Photo of Hanna Snellman

Hanna Snellman


  • PL 3 (Fabianinkatu 33)



Accepting PhD Students

1985 …2018
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Personal profile

Curriculum vitae

Description of research and teaching

The Academy of Finland funded "Happy Days" 2011-2015 (PI Hanna Snellman) had two objectives: to discuss the concept of nostalgia and deconstruct the nostalgia related to1950s by providing a more complex picture of the era. The project idea is also to problematize the established way of viewing the 20th century as certain epochs. In our research the 1950s did not start in 1950 and end in 1959, but it started right after the Second World War and lasted until the 1960s, even 1970s. We have thus created a concept extended 1950s to discuss that phenomenon. Members of the International Scientific Advisory Board have also read and commented work in progress in our annual seminars. Research results will be published in 2016 in a special issue of the Journal of Finnish Studies (REF), published in the United States.

The project has succeeded in developing the concept of nostalgia in a more theoretical level and creating a new concept, the extended 1950s. The researchers engaged in the Happy Days project all found multiple voices from the research materials, including less pleasant memories. They came to the conclusion that nostalgia is often attached to topics and periods of time that are linked to a certain amount of struggle and misery, and above all contradictions. The 1950s feeds nostalgia because of the contradictions in people’s experiences and because of the need to take distance from past events and conditions.

In the previous research, the adoption of trousers into women’s dress has been seen as a sign of progress that took place in the 1970s. Arja Turunen’s study shows that it took longer; the dress codes of the 1950s were  basically the middle class dress codes that, first of all, were adopted in the Finnish society at large from the 1920s to 1950s and  they’ve been followed ever since although the new informal dress code has replaced it in some cases since the 1970s. This challenges the theories and assumptions of how, and to what extent, the Finnish society has changed since the 1950s. Turunen’s research also shows that there are many stories and images of the 1950s, and secondly, the  version that is based on the nostalgic longing is a counter-story to  the story of the modernization. Both stories have political aspects and consequences, and in her articles that are now in the making Turunen discusses, what are these aspects and consequences.

In her sub-project and its publications Eerika Koskinen-Koivisto highlights the constructive and critical dimension of nostalgia. Nostalgic narratives of disappearing industrial community of one female laborer entail metaphors which point towards meaningful values such as togetherness. In her narration, certain sites become nostalgic symbols of abstract changes.

Women are also studied in Lena Marander-Eklund’s sub-study:  Her research on house wives has resulted in several articles and a book manuscript which has been accepted to be published by the Swedish Literature Society in Finland in 2014. Narratives of women are discussed in the context of the changing society of the extended 1950s: home making, marriage and professionalizing of women’s work deconstruct the nostalgic way of seeing the 1950s.

Hanna Snellman’s research discusses Finnish immigrants in Sweden. Inspired by performance theory she discusses how museum curators of the 1970s were trapped in nostalgia when doing fieldwork among Finnish immigrants in urban locations of Sweden. For them Finnish immigrants were supposed to be rural, poor and nostalgic towards the 1950s Finland they had left. In a way they were or at least they were performing 50s:ness in order to please the museum curators.

In her article Laura Hirvi explores the life and work of Finnish and Berlin based artist Juhani Seppovaara. The article highlights the stylistic devices by the help of which a sense of nostalgia emerges out of Seppovaara's books. In the part that follows, she looks at the ways in which Arjun Appadurai's term of "armchair nostalgia" can be put to a new use to refer to a reader's nostalgic feelings that arise when reading a book but have no grounds in the reader's actual lived experience or her collective historical memory. The article argues that nostalgia is in the case of Seppovaara's book, is a feeling that is produced in complicity with the reader. This article brings to the fore new nuances in the production of nostalgia for Finland in the past. It is also a path breaking experiment in collaborative ethnography.

Leena Paaskoski’s article focuses on the questions of vocational choice, education and occupation of forestry employees in post-WWII Finland. An extensive oral history material, biographical interviews with the Finnish forestry officers and foresters, is given in order to illuminate the concepts of family capital and upward social mobility at the individual everyday level. In Finland occupations in forestry are often inherited. The sons of forestry employees profit from family capital as they become forestry employees themselves, and there are many so-called “forestry families” in Finland. Because the situation in Finland after the war strongly favored education, young men were encouraged to educate themselves in the hope of obtaining an economically and socially better future and in order to get more skilled workers for society. Social upward mobility, getting more occupational prestige and higher socio-economic positions compared to their fathers, was typical for these forestry employees, as well as the whole Finnish society in the extended 1950s.

In his sub-project Simo Laakkonen has created a concept environmental nostalgia. He concluded that also this concept was used in a contradictory manner in the discourses of  nature conservation and environmental protection. Laakkonen’s article on urban environmental history of children (2011) seems to be the first empirical study in this topic in the world, so far. It shows that contemporary computer games are to a high extent beased on unconscious nostalgy of past urban childhood environments.

