FEENIKS – Art and culture in the mental and material reconstruction process following the Lapland War
Feeniks is a multidisciplinary programme funded by the Academy of Finland.
The expression "Winter and Continuation War" [1939–40 and 1941–44], established in the Finnish historical discourse, have erased the term Lapland War [1944–45] from the national memory of World War Two. Yet, Finnish Lapland experienced a collective material and
mental disaster in the autumn of 1944, when retreating German troops destroyed the material culture, buildings and infrastructure of the province virtually in their entirety.
This research project is the first systematic initiative to produce a comprehensive picture of the role that art and cultural activities played in the mental and material reconstruction of Lapland. Culture is understood here in broad scope, with the research approaching it
from the perspectives of a range of different disciplines: cultural history, art history, art education, Sámi research, photography research, literature research, sociology, architecture and museology.
Our main question is: How was Lapland reconstructed both materially and mentally in various spheres of life by and through art and culture?
The sub-questions are:
- What was the significance of art and culture in the overall material, mental, intellectual and spiritual reconstruction of Lapland?
- What kinds of regional, national and international traditional and modern/modernising influences, values and practices did reconstruction introduce into the culture and everyday lives of people in Lapland?
- How have Northern art and culture articulated the reconstruction ethos of Lapland? How can this ethos be interpreted through an examination of art and cultural activities?
The methodological point of departure in the project, one which moulds the research into a coherent whole, draws on the Gadamerian tradition of hermeneutics, which defines hermeneutics "as the skill to let things speak which come to us in a fixed, petrified form, that
of the text". In addition to addressing what has been spoken and written, our challenge is to get places, images and objects to speak again. Here, the project’s methodological basis broadens into the area of visual hermeneutics.
We emphasise the contextualisation of written, visual, material and oral sources, thick reading and sensitivity to the interpretations of the meanings ascribed by contemporaries
to their experiences. Crucial here is the concept of the presence of history and the multi-layered nature of time and place. The international research cooperation will enable the project’s points of departure and results to engage with a broader European context.