Elore 1/2003, 10. vuosikerta
Julkaisija: Suomen Kansantietouden Tutkijain Seura ry., Joensuu
ISSN 1456-3010, URL: http://cc.joensuu.fi/~loristi/1_03/lat103b.html
E-mail:loristi (at) cc.joensuu.fi

Folklore Fellows Summer School 2002 in Finland

Personal recollections by Suzanne MacAulay (New Zeland), Johanna Micaela Jacobsen (USA), Xiaohui Hu (China), Annamari Iranto (Finland), Ezekiel Alembi (Kenya) and Pauliina Latvala (Finland)

The sixth Folklore Fellows' Summer School was held at Lammi Research Station from July 15th to 24th , 2002. The participants were mostly post-graduate students in the field of folkloristics. The training course enabled them to spend two intense weeks with other researchers. This time, the general theme of the FFSS was Memory, Recollection and Creativity. The first lecture was delivered by Academy Professor Anna-Leena Siikala on "Ethnic/National Traditions in the Age of Globalisation". During the summer school, the participants had a chance to listen many interesting lectures, for example: "A World of Nations: Folklore, Heritage Politics, and Ethnic Diversity in Four Countries" held by professor Barbro Klein (Sweden), "Culture for the People and Culture of the People" by professor Diarmuid Ó Giolláin (Ireland) and "The Politics of Collecting and Exhibiting Sami Folklore and Culture" by Stein Mathisen (Norway). Some of the participants have kindly written down some of their memories from the FFSS 2002.

Suzanne MacAulay: Recollection and Reflection

In a curious twist of space and season I am now writing about the 2002 Summer School at the apogee of summer here in the southern hemisphere. Memories of nocturnal birds flying through the Finnish daylight flow smoothly into the real heat and lingering light of this antipodal summer. It is easy to recall the gentle watery-green landscape around Lammi and place it in perspective as the backdrop against which we discussed, critiqued, differed, assented, cogitated, challenged, meditated and imagined. Our daily responses to folklore practice were probably even more varied because of our diverse origins, Scandinavia, North America, Asia, Russia, Europe, the Baltic countries, Africa and Australia. Summer School's opening theme of globalization suited us well.

The mood of Summer School was initially sobered by news of a sequence of deaths of three eminent folklorists including Lauri Honko, Vice Chair of the 2002 FFSS. The impact of this trebled loss left us all feeling, collectively, somewhat bruised. However, with the emphasis on inclusivity and discussion this year, the school's structure, in fact, lent itself to the adjustments of grief. Soon the dynamics of the group took over and eased us into a pattern of debate and inquiry that would mark our time together. This was further stabilized by the creation of regular discussion groups where teachers and participants formed micro-sites of critical dialogue each afternoon.

This year's themes of globalization, heritage politics, memory, creativity and narrative were particularly timely. These are natural topics for folklore and the Summer School platform of presentation (and riposte) showed just how important the folklore discipline can be to scholarship on current transnational trends as well as maintain its classic involvement with oral traditions. Several papers also interrogated the "zone" of heritage politics from UNESCO conventions to regional museums while a surprising footnote to one presentation offered a glimpse of folklore as political agenda. In this case, a liberation army had "requisitioned" (i.e., kidnapped) a folklorist to teach the insurgents about their myths and legends in order to strengthen their solidarity and commitment to their tribal affiliations.

In the end, our time together, our rapport, and our differences were in sync because we managed to achieve a dynamic balance dependent on breadth of spirit and replenishing curiosity. Maori in Aotearoa/New Zealand symbolized this kind of "active" equilibrium through the notion of the Three Baskets of Knowledge – receptacles for the diverse energies of peace, ritual and war. It is this kind of diversity-in-balance that most accurately represents the potent wisdom gained from our Summer School experience in 2002. Arohanui, Suzanne.

Suzanne MacAulay, Professor
Quay School of the Arts
Nez Zealand
smacaula (at) ihug.co.nz

Anna-Leena Siikala and Lauri Harvilahti by the bonfire. Photo Pirkko Hämäläinen.

