Viliina SILVONEN MA, PhD
I am a folklorist and ethnomusicologist specializing in Karelian lament tradition and its sprouts in Finland. My earlier research includes themes like performance and poetics, emotions and affective power of lamenting, and historical and cultural meanings. My ongoing study is concerned with issues of identity, power-relations, and questions of ownership of oral tradition/intangible cultural heritage. My primary interests interweave with tradition in changing sociocultural contexts. Especially the postcolonial discourse and minority perspectives linked to the Karelian minority in Finland are now topical in the field of laments and also more generally. In Finland, the experiences of the Karelian speaking minority are often not well recognised by the Finns, Finnish speaking Karelians and Karelians who identify as Finns.
As a guest researcher at the Music and Minorities Research Center (MMRC), I work on an article manuscript about laments in contemporary Finland from the point of cultural appropriation. In 21st century Finland, lamenting practices vary from performing art to psychological and new spiritual interpretations. Mostly, the contemporary Finnish practices are based on Karelian ritual lamenting; while there are no historical sources of lamenting in Finnish. In the article, I concentrate on how these new frames marginalize and have marginalized the traditional Karelian practices and meanings. The study builds on archival fieldwork collections of Karelian laments and my ethnographic fieldwork among contemporary lamenters in Finland. The case study of cultural appropriation in the context of Karelian laments and their Finnish sprouts is also interesting in the larger scope because of the close, blended, and complex relation of Finnish and Karelian cultures, traditions, identities, and history.
I am extremely happy to be able to stay five weeks at the MMRC to learn more about minority studies from this excellent research community of specialists in the field!
This visit is part of my postdoctoral work in projects “Kyynelkanavat: Laments in contemporary Finland” (funded by Kone Foundation, 4/2021–3/2024) and “Karelian perspective to folk music in Finland” (funded by The Finnish Cultural Foundation, 3/2023–9/2024).