Professor of the Year Anssi Paasi is considered to be the most internationally recognised, respected and quoted Finnish human geographer. Paasi's research is characterised by its multidisciplinarity and open-mindedness. His areas of research that include borders, humanitarian immigration and the rise of nationalism are very topical.
“Professor Paasi has also spoken about and strongly advocates the importance of basic research”, said Jouni Kivistö-Rahnasto, the Chair of the Finnish Union of University Professors, when explaining the selection criteria for Professor of the Year.
“Basic research provides new theoretical and empirical information that is needed for applications and development work. Both support each other. Basic research is also needed as a basis for high-quality teaching,” said Anssi Paasi.
Professor Paasi (64) has been Professor of Geography at the University of Oulu since 1989. He was an Academy Professor between 2008 and 2012. Paasi led the Academy of Finland’s RELATE Centre of Excellence in 2014–2019. Both Paasi and RELATE were pioneers in geography. The Centre of Excellence had research teams from the Universities of Oulu, Tampere and Helsinki.
The importance of regional and border research has increased
Anssi Paasi's field of research is political geography and border research. The regional theory developed by Paasi in his doctoral dissertation, The Institutionalization of Regions: Theory and Comparative Case Studies (1986) is internationally widely recognised. His Territories, Boundaries and Consciousness (1996) is a classic in the field of border research.
Recently, the importance of the Paasi’s field of research has increased as a result of the surge in humanitarian migration and the rise of nationalism. "Research on both regions and borders has been on the rise since the 1990s, and the increased mobility of people has only reinforced the importance of these themes," he said.
A recent edited book by the RELATE Centre of Excellence, Borderless World for Whom? Ethics, Moralities and Mobilities (2019), published by Routledge explores the relationship between international migration, tourism, ethics and borders. In 2018, Paasi and his English colleagues published a comprehensive book on the diverse meanings of regions and territories.
After his term at the Centre of Excellence finished, Paasi has continued his research on topics related to political geography.
Paasi has been very productive throughout his research career. His list of scientific publications contains over 270 titles. Many of his studies have been published in top international journals. Paasi has also been involved in significant research evaluation roles, most recently as a member of the grant application panel of the European Research Council.
In his teaching work, Anssi Paasi has tried to closely integrate top research and course lectures. In the 1990s and 2000s he organised numerous international doctoral training events within the graduate school of geography, which is funded by the Academy of Finland. He has mentored more than ten dissertations.
Paasi was invited to become a member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters in 2001. His scientific articles have received international awards. The award for the Professor of the Year is EUR 20,000.
Professor Anssi Paasi has spoken about and strongly advocates the importance of basic research. “Basic research provides new theoretical and empirical information that is needed for applications and development work. Basic research is also needed as a basis for high-quality teaching.”
Photo: Lasse Lehto
Main photo: Professor Anssi Paasi. Photo: Maiju Pohjanheimo
Last updated: 21.1.2020