Johanna Micaela Jacobsen: 'They do real Folklore in Finland…'

Sitting in Dr. Alan Dundes' graduate seminar at the University of California, Berkeley, a 20 year old who had just recently fallen in love with the discipline of Folkloristics, I remember hearing about the Folklore Fellows Summer School for the very first time in what must have been the spring of 1998. 'Anyone who is a real folklorists should go to Finland for the Summer School,' he said, raising his eyebrows. 'They do real Folklore in Finland. It would be an invaluable experience.'

We had been presented with a goal towards which to strive, but the opportunity to head to Lammi, Finland only presented itself to me in the Summer of 2002. And now, six months after what was truly an intense, academically rigorous, personally rewarding experience, I am sitting in the midwestern prairies of Illinois, reflecting on the experience that was FFSS2002, themed 'Memory, Recollection and Creativity'.

I could talk about the journey to get there, though mine is inconsequential in comparison to Xiaohui Hu's, Suzanne Mac Auley's and Desmond Kharmawphlang's travels from China, New Zealand, and India, respectively. I could talk at leisure about the beauty of the Finnish landscape that captured our imaginations in different ways: walks through the woods, a post-sauna swim (pure bliss), sitting out at night by a crackling and smoky fire, amazed that it was still light when reason would suggest that it should be dark. I could talk, as well, about external cultural experience that were both enlightening and rich: trips to Lammi to see both museums and churches, learning or observing the tango both in the dancehall and at fireside, drinking sahti ('it goes to the knees,' as Ezekiel and the rest of us joked about for days) and somehow managing to piece together the words to 'Satumaa' (which probably did not resemble Finnish in the remotest!), although for some of us the meaning remained beautifully elusive. All of these certainly were a part of our summer, but are only part and parcel of a larger encounter.

Thus, as a set of reflections to encapsulate the FFSS2002 experiences, I will return to Alan Dundes' statement, which I began with: 'They do real Folklore in Finland. It would be an invaluable experience.' Experiencing the Folklore Fellow Summer School will thematize the rest of these reflections, a discussion, which weaves in expectations and anticipations of the deeply intellectual and social ten days in Lammi.

I did not know what to expect of the Summer School while I waited at London Heathrow's Terminal One, or was it Terminal Two, passing the time by drinking cups upon cups of coffee to stay awake for just a few more hours. But what fascinated me the most, as much about Heathrow as about the following days in Lammi, was the amalgam of people from all over the world, with vastly different knowledge, interests, and objectives. I did not know what to expect: would we get along as a group? Did that matter, for an intellectual endeavor? Could we sustain an intellectual conversation across research interests, for two weeks? The answer, as I see it in retrospect, is a resounding yes. Overlapping research interests coupled with unique specialization, and a desire on everyone's part to really listen and learn from each other, made the FFSS what it was.

Arriving at Lammi unsure of what to expect, I was faced with an amazing international crew of students and faculty, with such a diverse set of interests, that the combined knowledge in our seminar room was truly unique. When else is it possible to have a set of bright individuals in one room, with interests as distinctive as the 'ecological Saami,' notions of Copy/Right, and Abanyole Worldview, all within a global/local contextualizing framework?

As such, there was also some frustration: despite this breadth of knowledge and certain intellectual overlap, our conversations made me realize how nationally grounded our discipline really is, and how closed-minded in many ways. What small, minute conversations we carry and carried on with our colleagues, in oblivion of similar research published in a different language, produced by a different group of scholars who do not communicate with one another! Although we have many overarchingly similar research interests, dialogues across national borders are rare. Such dialogues were, however, enabled by the FFSS2002.

Especially as a student of Folkloristics in the US, where international cooperation is not stressed (as it is, wrongly so, frequently assumed that there is not need for such cooperation), this lesson was invaluable for me. This problem of communication and cooperation was thus an exciting experience: how much is there to be gained, however, from the benefits of international cooperation! The small forum of the Summer School was the perfect site to create the beginnings of such academic and personal connections. And it is, I believe, the friendships that arise that really cement academic relationships.

