Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen

Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Curriculum vitae


2013     Docent (habilitation), Latin American studies.

2007     PhD, Latin American Studies, University of Helsinki, Finland. 

2000   Master of Arts. University of Turku. Major in Comparative Religion and Philosophy. Minor in Development Studies, History, and Educational Sciences.

Most important posts

2016–    Professor (tenure track) in Indigenous Studies, University of Helsinki.

2020-21      Project leader "The Anthropocene in an onto-ethico-linguistic approach in Amazonia". UH Future Fund.

2016–21 Director for the last year and leading researcher in the project "Large-scale Subclimax in the Amazonian Lowland Forests due to PreColombian Deforestation", funded by the Academy of Finland. Reseach consortium of the University of Helsinki and University of Turku. 

2017–2019   Project leader "Indigenous Research Methods in Academia", funded by the Finnish Cultural Foundation. Nordic network of 20 researchers.

2016    Researcher in the project "Mind and the Other – An Interdisciplinary Study on the Interactions of Multiple Realities", funded by the Academy of Finland.

2015    Researcher in the project "United in Diversity: Monumental Landscapes, Regionality and Cultural Dynamism in Pre-Columbian Western Amazonia", funded by the Academy of Finland.

2014–2016   Project leader "Transforming the Future in Brazil: Ritual and Indigenous agencies". The project funded by the Research Funds of the University of Helsinki (3 year projects).

2013–2016   Member of the project Fabriq’Am (La fabrique des “patrimoines”: Mémoires, savoirs et politique en Amérique indienne aujourd’hui), funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche. Université Paris Oueste, Nanterre La Défense.

2015    Visiting scholar in the Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, Ljubljana.

2010–2014 Postdoctoral research project "New native leaderships and forms of power in Amazonia". University of Helsinki and the Centre EREA of LESC, Université de Paris Ouest – Nanterre la Défense. The project funded by the Academy of Finland.

2013  Project leader of "Creative Indigenous Actors: Integration of Indigenous Studies at the University of Helsinki", funded by the Faculty of Art’s Future Fund. Department of World Cultures, University of Helsinki, Finland.

(2012   Maternity leave)

2012–2013   Principal partner investigator in the bilateral research project "Movement and Spatial Construction" with the Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts.

(2011 Maternity leave)

2008–2010   Postdoctoral researcher, the Centre EREA (Enseignement et Recherche en Ethnologie Amérindienne) of Ethnology and Comparative Sociology Research Institute, Université de Paris Ouest – Nanterre la Défense, Paris. Personal post doctoral project "Multidimensional Tradition, Embodied Alterity and indigenous youth in Amazonia" funded by the Academy of Finland and the Kone Foundation.

2009 Teamleader in "Oral Tradition at Indigenous Schools in Amazonia" project with the Manchineri community and Pro-Indian Commission (Comissão Pró-Índio do Acre), Brazil. Joint Social Action funded by the Tokyo Foundation.

2005, 2008   Researcher in the project "Man and Nature in Western Amazonian history", funded by the Academy of Finland.

2007-2008   Researcher in the project "Cultural Systems, Folk Religion and Modernization in the Amazon", funded by the Academy of Finland.

2007  Project member in "Bridging the distance" –project among Oneida youth, Canada. Joint Social Action funded by the Tokyo Foundation.

