Lippu, uhri, kansakunta: ryhmäkokemukset ja -rajat Suomessa 1917-1945

Tutkimustuotos: OpinnäyteVäitöskirjaMonografia


The Flag, Sacrifice and the Nation: Collective Experiences and Group Boundaries in Finland, 1917–1945

This dissertation deals with the notions of sacrifice and violence in connection to the Finnish flag struggles in 1917–1945. The study begins with a basic idea that sacrificial thought is a key element in nationalism and social cohesion of large groups. The method used in the study combines anthropological notions of totemism and psychoanalytical object relation theory. The aim is to explore the social and psychological factors of the national flag and the workers’ flags in the times of crisis and nation building. Addressed phenomena and concepts include self-sacrifice, scapegoating, remembrance of war, inclusion, and exclusion.
The research is located in the intersection of cultural history of war and nationalism studies. The analysis is based on the press debates, public speeches and archival sources of the civic organizations promoting the Finnish flag culture. In addition, reminiscences collections and e.g. popular poetry is examined with a view to reveal popular attitudes towards the flag question. The study is empirically divided into three sections which are 1. the years of the Revolution and the Civil War (1917–1918), 2. the interwar period (1919–1939), and 3. the Second World War (1939–1945).
The research demonstrates that modern national flags and workers’ flags maintain certain characteristics of ’primitive’ totems. When referred to as a totem the flag is an emotionally charged symbol, the container of the collective ideals of the large group. Thus the flag culture and disputes offer a path to explore the perceptions and memory of sacrifice and violence in the making of the ’First Republic’. Any given large group, e.g. a nation, must conceptually pursue a consensus over their past sacrifices. Without productive meaning sacrifice is meaningless violence. By looking at the flag passions the study also illuminates various group identities, boundaries and border crossings within the society.
The study shows that the dividing violence of the Civil War was first overcome in the late 1930s when the social democrats adopted a new perception of the Red victims of 1918 as the birth pains of the nation, not only the martyrs of the class struggle. At the same time the radical Right became marginalized. The study also illuminates how this lead to the possibility of the ”Spirit of the Winter War”, a genuine albeit brief experience of horizontal sisterhood, and how this spirit was reflected in the Finnish flag. The experience was not based only on the external and unifying threat. The experience was grounded in unifying sacrifice which reflected a novel way of understanding the nation and its past sacrifices. Paradoxically, the forged consensus of the necessity and productivity of the common sacrifices of the Winter War made new sacrifices (and thus violence) possible during the Continuation War. In spite of political discord and war-weariness, the concept of a unified nation under the national flag survived even the meaninglessness of the stationary war. It can be characterized that the conflict between the idea of a national community and parliamentary party politics was dissolved as the result of the collective experience of the Second World War.
Painoksen ISBN978-952-92-8330-9
TilaJulkaistu - 2011
OKM-julkaisutyyppiG4 Tohtorinväitöskirja (monografia)

Lisätietoja väitöskirjasta

Väittely 26.2.2011.


  • 615 Historia ja arkeologia
  • Suomen historia
  • sodan kulttuurihistoria
  • uhri
  • symbolit
  • sisällissota 1918
  • sotien välinen aika
  • toinen maailmansota
  • talvisota
  • jatkosota
  • nationalismi
  • liput
  • totemismi
  • sankarivainajat

Siteeraa tätä