The experience of the international, a wholly positive one, was offset by the experience of deep-rooted change, a difficult and arduous task especially for the faculty, but also for the international discipline/community as a whole. While new scholars met, talked, sustained conversations over dinner, the tragic loss of three folklorists within one week remained a heavy cloud over the Summer School: Lauri Honko, Lea Virtanen, and Alan Lomax, all movers and shakers of the discipline, passed away within days of each other. A strange constellation, seeing a younger generation blossoming in the company of leaders of the discipline, while experiencing the loss of three key figures who had shaped the international discipline of Folkloristics into what it is now. Perhaps the very fact that we all were partaking in the Summer School at that time allowed and created a stronger cohesiveness, an internalized mission to maintain and sustain the vision created by such scholars as Honko, Virtanen and Lomax.

When I think back to last summer, to the long days and long nights of discussions and laughter, I am glad to have been a part of the unique constellation of FFSS2002. It is an institution and endeavour, which resounds vigorously with its international reputation, at one of the hearts of European Folklore Studies, allowing for the development and fostering of ideas, friendships, and ultimately a more transnational discipline.

Johanna Micaela Jacobsen, MA
University of Pennsylvania,
Department of Folklore
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
johannaj (at) sas.upenn.edu

The discussion kept going on. Taisto Raudalainen explaining his view to Xiaohui Hu. Photo Saara Paatero.

Hu Xiaohui: Not A Piece of Cake

I was selected to participate in the sixth Folklore Fellows' Summer School course! When I heard the news, I was so glad and exited, because I am studying the intercultural dialogues of folkloristic theories and method, which is a key project of our institute. Here comes a real opportunity to dialogue cross-culturally. Few years ago, I have known that the FFSS is one of the best ways to train young scholars around the world and engender true intercultural dialogue.

In recent years, I read a lot of English books and published several academic translations, so when I was informed that "All participants must have a good command of English, since this is the language of the Folklore Fellows' Summer School" I was sure of myself –It's a snap, I think. But when the FFSS began, I found I had made a mistake –It is not a piece of cake for me. I felt difficult to follow some lecturers' speech especially when he or she speaks rapidly. Most unfortunately, I found that even some everyday words I didn't know how to speak in English. It was my first time to go abroad and attend the international course. I realized that reading and translating are not equal to speaking and listening in a foreign language. I am used to Chinese mode of thought and my English is deaf-mute English to a great extend, since in my homeland I have little opportunity to speak or listen in English. But this time I made my mind to improve m y English speaking and listening capability. I focused attention to every lecture and presentation. After the course and discussion. I looked for every opportunity to talk with the teachers and other participants. When they knew that I could not follow their fast speech, some teachers told me they would speak slowly next time, and some participants gave me copies of their presentations. I was deeply touched by their kindness and helpfulness. So even English is, as Diarmuid Ó Giolláin mentioned in his lecture, an imperialistic language, I think we do need it as a common language to communicate with each other. I don't want to be a nationalist, and I should practice much to speak and listen freely in English.

When I could follow and understand more and more, the end of the course also was nearer and nearer. What a pity for me! But the Summer School really was a wonderful and memorable time for me, not only because it gave me a chance to improve my oral English and I have learnt a lot of new ideas and different interpretations in folklore studies, but also because it was a mini-global village which could promote interaction and mutual understanding among teachers and participants representing different cultural regions in the world. It added insights, friendship, flowers, smiles, songs, and so forth to my memory. It gave me 'memory, recollection, creativity'. In this sense, it was not a piece of cake in my life, either.

