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SIEF2013 11th Congress: Tartu, Estonia.
30 June - 4 July, 2013

SIEF2013: Circulation

Tartu, Estonia; 30th June - 4th July


Locality and cultural processes

Location Jakobi 2, 106
Date and Start Time 02 July, 2013 at 10:30


Helena Ruotsala (University of Turku) email
Niina Koskihaara (University of Turku) email
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Short Abstract

Societies are facing many kinds of challenges. Cultural processes caused by societal changes can create new kinds of ways to use and emphasize cultures on the local level. Localities are scenes for cultural processes affected by acts and actors of both societal macro level and local micro level.

Long Abstract

Heated political debate about the number of municipalities has been going on e.g. in Finland. The political and economic acts and decisions affect not only on people's everyday life but also on the locality. Sometimes these acts cause rapid changes following each other constantly. They can also turn local functions totally into new directions by revolutionizing people's everyday life, local cultures and sense of locality. Changes can have effects on borders (concrete or imaginary), economic operations (working places), administrative structures (public services and their availability), uses of environment or identities. Many cultural challenges are waiting to be solved locally by citizens who are active on the grass root level. Although, it can be asked, how do local people as individuals or as members of communities react to the changes affecting on their own life and environment? What is the role of culture in these changed situations? How, e.g. locality is produced in these new situations?

In our panel we are focusing on democracy and social justice from the context of local communities and their inhabitants. New situations demand citizens to create new ways of cooperation and networks extending from local to global level. What kind of possibilities and strategies do local inhabitants and actors on the middle level (e.g. local organizations) have to cope in these new situations? What kind of responsibilities does the civic society take in these sudden political situations?

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.


Local meets global: adaption to environmental changes and the role of local decision-makers

Author: Kirsi Sonck-Rautio (University of Turku)  email

Short Abstract

Societies that rely on nature-based livelihoods are especially vulnerable when facing changes in their natural and cultural environment. How do these societies change and what kind of decision-making processes they have to go through while adapting to new circumstances?

Long Abstract

Rymättylä, a small former municipal of c. 2000 inhabitants (now part of city of Naantali), was known from its traditional and collectively executed herring catchment technique, ice-net fishing "talvinuottaus" (in Finnish). Due the many changes of global and local circumstances connected to this livelihood, such as the introduction of commercial fishing boats and the increasing consumer demand of imported fish, the new survival strategies had to be made by the ice-net fishing collectives. In the middle of 1990's however, the mild winter and thin ice cover became more of a norm, and the old traditional form of livelihood became more or less extinct.

My presentation addresses the questions of decision-making processes on the threshold of a major cultural and local change. What kind of decision-making strategies can be used? What are the decision-making processes like and who are the actors involving these processes? How the inhabitants can adapt to them as individuals and as a group? How can the sense of identity and locality be preserved in such circumstances? And finally, what are the applicable theoretical frameworks and methods to study these questions?

Prehistoric archaeological heritage and sense of locality

Author: Maija Mäki (University of Turku)  email

Short Abstract

My postgraduate research concerns the future of prehistorical tourist attractions in Finland. Although in this conference I will provide wider aspects to the prehistoric archaeological heritage and it´s present meanings and values at the local level in our postmodern society.

Long Abstract

My postgraduate research concerns the future of prehistorical tourist attractions in Finland. Although in this conference I will provide wider aspects to the prehistoric archaeological heritage and it´s present meanings and values at the local level in our postmodern society. I will propose several examples of the production of the prehistorical heritage.

In this Conference I also present the methodology and the main objectives of my postgraduate study. The study produces scenarios, i.e. possible series of pictures of the future of Finnish prehistorical tourism using the methodology of futures studies.

The study is inherently cross-disciplinary: the methods are based in futures studies but the perspectives are from museological tradition, archaeology and tourism research. I believe that futures studies connected to the ethnological research tradition can create completely new, exciting viewpoints to the field of prehistorical tourism research in Finland.

My research is characteristically proactive and future oriented. The study both produces knowledge of how prehistorical relics become tourism attractions and finds practical business strategies for the organisations working in this field in the future. In the Conference I plan to present my premises, methods, and research questions in detail. Especially I will pay attention to the theoretical questions of the prehistoric archaeological heritage and it´s connections to the perspectives of locality.

