Petra Kuivala

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Personal profile

Description of research and teaching

Petra Kuivala, Doctor of Theology, is a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Department of Cultures, Faculty of Arts, at the University of Helsinki. She also holds an appointment as an Associate at the Department of History, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, at Harvard University (United States).

Previously, Kuivala has worked as a doctoral and postdoctoral researcher at the Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki (2014-2021). In 2016-2017, she held an appointment as a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at the Cuban Research Institute, Steven J. Green School of International and Public Affairs, at Florida International University. She has received fellowships and research grants from the Academy of Finland, University of Helsinki, the Lutheran World Federation, The Osk. Huttunen Foundation, Finnish Cultural Foundation, Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, Aune Vappula Fund, and The Research Center of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Finland.

Dr. Kuivala's research and teaching intersect with the study of religion, history, Cuban studies, and Latin American studies, addressing Christianity in the Americas, with a particular focus on religion in Cuba, the Cuban Revolution, and socialist society.

Kuivala's dissertation (2019), Never a Church of Silence: The Catholic Church in Revolutionary Cuba, 1959-1986, focused on Catholicism in socialist Cuba, drawing on archival and oral sources as well as ethnographic work conducted in Cuba. During the fieldwork for her dissertation, Dr. Kuivala became the first scholar to access previously unstudied archives of the Catholic Church in Cuba, working on classified sources dating to the revolutionary period. In total, she perused more than 40,000 pages of previously unexplored documents in nine Cuban archives.

Most recently, Kuivala has written about religious material culture and lived religion in Cuba, and religious moral authority confronting totalitarian state power in Latin America. Her articles have been published in, among others, Cuban Studies, Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, and the International Journal of Cuban Studies. Kuivala is also the Editor-in-Chief of The Yearbook of the Finnish Society of Church History.

Dr. Kuivala's current research project, The Revolution, Religion, and Social Experience in Cuba, 1961–1991, funded by the Academy of Finland, analyzes the intersections of vernacular religion and lived experience in the social histories of the Cuban Revolution.

Since 2013, Kuivala has taught BA and MA level courses in church history and systematic theology at the Faculty of Theology and the Open University of the University Helsinki. The topics explored in her teaching include the methodology of historical research, religion in Latin America, as well as the contextual and constructive theologies of the Global South. Engaging the general public, Kuivala has also lectured on the history of Cuba and the Cuban Revolution at Helsinki Community College as well as appeared in print media, radio, and television as an expert on Cuba and Cuba-US relations.

Education/Academic qualification

Theology and Religious Studies, Doctor of Theology, University of Helsinki

Award Date: 10 Dec 2019

Theology, Master of Theology, University of Helsinki

Fields of Science

  • 614 Theology
  • Church History
  • 999 Others
  • Cuban Studies
  • 615 History and Archaeology