Hu Xiaohui, Ph.D.
Associate Research Fellow
Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Institute of Literature
Beijing, China
huxiaohui9525 (at) sohu.com>

Annamari Iranto: Switching Identity

Participating in the FF Summer School 2002 was for me an initiation-rite to the world of professional folklore research; something very valuable, but great fun, too. Considering myself as somewhat an outsider in the academic world, it was important just to get to know many of "The Names" of our discipline in person – with all their strengths and maybe some weaknesses, too. As we all know, the Summer School 2002 turned to be "a Summer School of silent moments", and thereby did some of the great names in our field remain just names at least to me. Still, in a perhaps odd way, this brought its own special spirit to our Summer School, meaning that we could feel the great work that has been done, but got at the same time, and in the spirit of these antecedents' heritage, the obligation to go on. At least I did not get the feeling of losing everything; no, the spirit of looking forward was in my opinion very strong.

In the summarizing discussion a wish was expressed, that the Summer School could have been more school-like, more educational so to say. I, however, feel that the idea of equality on some level was a better way to make us to take part – to work and to learn. To have our papers there by turns with the professionals' lectures, gave us responsibility advantageous to all work. And this I say being myself maybe the least scientific and least advanced in my study of all participants, feeling, thus, that I did not have so much to give to the others. But here I mean the scientific benefit, which surely varied also because of so wide gamut of the topics concerned in the papers and lectures. In general, I think, it always benefits everybody just to get together with other people. We all are professionals of life, and that's why others always can teach us something.

For me the idea of some kind of equality, as I felt it, was maybe especially important because in addition to be an expert of life, I have already a profession as a journalist. In journalists' identity in general belongs, I think, to shun all too educational approaches. My professional identity has been very strong, also because I have for a quite long time been an active member of our labour union. That's why it was very healthy to feel oneself as a total novice among all pros. But to get to know the whole discipline better during the Summer School – including the people and the spectra of the topics – and the touching moment of becoming a member of the FF Network, that all gave me the feeling, that all of a sudden I may be getting some other possibilities to act in the working life than what my present profession gives. That really put me in a state of "switching identity": who knows, if even I am a becoming folklorist, a real professional in that – or at least a part-time expert, after having worked hard for it, of course. Well, I still think that it would be a privilege to make one's living as a folklorist; how many of us will do so in the future, that remains to be seen. But that is also a political question, a measure of a civilised state – as well as the question, for what purposes our skills are wanted to be used. But to puzzle over that problem we can leave to a later occasion.

Last, but not least important thing of the Summer School was the great fun we had there. Being together in the outdoor-dance, visiting the "sahti"-factory, swimming and having the sauna was just splendid. Not to mention our parties and dancing at the Research Station. And the continual sitting by the fire, the singing, the drinking of the most noble spirits of all, Koskenkorva – all that is not to undervalue.

Annamari Iranto, MA
Department of Folklore
University of Joensuu, Finland
annamari.iranto (at) joensuu.fi

Finnish participants and friends gathered to sing "Satumaa" for Anna-Leena Siikala. Photo Pirkko Hämäläinen.

Ezekiel Alembi: Fond Memories of a Finnish Summer

The bus pulled up at the Lammi Biological Station. It was on 15th July, 2002–a warm lovely Monday evening. The passengers included folklore and cultural anthropology doctoral students, researchers and eminent scholars from twelve different countries. Clutching my bags in both hands, I proudly stepped out of the bus. This was the beginning of my ten days stay at Lammi, where I was to attend the 6th edition of the Folklore Fellows Summer School (FFSS). The school was organised along three broad lines, namely: the academic, recreational and cultural.

The lectures, which were really the plenary sessions, offered broad overviews on the daily themes. These lectures were aimed at giving the participants insights into their themes especially in terms of theory and method. These lectures lasted about one hour each and were followed by thirty minutes of intense discussions by both the teachers and participants. This further opened opportunities for the participants to gain more knowledge of their areas of research.

Participants were allowed about 25 minutes each within which to present their papers. Another 20 minutes was spared for discussion of the paper. During the discussions, participants received feedback that enabled them to see the wider meaning and implications of their work.

