Ph.D. Riitta-Marja Leinonen, Postdoctoral Researcher

Research areas

- human-animal relationships
   - children and animals
   - multispecies ethnography
- anthropology of knowledge and skill
- horse cultures, especially Finnish horse culture
   - conceptions and narratives about horses
   - human-horse interaction, horsemanship skills
   - horses at war
   - death of a horse
   - horses in mythology

I did my doctorate on Finnish horse culture. I explained how the changing roles of the horse are displayed in the concepts of it, its handling and human-horse relationship in Finland. The time span of the research dates from the 1920s to 2000s but some background knowledge of horses from archaeology, history and ethnology are also used.

I have also studied the human-horse relationship at war through the narratives of Finnish WWII veterans, the nationalistic representations of the Finnhorse in trotting championships and co-living of horses and humans in the 19th century. Currently I am working on horse burials with archaeologists and on child-animal relationships in AniMate project as a post doc from September 1st 2017.

I spend my free time with my family, dog and horse.


Leinonen, R-M & Dalke, K. (2017). National treasure: Nationalistic representations of the Finnhorse in trotting championships. Equestrian Cultures in Global and Local Contexts. Eds. Miriam Adelman & Kirrilly Thompson. Springer, 105-117.

Rautio, P., Hohti, R., Leinonen, R-M & Tammi, T. (2017). Shitgulls and shops are nature: urban child-within-nature configurations. Environmental Education Research, DOI:10.1080/13504622.2017.1325446

Leinonen, R-M (2017). Living with horses: Horse agency in human–horse cohabitation in 19th-century Finnish swidden culture. Shared lives of Humans and Animals: Animal Agency in the Global North. Eds. Taina Syrjämaa and Tuomas Räsänen. Routledge, 49-62.

Leinonen, R-M (2016). From Servant to Therapist: The Changing Meaning of Horses in Finland. The Meaning of Horses - Biosocial Encounters. Eds. Dona Davis and Anita Maurstad. Routledge, 54-68.

Leinonen, R-M (2013). Palvelijasta terapeutiksi – Ihmisen ja hevosen suhteen muuttuvat kulttuuriset mallit Suomessa. Acta Universitatis Ouluensis. Series B, Humaniora 115.

Leinonen, R-M (2013). Finnish Narratives of the Horse in World War II. Animals and War - Studies of Europe and North America. Ed. Ryan Hediger. Boston: Brill, 123-150.

Schuurman, N & Leinonen, R-M (2012). The Death of the Horse: Transforming Conceptions and Practices in Finland. Humanimalia 4: 1, 59–82.

Leinonen, R-M (2010). Ihmisen ja hevosen suhteen muuttuminen. In Maataloustieteen päivät 2010. Suomen maataloustieteellisen seuran julkaisuja no 26. Ed. Anneli Hopponen. 2010.

Leinonen, R-M (2009). Finnish horse culture and the changing human-horse relationship. NES Journal of Equine Studies, Nov. 9, 2009.

Leinonen, R-M (2005). Hevosen ja ihmisen kumppanuus sota-aikana. Hevostietokeskus 2005.

Conference papers

- in international scientific conferences

Horse burials: rituals and remembrance at a pet cemetery in Oulu, Finland. With Janne Ikäheimo and Tiina Äikäs. ESRS- European Society for Rural Sociology congress in Krakow, Poland 24.-27.7.2017

“Straight from the horse’s mouth” – Uncanny experiences of communicating with non-human animals. Wild or domesticated – Uncanny in Historical and Contemporary Perspectives to Mind, Helsinki, Finland 20.-22.9.2016.

Nationalistic representations in Finnish horse festivals. FEECA 2016 - A Fieldworker’s Vision: Researching the Present, Aberdeen, Scotland 1.-3.7.2016.

From servant to therapist: the changing meanings of horses in Finland. EASA 2014 conference,Tallinn, Estonia 31.7.–3.8.2014.

National Treasure: Nationalistic Representations of the Finnhorse in Trotting Championships. With Karen Dalke (Univ. of Wisconsin, Green Bay). American Anthropological Association 112th annual meeting Chicago, IL, USA 20.-24.11.2013.

Cultures of cooperation – Etho-ethnology of human-horse communication in riding schools. European Society for Rural Sociology congress in Florence, Italy 29.7.-1.8.2013.

The Death of the Horse: Transforming Conceptions and Practices in Finland. with Nora Schuurman. ESRS congress in Chania, Greece 22.-25.8.2011.

Learning to read the horse: The equine context of tacit knowledge. with Nora Schuurman. ESRS congress in Vaasa, Finland 7.-21.8.2009.

Finnish horse culture and the changing human-horse relationship. ASA09: Anthropological and archaeological imaginations: past, present, future conference in Bristol, UK. 6.-9.4.2009.

Human-horse bond in the second world war – The Finnish veterans’ narratives on the war horse. ISAZ 2005 Conference – Exploring Human-Animal Relationships, Niagara Falls, USA. 10.-11.7.2005.

- in international research seminars:
The change in the cultural meanings of a horse in Finland. The new equine industry research seminar in Vaasa, Finland 7.-8.5.2007 

- in scientific conferences and seminars in Finland: 
Hevosen tilat. with Nora Schuurman. Maantieteen päivät 2010, Joensuu 29.-30.10.2010
Learning to read the horse: The equine context of tacit knowledge. with Nora Schuurman. Autumn seminar of ANIWEL research school in Kuopio, 29.-30.9.2009.
Haastattelu- ja kirjoituskilpailuaineistot ihmisen ja hevosen suhdetta käsittelevän tutkimuksen lähteenä. Etnologian näkymät ja asema 2000-luvulla seminar in Turku 15.-17.5.2008
Ihmisen ja hevosen suhteen tutkiminen. Antropologipäivät in Helsinki 15.-17.5.2008
Hevoset osana elämäntarinaa. Kulttuurintutkimuksen päivät in Tampere 9.-10.12.2005 
Ihmisen ja hevosen suhteen tutkimisen metodologiaa ja teoriaa. Sosiologipäivät in Joensuu 1.-2.4.2005
Hevonen suomalaisessa mytologiassa. KUTU seminar in Oulu 16.-17.3.2005


Finnish Society for Human-Animal Studies


Last updated: 14.9.2017