The project also had an objective to enhance institutional co-operation with the academia and memory organizations. That has succeeded extremely well. Our research project represents a model of fruitful cross-institutional cooperation between universities and museums. Throughout our project, scholars and museum professionals met at various workshops to facilitate interdisciplinary research. The collaborative partners included the Finnish Labour Museum Werstas, the Finnish Museum of Agriculture Sarka, and the Finnish Forest Museum Lusto. This collaboration culminated in the exhibition Fields, Forests, Factories that opened in September 2013 in Werstas, Tampere. The members of the project were all involved in planning the exhibition from the very beginning. In addition, international scholars working in museums and university departments of ethnology were invited to join the advisory board that gathered once a year to comment on how the project was proceeding. This is the first time almost in a century that such co-operation with scientific ambitions has taken place. The collaboration between memory organizations and researchers of the project has also resulted in new research projects and it paves a way to future collaboration in documentation, research and public engagement. 

All research data used in this project, narratives, photos, and museum objects, are already filed by memory organizations. Researchers have followed the ethical guidelines established by the museums and archives.


Fields of Science

  • 6160 Other humanities

International and National Collaboration Publications and projects within past five years.

Publications 1985 2018

Heritage Sites of Death

Snellman, H. K., 1 Oct 2018, In : Ethnologia Scandinavica. 2018, 48, p. 241 1 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalLiterature review (scientific)Scientific

Intohimoinen tutkija

Snellman, H. K., Oct 2018, Professori Jussi Pakkasvirta Presente. Comité Clandestino, p. 253 254 p.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterGeneral public


Snellman, H. K., Halmari, H., Kaukonen, S. & Virtanen, H-J., 1 Nov 2018, (Accepted/In press) "Let Us Be Finns", The Era before Finland's Independence. . Texas, Yhdysvallat, Vol. 2018. p. 1-14 14 p. 1. (Journal of Finnish Studies; vol. 2018, no. Vol. 21, Nr. 1 & 2 ).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

"Let Us Be Finns". The Era before Finland's Independence.

Snellman, H. K. (ed.), Halmari, H. (ed.), Kaukonen, S. (ed.) & Virtanen, H-J. (ed.), Nov 2018, (Accepted/In press) 251 p. Texas, Yhdysvallat : Journal of Finnish Studies.

Research output: Other contribution

Satunnaisesti Suomessa: Kalevalaseuran vuosikirja 97

Snellman, H. K. (ed.), Lamberg, M. (ed.) & Piela, U. (ed.), 25 Oct 2018, Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura. 325 p. (Kalevalaseuran vuosikirja; vol. 2018, no. 97)

Research output: Book/ReportBookScientificpeer-review

Projects 2010 2016

Ylirajainen kuolema

Snellman, H.

29/04/2016 → …

Project: Research project

Ylirajainen kuolema

Snellman, H.

29/04/2016 → …

Project: Research project

Recipes for a Better Life

Snellman, H.

13/05/2015 → …

Project: Other project


hopeinen ansiomerkki: ansiomerkki toiminnasta

Hanna Snellman (Recipient), 16 Mar 2016

Prize: Prizes and awards

Kkultainen ansiomerkki

Hanna Snellman (Recipient), 15 Mar 2019

Prize: Prizes and awards

Suomen Valkoisen Ruusun Ritarikunnan I Luokan Ritarimerkki

Hanna Snellman (Recipient), 6 Dec 2018

Prize: Prizes and awards

Activities 2010 2019

Taidesäätiö Pro Arte Foundation Finland (External organisation)

Hanna Snellman (Board member)
Jun 2019 → …

Activity: Membership typesMembership or other role in national/international committee, council, board

SIEF Executive Board (Event)

Hanna Snellman (Board member)
16 Apr 2019 → …

Activity: Membership typesMembership or other role in national/international committee, council, board

University of Wisconsin

Hanna Snellman (Visiting researcher)
29 Jul 201913 Aug 2019

Activity: Visiting an external institution typesAcademic visit to other institution

1st UNICA-IAU Master Class on Internationalization of Higher Education

Hanna Snellman (Attendee)
9 Apr 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Talks

1st UNICA-IAU Master Class on Internationalization of Higher Education

Hanna Snellman (Attendee)
7 Apr 201910 Apr 2019

Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesOrganisation and participation in conferences, workshops, courses, seminars

Press / Media

Tusina tavaraa Suomesta 8/12 Ruotsinlaiva

Hanna Snellman


1 item of media coverage

Press/Media: Press / Media

Ruotsiin muutti huippuvuosina yli 40 000 suomalaista

Hanna Snellman


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media

haastattelu painetussa mediassa: Antaa pölkyn juosta!

Hanna Snellman


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media

haastattelu painetussa mediassa: Lähtisinkö lehmäleirille?

Hanna Snellman


1 media contribution

Press/Media: Press / Media