Positions of trust and evaluator roles

  • Since 2020, Board member of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America.
  • Since 2011, Board member of the Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology.
  • Since 2019, Sustainability Self-steering Committee Member, UNA-Europa-EU.
  • Since 2019, Whitten Research Fund Committee member (and chair since 2020), Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America.
  • Since 2018, Board member of the Finnish Literature Society (SKS).
  • Since 2017, Steering Committee member of the HELSUS–Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science.
  • Since 2020, Board member of the Finnish Ibero-American Foundation.
  • Since 2018, Working group member of the Sámi Research Ethical Principles, Finland.
  • Since 2019, Teaching committee member, Faculty of Arts, University of Helsinki.
  • Since 2015, 2010–13, University of Helsinki Research Fund’s Sylff Steering Committee member.
  • 2007–2013 Chair person of the Sylff Alumni Association, UH.
  • Referee for academic journals and publishing houses (e.g. Current Anthropology, American Ethnologist, AlterNative: International Journal of Indigenous peoples, Journal of Environmental Policy & Planning, Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability, Bulletin of Latin American Research, Anthropological Quarterly, Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology, Journal of Adolescence, Journal of Postcolonial Linguistics, Revue Brésil(s): Sciences humaines et sociales (EHESS), Bulletin de l'Institut Français d'Etudes Andines (IFEA), Temenos: Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion, International Review of Education–Journal of Lifelong Learning, Journal of the Finnish Anthropologial Society, Kosmopolis, Amazônica: Revista de Antropologia (UFPA), Boletim do Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Art, Routledge.
  • Evalutor for the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research, Comisión del Área de Ciencias Sociales de la Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica de la Argentina, National Science Centre of Poland, Norwegian Research Council, University of Helsinki Research Funds.

Most important foreign research visits

  • Centre EREA (Enseignement et Recherche en Ethnologie Amérindienne), Ethnology and Comparative Sociology Research Institute/ Université de Paris Ouest – Nanterre la Défense, France, visiting scholar in 2008 and 2009.
  • Universidade de São Paulo, Department of Anthropology, Brazil, visiting scholar in 2007.
  • Universidade Federal do Acre, Brazil, several co-operation visits in 2003–2010.
  • University of Gdansk, 2019, visiting lecturer.
  • Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, visiting scholar in 2014, 2015, 2016.
  • University of Bremen 2015, visiting lecturer.

Awards and grants

2020    Finnish Cultural Foundation, Lapland Regional Fund

2020    University of Helsinki, Faculty of Humanities, Future Fund

2019    University of Helsinki, seed funding 

2017    Finnish Cultural Foundation, scientific collaboration grant (20 scholars involved)

2013    University of Helsinki, the Research Funds, 3-years project (PI + 3 PhD researchers)

2013    Faculty of Arts, the Future Funds 

2009    Academy of Finland, three years’ postdoctoral project

2008    Academy of Finland, research mobiity (France) and fieldwork grant (Brazil)

2008    Kone Foundation, research grant

2007    Bourse Legs Lelong, CNRS/France, research visit grant

2006    Sariola Foundation, research grant 

2005    Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Foundation (Sylff), University of Helsinki, research grant 

2004    Finnish Konkordia Fund, research grant

2003    Finnish National Cultural Foundation, research grant  

Memberships in science associations

  • Member of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association (NAISA)
  • Member of the American Anthropological Association (AAA)
  • Member of the European Association of Social Anthropologists (EASA)
  • Member of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America (SALSA)
  • Member of the Latin American Studies Associatin (LASA)
  • Member of the Finnish Society for Science and Technology Studies (STT)
  • Member of the Nordic Network for Gender Studies in Latin America (HAINA)
  • Member of the Finnish Anthropological Society
  • Member of the Société des Américanistes
  • Member of the Finnish Society for the Study of Religion
  • Member of the Helsinki Association of Researcher Women


  • Main supervisor for 6 doctoral candidates (Latin American Studies, Indigenous studies)
  • Minor supervisor of 8 doctoral candidates (Anthropology, Development studies, Sámi studies, Linguistics, Education, Sustainable business)
  • Supervisor of 14 master thesis (Latin American studies, Intercultural Encounters, Environmental change and global sustainability, Comprative Religion, Development studies, Geography)

Thesis and dissertation review tasks

  • Review of 5 doctoral dissertations (Federal University of Pará, University of Gothenburg, ISS at Hague, University of Brasília, Université de Paris Ouest) 
  • Reviewer of several master theses at the UH, Arctic University of Norway, Sámi University of Applied Sciences, Federal University of Pará

Fields of Science

  • 6160 Other humanities
  • 616 Other humanities
  • 5143 Social and cultural anthropology
  • 615 History and Archaeology

International and National Collaboration

Publications and projects within past five years.