Research Projects

Unequal War (UnWar): Vulnerability, Stress and Survival in the Finnish Army during World War II

Funded by the Research Council of Finland 2023-2027

Researchers: Ville Kivimäki (PI), Virva Liski and Ilari Taskinen

The research project investigates the social composition of the Finnish Army in World War II, the changes hereby, as well as the Finnish soldiers’ socio-economic and health-related pre-war background variables. From this basis we will analyze how different war experiences, injuries, stress and fatalities were distributed among the soldiers. We will examine how (un)evenly the war burden affected different groups of people and what kind of consequences this had both for individuals and for the whole society. We will also study private service paths and how they were connected to a person’s survival in war. Our most important empirical data consists of an internationally unique, representative and detailed database of the Finnish men who served in the army in 1939–45. The project will be a basis for future longitudinal research, which will study the influence of different war experiences to the soldiers’ and their relatives’ and offspring’s post-war life courses.

Project website:

How did Finland manage to avoid witch hunts? Action and experience in de-escalating persecution

Funded by the Research Council of Finland 2023-2027

Researchers: Raisa Toivo (PI), Tiina Miettinen & Marko Lamberg

The project investigates how different actors in early modern Finland sought to and managed (or failed) to prevent the escalation of rumours of witchcraft into trials and trials into hunts and persecution. The results are then compared to previous reserach on both persecution and any efforts to avoid persecution elsewhere in Lutheran Europe. The project uses court records as its main materials, with both statistical and qualitative (narratological, history of experience and lived histories) methods.

A Dim Light of Dawn: Finnish Post-Cold War Experiences Between East and West, 1989–1995

Funded by the Research Council of Finland 2021–2025

Researchers: Tuomas Tepora (PI), Aapo Roselius & Sinikka Selin

The aim of the project is to analyze the history of experiences in early-1990s Finnish society during a major change that concerned all the sections of the society. One of the defining characteristics of a social change is the uncertainty about the future, a liminal experience. The project studies how these uncertainties, expectations and fears manifested in the lives of the citizens and what means people adopted to share and cope with the events of the time. The time frame of the study, 1989–1995, ends in the 1995 enlargement of the European Union. It approaches the topic from three interconnected perspectives, all of which are united by the experience of change. Three themes are: economic depression, neo-patriotism and the European integration.


Lived religion in medieval Finland

Funded by Svenska Litteratursällskapet i Finland (Swedish literature society in Finland) 2021–2024  

Researchers: Sari Katajala-Peltomaa (PI), Marika Räsänen, Sofia Lahti & Anna-Stina Hägglund

The lived religion in medieval Finland -project starts with the premise of religion as a dynamic social process that both requires and creates active participation, emotions and experiences. Religion is seen as a way to interact and participate (with)in a community – as a performative space. The main focus of the project is on the interaction with a saint (the Virgin Mary, Saints Anna, Henrik and Birgitta). Saints’ cults and interaction with a saint were a hallmark of medieval European culture, they were both local and translocal. The project provides a new overview of a theme that has so far received less attention from scholars. The sources used by the project include liturgical manuscripts, sermons and wills, as well as various artifacts associated with the saints. The new methodology applied by the project enables a contribution to international academic discussions on lived religion and religious practices. The project will also produce material for a Nordic database, which will enable a more profound comparative and Poject Website analysis in the future.

Poject Website


Lived Religion and the Changing Meaning(s) of Disability from the Late Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution

Funded by the Academy of Finland 2021–2025

Researchers: Jenni Kuuliala (PI), Riikka Miettinen & Daniel Blackie.

The project concentrates on the significance of Christian lived religion in understanding and experiencing disability, analysing the ways religious rituals, views, and practices framed and shaped bodily and mental difference. By emphasising religion as a lived experience and taking a longue durée approach to disability history from the Late Middle Ages / Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution (c. 1450–1850), this project is the first-ever social history of disability to range across traditional periodisations to examine the significance of religious beliefs and practices to the emergence of disability as a social category of modernity. In doing so, the project also evaluates the ways in which the major cultural transformations of this period impacted the role and relative importance of religion as a framework shaping conceptions and experiences of disability. Experience is an important approach and analytical tool in the analysis. As the project is particularly focusing on lived religion, it is clearly linked with one of HEX’s main points of interest.

Project Website


Translocalis project

Funded by Alfred Kordelin Foundation 2021–2023 (Major Culture Project Grant)

Researchers: Heikki Kokko (PI), research assistants

The phenomenon of letters to newspapers developed into a nationwide and pervasive culture of local letters in the mid-1800s Finnish-language press. A characteristic feature of this culture was that the readers’ letters published in the press were written in the names of local communities. “Local letters” often told about every day local things that had happened in some parish. Usually, the topics included information about yields, the state of health of the inhabitants and curious incidents. However, there was also more general discussion about social reforms and abstract reasoning on topics like for example, what is society, nation or publicity. The writers of the letters came from the wide spectrum of the society. There are hundreds of identified writers that were either peasants or came from the lower social layer. Therefore, the letters are a good source for ‘history-from-below’ approach. Indeed, the local letters are the first larger source of this kind in the Finnish-speaking culture. They represent the voices of early civic society in Finland. Translocalis project will carry out research on the nationwide phenomenon of readers’ letters in the 19th century Finnish-language press and publish a digital open-access database of the readers’ letters in cooperation with the National Library of Finland.


Digital History and Handwritten Sources: Digitization, Machine-Reading and Historical Analysis of Wartime Letters (DIGIKÄKI)

Funded by the Jalmari Finne Foundation 2020–2023

Researchers: Ville Kivimäki (PI), Ilari Taskinen, Risto Turunen and Lauri Uusitalo

In the DIGIKÄKI research project, we have developed a Transkribus model for the digital recognition of Finnish handwriting from the 1940s . Our data comprises of the largest single corpus of personal writings in Finland, the wartime letter collection of the Tampere University Folklife Archives: about 60,000 letters from 1939–45. We are analyzing the letters using new digital humanities research methods. Digitized letters will allow, for the first time, to study quantitatively how ordinary people’s verbal and emotional expression changed during the war years of 1939-45. The data will also enable to study more general questions in digital historiography and in the social and cultural history of experiencing war.

Project website


Biography as a method for early modern history

Funded by Jalmari Finne foundation

Researchers: Raisa Toivo (PI), Tiina Miettinen, Jenni Lares & Mari Välimäki

The project seeks to answer those questions by looking at 1) historiography, or how biographies have been used to write early modern history, 2) on a re-conceptualising level, or how we think biographies should evolve to be useful for historical ressearch on the early modern period today and in the future and  3) with sample case studies.

Follow  in twitter: Jacobina Munsterhjelm, a 13-year old girl’s diary 1799. @JMunsterhjelm ,

Interested in reading more? See our webpage in Finnish,