Rebuilding localities: economic transformation and socio-cultural practices in Transylvania

Author: Lehel Peti (The Romanian Institute for Research on National Minorities)  email

Short Abstract

The aim of the paper is to analyze the production of locality in the context of economic transformation, and to analyze the sociocultural practices which contribute to it.

Long Abstract

The presentation will attempt to analyze what were the consequences of the Romanian post-socialist economic transformation in a micro-region in the reformulation of relationship towards locality, what kind of shifts have emerged in the complex relation of local and global, how did the local societies react to it, as well as what kind of cultural answers were given in the new situation. The ethnographic material of the presentation constitutes two case studies. First, the author briefly describes, how a bakery in a small multiethnic village (inhabited by Romanians, Hungarians, Roma), which was established during socialism, it is now a well functioning entrepreneurship, which employs a significant part of the villagers, being present on the national markets, succeeding to integrate the previously isolated village into new regional and national networks. The author is looking to answer what kind of globalization changes have emerged as a result of this entrepreneurship, and how do these challenge the ethnic groups, which are affected by them in different ways and levels. The other ethnographic case is constituted by a knight of wine order, which is a civil initiation of the micro region which also includes the above-mentioned village. The author argues that the order, which follows patterns of similar initiatives from Hungary and western European countries, in addition to professional and economic purposes, fulfills important communal and political functions, giving place for creation and expression of regional identities, reinterpreting the traditions and constructing new ones.

Prison as a place of Work

Author: Marja-Liisa Räisänen (University of Turku)  email

Short Abstract

In my presentation I bring out the Konnunsuo firstly as a place of work, secondly a place for living in the neighborhood of a prison and thirdly the meaning of the prison to the local community.

Long Abstract

In 2003, the Finnish government established a program to increase the productivity in public sector. Government cost-cutting program aimed was to enhance government agencies, and to make savings in the public sector. Savings were made by early retirement, and combining government agencies. My paper focuses on the Konnunsuo Prison which was located in Lappeenranta and was in operation in 1918-2011. The closure of the prison was a sensation, resulting in numerous newspaper articles from 2009 until the end of 2011.

Prison as a working place is quite extraordinary, for people are working in a closed interior.Place is also affected by occupational choice, people chose the carrier in the prison because it was close to their home farms.

My study is different from research done so far in correctional treatment precisely in that earlier studies have been based on educational needs in correctional treatment or they have focused on the problems. In Cultural Research, this kind of study on the critical period of correctional treatment has not been made before.

The study is based on the concepts of cultural change, community research and working life research. I look for a reply to a question of how the prison workers have experienced the crises in their work and how the crises are felt in their everyday life. The latest crisis has been that they have changed from permanent into temporary workers. In the preliminary analysis of the interviews, the last big crisis of the Konnunsuo Prison, its closure, is strongly evident.

Komi protestants and local community initiatives

Authors: Piret Koosa (Estonian National Museum/University of Tartu)  email
Art Leete (University of Tartu)  email

Short Abstract

Evangelical Protestant missions are rather exceptional in providing grass-root level social programmes in the Russian North. We aim to discuss contradictory reception of protestant social programs in predominantly Orthodox social environment.

Long Abstract

Social initiatives are not widespread in rural communities of the Russian North. Evangelical Protestant missions provide an unexpected challenge to municipal administrators in this respect. By their social programmes, Evangelicals step in local social network between official institutions and individuals. Drawing on ethnological fieldwork in Komi Republic, Russia, we aim to explore consequences of Protestant civil endeavours on social as well as religious relationships.

While Orthodoxy is considered to be traditional among the Komis, communities of evangelical Christians have also grown remarkably in the Republic since early 1990s. However, evangelical missionaries have had surprisingly little success in rural areas. Strong, almost natural link perceived to be between religious, social, cultural and national belonging could be seen as one reason for this. Different concept of 'proper' worship practices is another main obstacle for the evangelical newcomers to be accepted among traditionally Orthodox villagers.