Admittedly, there was a heavy dose of academic discourse at the summer school. The organisers of the school, therefore, set aside some time for recreation. This enabled the participants to "cool off". There were a variety of such activities including ball games, swimming, darts and Sauna. I remember the nights when I played darts with Saara Paatero, Kaarina Koski and Eeva-Liisa Kinnunen. I also remember the ball game I played with Valdimar Hafstein, Jonathan Roper, Jarno Väisänen and Desmond Kharmawphlang. These games offered the participants an opportunity to relax and socialise after listening to sometimes arcane sounding lectures and presentations as well as taking part in the erudite and demanding discussions. A mixture of hard academic work and recreational activities facilitated the enjoyment of the school.

Time was set aside for the participants to experience the traditional culture of Finland. Though short,this opened some corridors into Finnish culture that many participants may not have known if this opportunity was not availed.The Sauna is in many ways an important facet of Finnish culture. Being in the Sauna was an experience that many participants from outside the Nordic countries would never forget. In my culture, it is unusual if not strange to find naked people not only sitting in one place but also talking away so easily. However, at the summer school it was different. Participants stripped naked and sat in the sauna without embarrassment. Furthermore, many of them even carried drinks into the sauna – an important ritual for those who may have a little knowledge of the Finnish culture. Had the participants become a little Finnish or was it normal excitement when one encounters a new and fascinating tradition?

An equally fascinating element of Finnish culture was the Tango Dance. Many of the participants who attended joined in the dance. Those who did not dance watched with interest as the revellers danced away. Tango dance is highly structured – with clear styles etc. It is difficult for those who are strangers to the tradition to know how to do the steps. It was interesting to note that this did not become an inhibition. On the contrary, the participants joined in and going by the rhythm of the dance, invented their own steps. It was evident, gauging from their level of involvement, that they enjoyed this part of the tradition.

There was more exposure to local culture on Tuesday 17/7/2002 when participants visited Lammi Linen and Sahti Museum as well as a local brewer. In both places, the participants were given a conducted tour. The local brewer was particularly interesting to listen to and, evidently, was quite knowledgeable about her trade. She explained with precision every stage in the brewing process. At the end, the participants who have a taste for home made beer were given a chance to sample the local product free.

FFSS is one of the largest and well-organised institutions outside the formal university where folklorists and cultural anthropologists can meet, share ideas and inspire each other. Indeed, it has been a forum where scholars have exchanged ideas on theoretical and methodological elements of their work. To some participants, FFSS is like an eye-opener into folklore scholarship. I must admit that prior to attending the school, I was ignorant of a number of theoretical and methodological issues in the discipline. Listening to and interacting with the teachers and participants was a great challenge as well as a source of inspiration. I photocopied relevant sources and read them avidly.

Many participants have also benefited from the large collection of books and articles in the Schools Library. Personally, I have benefited greatly from the photocopied material that I made at the school. Coming from a country where it is difficult to get such material, the school therefore provides a unique opportunity not just for listening to presentations and participating in discussions but also for collecting rare and treasured source material.

FFSS has also provided an opportunity for participants and teachers who share similar research interests to interact, negotiate and forge linkages; some of these have matured into doctoral projects. For example, in 1997, I attended for the first time, Folklore Fellows Summer School. At the end of it, I enquired from Academy Professor Anna-Leena Siikala if I could study at the University of Helsinki. Lo! And behold! In the same year, I started working on my doctoral dissertation under her supervision. Later in 1998, I worked with her at Helsinki University. At the same time, I met and started working with Prof. Lauri Harvilahti. He was the Secretary General at the 1997 Summer School. Interestingly, when I attended the 2002 school, I was finishing up the doctoral dissertation, which I successfully defended on 26/10/2002.

Below, I point out areas where the school has been weak and suggest ways to make it effective in order to better serve more scholars across the world. To begin with, there has been limited participation by Africans. In 2002, for example, I was the only participant from Africa. I am aware that there is change in funding policy in Finland. This, inevitably, affected the 2002 school. I am also aware that FFSS is an international School and that there is a possibility that it could benefit from international organisations. Consequently, I propose a closer relationship between the school and such international organisations.

