Tuulikki Pietilä

Senior University Lecturer in Social and Cultural Anthropology, Uni of Helsinki, Docent, Uni of Helsinki, Valtiotieteen tohtori, sosiaaliantropologia, Dosentti, Helsingin yliopisto, Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS)

  • PL 18 (Unioninkatu 35)




Research activity per year

Personal profile

Description of research and teaching

Research interests:

Geographically I have specialized in researching Africa. Thematically I have examined societal processes that take place in the coming together of different regimes of economic and cultural value.

In Kilimanjaro, I investigated how women's trading activities and everyday gossip shaped gendered social order and cultural conceptions at the time of economic and political liberalization. This research was published as a book entitled Gossip, Markets, and Gender: How Dialogue Constructs Moral Value in Post-Socialist Kilimanjaro (University of Wisconsin Press, 2007). The book was awarded the Aidoo-Snyder book prize by the African Studies Association in the United States in 2009.

In South Africa, I investigated the existing music industry structures and practices as an entwinement of local and global music industry ideas of ownership and authorship. Futhermore, I studied the various modes of organizing creative labor and distributing monetary and social rewards from it. This research was published as a monograph entitled Contracts, Patronage and Mediation: The Articulation of Global and Local in the South African Recording Industry (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015).

My current research investigates the clothing and fashion industries and fashion designers in Tanzania and South Africa, with a focus on the designers’ position in the industries and their creation of economic and socio-cultural value as well as aesthetic taste and collective memory.

I am the PI in the project entitled "The Morality of Success among the Emerging Black Middle Class in South Africa". This Academy of Finland-funded project investigates avenues to upward mobility as well as concepts, values and practices related to success and prosperity among the emerging black middle class in South Africa. The project employs the post-doctoral researcher Ibrahim Abraham and the post-graduate student Bjørn Inge Sjødin.

In 2013-2016, I was the PI in the research project called “Youth Music and the Construction of Social Subjectivities and Communities in Post-Apartheid South Africa”. This was a comparative research on the  kinds of social subjectivities and forms of socio-political and economic empowerment that current youth music styles and culture industries enhance among South African youth. It was a joint project based at the University of Helsinki’s discipline of Social and Cultural Anthropology and South Africa’s Human Sciences Research Council. The funders of the project were the Academy of Finland and the National Research Foundation of South Africa. The included researchers were Benita Moolman, Ibrahim Abraham and Tuomas Järvenpää.

My earlier research projects include a study on African-originating World Music production chains in Europe (2003-2005), exploring the benefits and opportunities that accrue to the participants of the various value chains. This research was funded by the Danish SSF (Statens Samfundsvidenskabelige Forskningsråd, later FSE) and it was based at the Copenhagen Centre for Development Research (now Danish Institute for International Studies). The results of this study have been published in several research articles (see the list of my publications).


Curriculum vitae


Academic posts and positions

Lecturer, Social and Cultural Anthropology, Uni of Helsinki, 2002 -

PI in the Academy of Finland research project "The Morality of Success among the Emerging Black Middle Class in South Africa", 2016-2020

PI in the Academy of Finland research project “Youth Music and the Construction of Social Subjectivities and Communities in Post-apartheid South Africa”, 2013-2016

Academy Research Fellow, Academy of Finland, 2008 - 2013

Researcher, Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen, 2003 - 2005

Senior Assistant, Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki, 2001 - 2002

Visiting researcher, African Studies Center, Boston University, 2000 - 2001

Project researcher, Finnish Foreign Ministry, 1999 – 2000 


Awards and nominations

Aidoo-Snyder Prize  (African Studies Association, USA) for the book “Gossip, Markets, and Gender”, 2009

Shortlisted for the Best social scientific publication (Tiedekynä 2017) for the article “Syödä, Juoda ja Ruokkia: Sukulaisuus- ja Muut Suhteet Kilimanjarolla” (”Eating, Drinking and Feeding: The Creation of Kinship and Other Relations in Kilimanjaro”), artikkeli löytyy täältä: https://www.koneensaatio.fi/wp-content/uploads/Pietila_Syoda_juoda_ruokkia_SKS.pdf

 Shortlisted in the competition for the Best science photograph, arranged by TSV (The Federation of Finnish Learned Societies), 2019


Organized conferences and seminars

  • "Hip Hop Studies: Global and Local" (with Antti-Ville Kärjä of the Finnish Youth Research Society & Network and the Finnish Jazz and Pop Archive), 13.9.2014

  • "Stuggle and Style: African Youth Cultures Today", Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki, 12.9.2014

  • Seminar on "Youth and Music", Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Helsinki, 21.10.2013

  • "Music and Institutions" (with Risto Pekka Pennanen), Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 9.-10.12.2010

  • “Globality, Locality and Contact – Language and Culture” (with Anneli Meurman-Solin and Matti Miestamo), Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, 17.-18.11.2008

  • African Studies Seminar Series (with Jeremy Gould), University of Helsinki,  Jan - June 2008; continued in September 2016 -
  • "World Music and the Global Music Industry", Danish Institute for International Studies, Copenhagen, 19.-20.8.2005

  • "Private Sector Promotion in Developing Countries", Finnish Foreign Ministry and the Institute for Development Studies, Helsinki, 9.-10.12.1999


    Language skills

    - Finnish: mother tongue

    - English and KiSwahili: fluent

    - Swedish and German: good

Fields of Science

  • 5143 Social and cultural anthropology
  • Africa
  • Marketplaces
  • Morality
  • Gender
  • Music industry
  • Fashion designers
  • World music
  • African youth music
  • Value(s)
  • Trading
  • Tanzania
  • South Africa