As part of their mission, Komi Protestants carry out a lot of social work. They construct playgrounds in kindergartens, renovate cultural houses for communities and help the elderly people, arrange treatment of alcoholism etc. Ironically, by organising all this, Protestants put the Russian Orthodox Church and local administration under pressure as people start to question ROC's efficiency and administrators' management ability. At the same time, through their social enterprises Evangelicals serve to God but also hope to acquire more positive reputation among common people, much needed in the generally sceptical village communities. We plan to discuss ambivalent outcomes of Evangelical public activism in rural areas of Komiland.

Changing municipal boundaries and locality represented by local associations

Author: Niina Koskihaara (University of Turku)  email

Short Abstract

During the last decade, altogether 68 consolidations of municipalities have been implemented in Finland. According to the administrative aim more consolidations will be carried out in the future. The municipality reform has brought out the question of the significances of the locality.

Long Abstract

In my presentation, the focus will be on two movements which have long and significant history in Finland. These associations are local heritage associations and village associations. The activities of the associations are based on the locality, e.g. local heritage associations collect and preserve local heritage and village associations are focused on maintaining village´s vitality and pleasant character in Finnish countryside. The associations do not only preserve but also create locality by their operations.

The ongoing consolidations of municipalities have raised the questions what will happen to the identity of local inhabitants and how the locality is understood and represented after the consolidation. In this situation the role of local associations has been seen as an important actor to preserve both local culture and identity.

In this presentation, I will discuss what kind of effects the consolidations of municipalities have had on the operations of the local associations. Is the locality represented by the associations changed, and in what ways? Has the municipality reform brought new forms of the (co-)operation to the local level? I will also talk about how the local actors have experienced the consolidations of municipalities, and how their experiences and opinions are reflected in the activities of local associations.

This presentation is based on my fieldwork interviews with the local association actors. The ongoing doctoral research is financed by Finnish Cultural Foundation and it is also part of the project about the consolidation of municipalities financed by Kone Foundation.

Consolidation of municipalities and local identity

Author: Lauri Katiskoski (University of Turku )  email

Short Abstract

The municipality reform is changing not only the map of communes but also the local identity of the inhabitants. The living area and the local culture affect the idea of locality of the inhabitants.

Long Abstract

In the coming years Finnish municipalities will undergo extensive reforms due to the ongoing local government reform. The aim is to create communes that are economically robust and at the same time able to provide basic public services. New municipalities are born and a numerous amount of old councils are consolidated to a part of something bigger.

In 2009 four Finnish municipalities were consolidated to the town of Naantali with 18 000 inhabitants. The present town of Naantali is a good example of a modern Finnish municipality that consists of both urban and rural areas. Naantali is economically strong, but the variation between the old localities is large.

In my paper I am going to focus on the local government reform in Naantali. My principal question is how the consolidation affects the inhabitants' own knowledge of their local identity. In Naantali communication between the areas and also the citizen's opportunity to take part in local policy has come under question. In my research I focus on what local people are thinking about the reorganization of the municipalities and how it affects peoples normal life in the new city. Has something changed and if, what has changed? Are people facing new problems? In that case, are those problems local or are they concerning the whole town.

The paper is based on my master's thesis in European ethnology at the University of Turku that is a part of project about consolidations of municipalities financed by the Kone Foundation.

Expanded administrative territories and modification of local identities: reminiscing consolidated home town

Author: Minna Mäkinen (University of Jyväskylä)  email

Short Abstract

My paper concentrates on the region of municipality and its meanings as a place where people feel they belong to and as means to construct local identity. I ask how these meanings changes in the context of merged municipalities.

Long Abstract

In Finland, during the last years there has been a virile attempt to unify small municipalities together or join them to larger cities to form bigger administrative units. Consolidation processes have been some times complicated. People have worries on their everyday tasks as well as on bigger political, social and economic issues. It also seems that people become unsure about their local identity. The significance of identity shifting or changing has been also in the interest of Finnish media.

So, there is a good reason to ask, what happens to local identity in the case of expanded administrative territories. And further: is there a bond between administrative borders and the feelings of locality and placeness? If there is one, how can it be performed and expressed.

In my paper I articulate "municipal heritage" and the idea of the municipality as an imagined and emotional place, which is emphasized in the process of the consolidation of municipalities. People commit themselves to a place by engaging with it, talking about it and even fighting for it.

My empirical example concentrates on the one case, where small municipality, Säynätsalo, "disappeared" and was merged with a larger city of Jyväskylä in 1993.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.