This book addresses the narrative construction of places, the relationship between tradition communities and their environments, the supernatural dimensions of cultural landscapes and wilderness as they are manifested in European folklore and in early literary sources, such as the Old Norse sagas.
The first section “Explorations in Place-Lore” discusses cursed and sacred places, churches, graveyards, haunted houses, cemeteries, grave mounds, hill forts, and other tradition dominants in the micro-geography of the Nordic and Baltic countries, both retrospectively and from synchronous perspectives. The supernaturalisation of places appears as a socially embedded set of practices that involves storytelling and ritual behaviour. Articles show, how places accumulate meanings as they are layered by stories and how this shared knowledge about environments can actualise in personal experiences.
Articles in the second section “Regional Variation, Environment and Spatial Dimensions” address ecotypes, milieu-morphological adaptation in Nordic and Baltic-Finnic folklores, and the active role of tradition bearers in shaping beliefs about nature as well as attitudes towards the environment. The meaning of places and spatial distance as the marker of otherness and sacrality in Old Norse sagas is also discussed here.
The third section of the book “Traditions and Histories Reconsidered” addresses major developments within the European social histories and mentalities. It scrutinizes the history of folkloristics, its geopolitical dimensions and its connection with nation building, as well as looking at constructions of the concepts Baltic, Nordic and Celtic. It also sheds light on the social base of folklore and examines vernacular views toward legendry and the supernatural.Book Details
Matthias Alexander Castrén’s (1813–1852) Luentoja suomalaisesta mytologiasta (’Lectures on Finnish Mythology’, originally Swedish ’Föreläsningar i finsk mytologi’) is a key work in the research history of Finnish mythology. This is the first Finnish translation of it. Despite ’Lectures’ in the label, the work is a coherent book. It makes a systematic approach to ancient Finnish religion on the basis of earlier mythographers, Castrén’s fieldwork among Finnic peoples and the latest European research trends of the first half of the 19th century. Even though Castrén’s Lectures significantly developed Finnish mythography and it served as a standard work for half a century, its significance was largely forgotten when new research paradigms were introduced in the course of the 20th century.
The work is an important part of the history of Finnish research in religions, linguistics and ethnography and it also reflects the state of the study of mythology in Europe in the middle of the 19th century. The book is lively written and therefore, it meets the taste of the general public in addition to researchers. This edition includes a concise introduction to Lectures’ historical context, a scientific commentary and exhaustive indexes.
M. A. Castrén is renown especially as a linguist and explorer who worked among Siberian peoples but his work was marked also by interest in Finnishness at a time when the idea of a Finnish nation was developing. Lectures was Castrén’s last work. He finished the book in his deathbed, and it was published posthumously in 1853.
The translator and editor of the Lectures, Joonas Ahola, PhD, is an expert in Old Norse language and mythology as well as kalevala-meter poetry. The other author of the introduction, Karina Lukin, PhD, is an expert of North Siberian cultures and 19th century expeditions among them.Book Details
Identities in Practice draws a nuanced picture of how the experience of migration affects the process through which Sikhs in Finland and California negotiate their identities. What makes this study innovative with regard to the larger context of migration studies is the contrast it provides between experiences at two Sikh migration destinations. By using an ethnographic approach, Hirvi reveals how practices carried out in relation to work, dress, the life-cycle, as well as religious and cultural sites, constitute important moments in which Sikhs engage in the often transnational art of negotiating identities.
Laura Hirvi's rich ethnographic account brings to the fore how the construction of identities is a creative process that is conditioned and infiltrated by questions of power. Identities in Practice will appeal to scholars who are interested in the study of cultures, identities, migration, religion, and transnationalism.Book Details
Why are Khanty shamans still active? What are the folklore collectives of Komi? Why are the rituals of Udmurts performed at cultural festivals? In their insightful ethnographic study Anna-Leena Siikala and Oleg Ulyashev attempt to answer such questions by analysing the recreation of religious traditions, myths, and songs in public and private performances. Their work is based on long term fieldwork undertaken during the 1990s and 2000s in three different places, the Northern Ob region in North West Siberia and in the Komi and Udmurt Republics. It sheds light on how different traditions are favoured and transformed in multicultural Russia today. Siikala and Ulyashev examine rituals, songs, and festivals that emphasize specificity and create feelings of belonging between members of families, kin groups, villages, ethnic groups, and nations, and interpret them from a perspective of area, state, and cultural policies. A closer look at post-Soviet Khanty, Komi and Udmurts shows that opportunities to perform ethnic culture vary significantly among Russian minorities with different histories and administrative organisation. Within this variation the dialogue between local and administrative needs is decisive.Book Details
Lying on the border between eastern and western Christendom, Orthodox Karelia preserved its unique religious culture into the 19th and 20th centuries, when it was described and recorded by Finnish and Karelian folklore collectors. This colorful array of ritulas and beliefs involving nature spirits, saints, the dead, and pilgrimage to monasteries represented a unigue fusion of official Church ritual and doctrine and pre-Christian ethnic folk belief. This book undertakes a fascinating exploration into many aspects of Orthodox Karelian ritual life: beliefs in supernatural forces, folk models of illness, body concepts, divination, holy icons, the role of the ritual specialist and healer, the divide between nature and culture, images of forest, the cult of the dead, and the popular image of monasteries and holy hermits. It will appeal to anyone interested in popular religion, the cognitive study of religion, ritual studies, medical anthropology, and the folk traditions and symbolism of the Balto-Finnic peoples.Book Details
It is an unusual book in many respects. It is a specific study based on original and in most cases unedited sources, but it can also be read as a general introduction. It crosses boundaries between different fields of learning and traditionally accepted time periods of history. Even if it is essentially a book on medieval man, it stretches far beyond the middle ages as conventionally understood. The final chapter traces the slow disappearance of the medieval mentality until the early nineteenth century.Book Details