Free public lecture on oral history in Finland

/ January 8, 2019/ Featured, Guest speaker, Special event

Oral History Australia SA/NT is delighted to host a free public lecture to kick off our 40th anniversary celebrations.  The lecture will be given by Professor Outi Fingerroos from the University of Jyväskylä in Finland on:

Oral history and written sources: Oral history in Finland and Northern Europe.

Date: Monday 18 February, 2019

Time: 4 – 5 pm (preceded by afternoon tea at 3 pm)

Venue: Hetzel Room, Institute Building, State Library of South Australia (afternoon tea in the Circulating Library of the Institute Building)

Cost: free, but RSVPs required for catering purposes

A special day of activities: Note that this presentation is part of a day of activities, beginning with the Ethical Storytelling workshop (10 am – 3 pm) and an afternoon tea (3 – 4 pm, in the Circulating Library of the Institute Building).  Please RSVP so we know accurate numbers for catering.

Oral History in Finland

In Finland, archives and researchers in different disciplines have always worked with oral memory materials, quite independently of the birth of oral history or its establishment as a scholarly discipline. The first sound recordings of music, language and folk poetry for research purposes were made at the turn of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and by the 1930s folklore was being systematically recorded by the Finnish Literature Society, the oldest wax cylinder recordings dating back to 1905. In the 1960s, tape recorders became an established tool in folklore fieldwork, making it possible for the voices of unlettered persons to be heard and enabling scholars to obtain data more quickly. Indeed, the 1960s constitute an important period in oral history research in that it was then that the collection of oral history materials commenced. At that time, however, the oral history movement was almost unknown in Finland.

Oral history flourished in Finland in the 1990s and the present decade, and today’s research is again raising new questions. Typical of present-day activities are the digitising projects that are being undertaken by various archives and research institutes. The digital age has brought about a revolutionary change in the field of oral history, creating as it has altogether new questions for research. What is the significance of copyright and confidentiality? What is it permissible and possible to publish? The researchers themselves consider what can be obtained from the kind of digitised sound that was previously inaudible because of the technically weak quality of the recording instruments. Conceptions about what constitute possible objects of research and research materials have expanded, and as a result, the spectrum of interesting voices and their audibility has broadened.

In this lecture, Professor Outi Fingerroos will explore the development of oral history in Finland and Northern Europe while also highlighting the key questions facing all oral historians.

About Professor Fingerroos

Outi Fingerroos is Professor of Ethnology and Anthropology in The Department of History and Ethnology, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.  Fingerroos completed her Ph.D. in Comparative Religion from the University of Turku in 2004.  She was appointed Professor of Ethnology at the University of Jyväskylä in 2014.  She has been an Academy of Finland postdoctoral researcher, an Academy Research Fellow, as well as a visiting researcher at the University of Tarto, Estonia (2005), the University of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2010), the University of Stockholm, Sweden (2013) and the University of Technology, Sydney (2015-2016; 2018-2019).  She is a founding member of the Finnish Oral History Network and a vice-president of the International Oral History Association IOHA.  She has studied death rituals, the meaning of Karelia as a place of memories and as a utopia, and most recently migration and family reunification processes.

We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Marsden Szwarcbord Foundation in funding this event.

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