Foto av Päivi Salmesvuori

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Personlig profil


I have begun as a medievalist church historian but have expanded determinedly my research profile both toward the Late Antiquity and toward the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. My approach to different eras has one way or another included the themes of power, authority and gender in the history of Christianity. These aspects have offered a very fruitful way to each era and at the same time made me search for and apply methodological interdisciplinarity. Moreover, the implementation of the research outcomes to present day issues through teaching has been easy. Pedagogical research has been another field of interest. My interest in scientific approach could be described with the words “why” and “what does it mean” instead of “what”.

My research is anchored in church history but as all my projects have been interdisciplinary by their nature, the aspects of gender, cultural history, history of ideas, interpretations of the Bible, social history, history of mysticism, and exercise of power have been present in them. In addition to writing research texts the vivid research and teaching interaction with other disciplines has made me to attempt to explicate the methods used in the research better than has been done earlier. I address them in my research, but I have also given some time to write articles about different methodological approaches, such as studying gender, power and authority, biographical writing, and now the freshest one: evaluating and assessing interdisciplinary theses, from pedagogical points of view (with a group of members of Teachers’s Academy, University of Helsinki).

I have been lucky to be a member of several national and international projects. I had a post-doctoral project with the Academy of Finland called Gaining and Keeping the Authority. The Trance-preacher Helena Konttinen (2011–2013); other projects have been Fragmented Visions. Performance, Authority and Interaction in Early 20th-century Finnish Oral-literary Traditions, Academy of Finland, led by folklorist Kirsti Salmi-Niklander (2015–2019) and Rus plus -project Living Together with Difficult Memories and Diverse Identities also led by Kirsti Salmi-Niklander (2017–2020). I was researcher in the projects Finnish Women Writing on Religion and Gender led by Terhi Utriainen (Study of Religions, FA, 2009–2014) and Gendered Practices in Medieval Mysticism 1200–1500, led by Maiju Lehmijoki-Gardner (FA 2005–2009). I was also member of the Horizon2020 project Religious Toleration and Peace, led by Patrick Pasture (Leuven U), at the time of the pandemy, which forced us to find creative solutions for implementing all parts of our project. Results and ideas for teaching can be accessed in

In the ongoing Kone Foundation project called “Stabat Mater dolorosa – the Significance of Gender and Compassion in the Middle Ages”, we are with two postdoc-researchers, Anna-Riina Hakala and Katri Vuola seeking to research emotions in the Middle Ages, and especially focus on the genderedness of compassion. Although the emphasis is in the Middle Ages, the findings of this project are highly applicable to the study of contemporary times especially from the point of view of lived religion.

My goal in teaching is to provide a learning and student-centered environment that promotes comprehensive research-based learning. The objective is not only to learn about certain subject matter but in addition to develop skills and expertise needed both in life and work. In both research and teaching I want to emphasize that the best results will be gained by hard work, critical, ethical, and creative thinking and last, but not least, in collaboration with each other. I think one very important arena both in the university and in the society is to work for the better equality of all people. I have long been active in matters of equality and wish to continue the work.




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