"Here, it matters which family you are born into, it affects everything." The formation and meanings of historical consciousness in the lives of girls from the Finnish Sámi Homeland

Thesis event information

Date and time of the thesis defence

Place of the thesis defence

Linnanmaa, Oulun Puhelin -sali, L5

Topic of the dissertation

"Here, it matters which family you are born into, it affects everything." The formation and meanings of historical consciousness in the lives of girls from the Finnish Sámi Homeland

Doctoral candidate

Master of Arts Helena Ristaniemi

Faculty and unit

University of Oulu Graduate School, Faculty of Humanities, History, Culture and Communication Studies

Subject of study

History

Opponent

Professor Sanna Valkonen, University of Lapland

Custos

Docent Kaisa Vehkalahti, University of Jyväskylä

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"Here, it matters which family you are born into, it affects everything." The formation and meanings of historical consciousness in the lives of girls from the Finnish Sámi Homeland

The dissertation explores the historical consciousness and experiences of belonging of girls living in Finland’s Sámi Homeland region as they transitioned from comprehensive school to secondary education. This transitional phase has traditionally been seen as a forward-looking period in young people’s lives during which they make decisions that will exert a long-lasting impact on their future. Exploring the role that local history plays during this stage, the dissertation focuses on the histories passed down within families and among kin and local communities. Such histories often consist of knowledge passed down from one generation to the next in the forms of narratives, and traditions that are linked to wider historical events.

The girls’ lives of are examined through three key concepts: historical consciousness, belonging, and gender. A new materialist approach forms the work’s philosophical orientation. The study is a qualitative longitudinal study that follows the lives of 12 girls in 2019 and 2020. The data comprise interviews, lifeline drawings, and photographs. From a new materialist perspective, history is constituted with culture, environment, nature, and animals. For the girls in the study, history often takes the form of stories, activities, conventions, and traditions.

The key finding of the study is that history is not only on the background in the lives of the girls: traditions and local culture are central to their everyday lives and to their plans for the future. However, historical consciousness also encompasses difficult and negative experiences, and the girls’ historical consciousness is intertwined with their experiences of belonging. Historical consciousness is also gendered and shapes the girls’ notions of femininity, tradition, and society. The research demonstrates the centrality of history in the reflections on the girls’ future and the cultural continuums in which they situate themselves.
Last updated: 13.1.2023