Marja Tiilikainen

Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Description of research and teaching

I am interested in everyday Islam, cultural dimensions of health, illness and healing, transnational healing practices, and life of immigrant women and transnational families. My multidisciplinary research has focused especially on Somali immigrants, and I have conducted ethnographic research in Finland, Somaliland and Canada.  My PhD thesis (2003, published by Vastapaino) in comparative religion and medical anthropology was an ethnography on the everyday life of Somali women in Finland. Since then I have been working on and led a number of research projects, mostly funded by the Academy of Finland.

I am currently Academy Research Fellow working on a research project  Islam and Security Revisited: Transnational Somali Families in Finland, Canada and Somalia (2012-2017).

The research invesigates the experiences, construction and organization of human security in transnational Somali families. It will provide a comparative understanding of how Muslims in Europe, North America and the Horn of Africa experience and tactically live with insecurities and ambiguities related to being Somali Muslims, and how a sense of security is being created in the contexts of transnational families, everyday Islam and nation-state structures. The data will be collected through multi-sited ethnography in Helsinki, Toronto and Northern Somalia. The research will produce novel theoretical and empirical insights into the intersection of human security, Islam, migration, transnational families and national policies.

I currently lead two research projects: "Transnational Muslim Marriages: Wellbeing, Law, and Gender", funded by the Academy of Finland (2013-2017)", and "Young Muslims and Resilience: A Participatory Study", funded by Kone Foundation (2016-2018). Another research project that I led, "Somalis in Helsinki", which was part of a comparative international research project on the integration of Somali communities in seven European cities and which was funded by Open Society Foundations ended in 2013.

I am active in national and international research networks within Somali studies. I also closely collaborate with the Finnish Somalia Network, an umbrella organization aimed at supporting developmental projects in Somalia. For example, I am Editor of a trilingual, electronical journal Afrikan Sarvi (Afrikas Horn / Horn of Africa Journal), published by the Network.

I am frequently consulted and invited to lecture on topics related to migrant health, Muslims in Finland,  transnational Somali families and development in Somalia. I also teach at the university and supervise both graduate and PhD students.


Fields of Science

  • 5141 Sociology