Monday, October 26, 2009

Finn Forum IX call for papers

In 2001, my sister, Katja, and I traveled to Jyväskylä, Finland, to present a paper at Finn Forum VI on research that we did with women and girls of Finnish descent here in Thunder Bay. Our paper, "Roots and Wings. Re-writing identity, tradition and culture: the shifting notion of self and community" was subsequently published in the book Entering Multiculturalism: Finnish Experience Abroad, the cover which you see above. The cover painting is by Aura Jylhä -Vuorio, "Isoäiti ja Ameriikan arkku II" (Grandmother and the American trunk II")

The Finn Forum is a series of Finnish-themed conferences with a traveling venue, from Finland, Sweden, US and Canada.

The next one will be in May of next year here in Thunder Bay. Find some information here and here, and the call for papers here. From the English language call for papers:

"The theme for Finn Forum IX is Finland and the World: Past, Present and Future. We welcome submissions dealing with Finnish history, migration, culture and language. In this era of globalization we also encourage submissions for presentations and panels focused on contemporary cultural, social and economic aspects of the Finnish Diaspora and the country’s impact on the on the world."

I hope that folks out there send in some art-based proposals! Some innovative methodologies! Some challenging progressive interdisciplinary work using critical theories. New ways of seeing. Provoking re-thinking....

not the tried and true.

Enough of the dusty corridors of a celebratory history or tradition. Finnish studies, as some of you may be aware, has not exactly been cutting edge nor progressive. Of course I am speaking in generalities, and there are exceptions (a conference held in Thunder Bay a few years back called Finnish Immigration During the Depression was great!). But it's not like any one who is not of Finnish descent is rushing to conferences on Finnish areas. That's one of the problems with Finns: exclusivity. Staying within safe, predicable areas and ideas. Tell me, why do Finns like to stay on familiar ground? While in the past some Finns challenged orthodoxies, I can't say that is the rule these days. More Finns ARE the orthodoxy, especially in Canada.


marja-leena said...

Oh, this does sound interesting... for Finns, like you say, but with a challenge to make it of interest to non-Finns. Hmmm, have to think on this one. Are you hoping to present something again, Taina?

northshorewoman said...

I think you should put something together! Your work must be shown to more people! Especially as your work draws on Finnish roots but is not reduced to that in any simplistic or predictable fashion. All your work has stories embedded in them, thus can be read as texts laden with histories and (cross)cultural meanings, never mind the techniques you use and your amazing eye! I am certainly hoping that other artists will contribute proposals so perhaps there can be a whole panel about contemporary art. The Finn Forum conferences draw people internationally (esp. from the US, Finland, and Sweden, as well as other countries, too, so it is a good venue, for sure, for someone like yourself.

I am not sure if I will present. That is up to whoever vets the proposals. Interestingly, I have presented at many conferences, numerous times in Europe and Canada, and the only time I've ever had a proposal rejected was for a Finn Forum in the US! I had to laugh. I really don't think the organizers of that one knew what to do with my proposal and my work, or what to make of my interdisciplinary way of approaching things. Power point of some history it was not. Anyway, I thought that was so funny because these Finnish conferences need more people involved with fresh ideas (and more young people and not the same old folks, as important as their contributions have been)--not less!! I may send a proposal if I get the time to ruminate on how best to focus my wide-ranging interests. There is a lot of work to do with local and regional Finnish issues, so who knows?

marja-leena said...

Wow, Taina, thanks so much for your wonderful and insightful observations about my work!!

So there are art exhibitions at these forums? Are there cultural programs like music, dance and theater? I presume that I need to make a proposal via the submissions procedure for presentations of papers? I am now quite intrigued, thanks to you!

And yes, it is odd that you were refused in the US! It seems to me that you are very knowledgeable and creative in you ideas and presentations. I hope you try for this and succeed!

northshorewoman said...

each conference has its own way of having stuff presented. The Finn Forum in Jyvaskyla screened some films as part of its program. I will contact a few of the committee members of the FF here and ask them some questions. I think your work would be a very interesting contribution.