It is not for narrow selfish interests that I argue the case for more participation by Africans. Scholars from the continent have extremely limited opportunities in terms of interaction with the international community of scholars. A chance to take part in the FFSS will, therefore, be a great and appreciable opportunity to these scholars. There was also no teacher from Africa at the school. The school should open up more to allow for diversity of views and perspectives by teachers not only from America, Europe and Asia but also from Africa.

In 2002, there was emphasis on presentations. Whereas this approach worked well since every participant was given a voice. I suggest that there should be a review of the programme so that there are fewer presentations. Could more time be spared for group discussions? Is there possibility that there could be a one on one discussion between teachers and the participants? If this happened, then the teachers to be engaged on a one-on-one discourse, which the participants should be given the participants papers well in advance so that they can study them carefully. I recommend that such teachers should be working around the same issues so that they can offer the participants more informed comments on their work. This may have the advantage of the participant benefiting more than the 2002 situation where the participants got quick mass responses, which, sometimes, were misleading because the respondents may not have entirely understood the arguments. My own presentation suffered from this problem.

FFSS is an important institution. Every effort must be made to keep it alive.

Ezekiel Alembi, Doctor of Philosophy
Literature Department
Kenyatta University
Nairobi, Kenya
palembi (at) yahoo.com

In an excursion to a local home-brewery: Jonathan Roper, Ezekiel Alembi and Xiaohui Hu waiting for some samples. Photo Saara Paatero.

Pauliina Latvala: Memories of organising the Summer School

Some years ago, when Academy Professor, Chair of the FFSS Organizing Committee, Anna-Leena Siikala invited me to work as Course Secretary for the next FFSS, I jumped at the opportunity. Still relishing the memories of FFSS 1997, I knew that the Summer School was the highlight of the academic year for folklorists. The Summer School offers a wonderful opportunity for researchers to learn about the folklore research in other countries, to exchange views, information, and of course, to get acquainted. Although I may be writing this recollection more from an organizer's than say a researcher's perspective, the intellectual experience of the Summer School remains perhaps the most valuable also to me.

The summer school may have lasted ten days for participants, but it was an entire year for me. As October came to a close, the Organizing Committee of the Summer School had received almost a hundred applications. Later, 30 of these were accepted to participate in the course. We were delighted to hear that we could assemble once again at the Lammi Biological Research Centre, as we did in 1997.

For me, the six months leading up to the Summer School were the most hectic of all. By then we had informed the accepted applicants and received their confirmations. It was then that we began to formulate the profile of the daily programme. Because of limited funding, we could only invite a few teachers from abroad. Our international trio was made up of professors Barbro Klein, Diarmuid Ó Giolláin and Stein Mathisen. The folk idea of a folklorist's work does not typically include attention to financial details, budgets, and reports for sponsors. But even a student of the humanities can do it – fortified with cappuccino and good selection of music on the Walkman. There were other tasks to complete before the course began, but I'll spare you the details.

For many of us, the wistful tone of Olavi Virta's tango, Satumaa (The Enchanted Land), conjures up memories of some long summer evenings. I hope to meet you again, in a future, here in Finland, or in some other enchanted land. At least we can meet virtually, and the Yahoo-group serves as a good bulletin board. Many thanks to all the teachers, participants and staff for making the Summer School possible, interesting, and even magical.

Pauliina Latvala, MA
Institute for Cultural Researcher
Department of Folklore Studies
University of Helsinki, Finland
pauliina.latvala (at) helsinki.fi

Teachers and participants waiting for the bus in front of the Lammi research station. Clearly recognizable from the left: Stein Mathisen, Valdimar Hafstein and Barbro Klein; in the back Diarmuid O'Gióllain and Merrill Kaplan, then Annamari Iranto, Lauri Harvilahti, Kirsi Hänninen, Jonathan Roper, Johanna Jacobsen, Viktoria Vlasova, Pasi Enges and Joonas Ahola. Photo Saara Paatero.