Visiting Scholars

Dr Pertti Grönholm, Turku Institute of Advanced Studies, University of Turku, Finland – to University of Glasgow: 03 – 17 November 2016

Dr Pertti Grönholm

Research Seminar: Wednesday 09 November, 16.00
How to do historical research on the use of history?
Even today historical wrongs, traumas and victories are still constantly employed in political and cultural debates. During the past 25 years, we have seen, especially in Europe, but also in the Middle and Far East, numerous debates over historical events and processes and their interpretations. Historical narratives, legends and myths but also facts and scholarly conclusions are being elaborated in political speeches and programs, not to mention the use of history in ideological and religious judgments. In my presentation, I will ask what historians and other scholars should to do in order to better their understanding about the use of history. By introducing concepts which are intended to help in the analysis of the various uses of history I hope to deepen and further the discussion on the functions and meaning of historical knowledge in the society.

Postgraduate Seminar/Masterclass: Wednesday 16 November, 13.00 N
Finland and the memory of WWII
In Finland, three separate wars, namely the Winter War, the Continuation War and the Lapland War which Finns fought between 1939 and 1945 are still a subject of scholarly and public debate. Nowadays, the debates usually concern the new academic approaches and perspectives but during the Cold War years the interpretations on the wars were at the core of the Finnish post-war identity making and rebuilding of the nation. Above this, both the scholarly and public remembering of the wars reflected the changes in Finnish inner and foreign politics. This presentation is a brief outlook on the most important discussions on the meaning and importance of the Finnish wars.

Teaching Contribution
As mentioned above I had my first presentation at the CEES Research Seminar.  I was very pleased to find many students and members of the CEES staff present in the class, despite the morning news which brought us the results of the US presidential elections. After my lecture we enjoyed a very active and inspiring discussion which helped me to further develop my concepts and ideas. My second presentation in IMRCEES Master Class was also very rewarding, since after my lecture we had a lively discussion on the subject and a couple of students told that my categories on the different dimensions of history in society would actually contribute to their own Master’s theses. I was happy to tell more about the public discussion in Finland concerning 20th century Finnish history.

In the evening get-togethers, we (consisting of several students and members of the CEES stuff) had some very nice discussions on the contemporary state of academic historical research, politics of history in Russia and the Baltic Sea region, current international relations and conflicts, not forgetting students’ own research topics. I found the students of IMRCEES very motivated and committed to their studies which gave me a lot of new ideas and perspective on my own teaching and supervising.

Collaboration with colleagues
I felt warmly welcomed by the CEES staff and I was delighted to be introduced to many new colleagues. I am extremely grateful to professor David Smith who hosted me during my stay and made it easy to contact the staff and researchers. I was able to exchange ideas with 5–6 CEES colleagues, their academic disciplines ranging from law studies to literature and from history to social sciences. I would be happy to do collaboration with them in the future. For example, I learned how different disciplines can be fruitfully combined in research.

In addition, I realized that the so-called area studies which became popular in the early 2000’s also in Finland have gradually grown into problem-oriented and even more multidisciplinary research. This seemingly bears both advantages and challenges to research institutions and individual researchers.

During my stay, I was able to forward my personal research project by writing two current journal article manuscripts and by analysing some original sources related to these manuscripts. The research facilities provided by the University of Glasgow were excellent. Furthermore, I was happy to get more familiar with the university campus and the City of Glasgow and its famous museums and art collections.

Overall, I am very satisfied with my visit to CEES and the University of Glasgow. If asked, I would recommend any colleague interested in the Russian and Eastern European Studies to visit the CEES.


Date: May 26, 2018 9:55 am