Education
Kristina Kaihari
Finnish National Agency
for Education
Elina Kalkku Under-Secretary of State
Elina Kalkku
Ministry of Foreign
Affairs of Finland
       
Saara Kankaanrinta CEO and Co-Founder
Saara Kankaanrinta
Soilfood
Ulla Koski President
Ulla Koski
Helsingin Sanomat Foundation
       
Tanja Kotro Director of Strategy
Tanja Kotro
Viima Solutions
Jarno Limnell Professor
Jarno Limnéll
Aalto University
       
Tuomo Lähdesmäki Chairman,
Board of Directors
Tuomo Lähdesmäki
Turku University Foundation
Mette Nordström Journalist
Mette Nordström
YLE
       
Minna Nurminen Board Member
Minna Nurminen
Kone Foundation
Leena Svinhuvud Educational Curator,
Board Member
Leena Svinhufvud
Design Museum, Jenny and
Antti Wihuri Foundation
       
Elina Talonen-Lintunen Executive Director, Fundraising
Elina Talonen-Lintunen
Youth for Understanding Finland
Jussi Valtonen Author
Jussi Valtonen
       
Keijo Virtanen Professor Emeritus
Keijo Virtanen
University of Turku