Projects and collaboration

Institutionalised Religion and Religious Change
Project leader: Anna Haapalainen (Department of Comparative Religion, University of Turku)

Anna Haapalainen’s PhD research project focuses on the relationship between St. Michael’s Parish as a part of the Finnish Evangelical-Lutheran Church and diverse and scattered religious sphere in today’s Finnish society. The emergence of diverse possibilities of religious affiliation challenges the traditional religiosity and religious practices.

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Lutheran Christianity in the context of Finnish preindustrial folk culture and belief tradition
Project leader: Kaarina Koski, docent and PhD in folklore studies

Kaarina Koski has studied Lutheran Christianity in the context of Finnish preindustrial folk culture and belief tradition. Her research on the topic concerns death and burial, the connection between death and evil in folk culture, the sacred nature of the Church building in vernacular tradition, Christian upbringing and morals in folk culture, as well as folk legends concerning the Church building and graveyards.

Religious Imaginaries and Modernisation: The Dynamics of World-making among Amazonian Indigenous Christians
Project leader: Minna Opas (Turku Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Turku)

This three-year (2015–2017) research project explores the role of religious imaginaries in shaping people’s lived worlds. More specifically, it concentrates on the ways in which different Christian imaginaries affect people’s understandings of the self, the other and the transcendent, and on how, if at all, in doing so, Christianity works as a modernising force in people’s worlds. Research material in the study will be formed among Indigenous Yine second generation Christians living in the Peruvian Amazonia.

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Tactile Saints – Holy Matter and the Great Western Schism
Project leader: Marika Räsänen (Turku Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Turku)

The aim of the three-year (2017­­–2019) research project is to study the perception of relics as a part of the Great Western Schism (1378–1418). The exploration focuses on the religious culture promoted by the Dominicans. The Schism manifested itself poignantly in the Dominican Order and further in the lay communities following Dominican friars’ pastoral care. The Dominican Order was divided into two obediences under the guidance of two master generals of whom one followed the pope Clement VII in Avignon and the other Urban VI in Rome. Thus polarized, the Order introduced new cults of relics, as well as narrative literature, iconography and liturgy that promoted their veneration. Both factions of the Order were active in encouraging, guiding, and controlling relic practices. While the late Middle Ages have often been seen as a death blow to relic cults, this project argues that relics were a vital part of the experience of the Schism: relics intensified the polarization of Christendom, first between two popes, one in Avignon, the other in Rome, and then after 1409, the third in Pisa.

Touching, Tasting, Hearing, Seeing and Smelling. Sensory Experiences in the Feasts of St Thomas Aquinas
Project leader: Marika Räsänen (Cultural History, University of Turku)
Project members: Hilkka-Liisa Vuori (Sibelius-Academy), Seppo Heikkinen (Classical languages, University of Helsinki), Johanna Korhonen (free lance chanter)

This is a joint research and artistic project with a strong multidisciplinary approach. A culture historian, musicologist and Latin philologist investigate medieval lyrics and notations of Saint Thomas Aquinas’s feasts and analyze the perception of the saint through the spatial, musical and linguistic emphasis in his festivities. The project producer the concerts and it has published the CD Felix Thomas, lumen mundi in collaboration with Vox silentii. In the Chanting Laboratory the project members and other participants have sought to achieve a grasp of a possible sensorial experience of medieval people.  The project is funded by KONE foundation in 2015­–2018.

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Charity, Compassion and Humanity: The Iconographic Change in Finnish Altarpieces and the Societal Transition in 1869-1919
Project leader: Ringa Takanen (Art History, University of Turku)

Ringa Takanen’s PhD research project explores the widely used and new motifs in the Evangelical Lutheran altarpieces of the late 19th and early 20th century Finland. The main focus is on Alexan­dra Frosterus-​Såltin (1837–1916), who created a large body of work and thus had a strong influence on the altar painting of her era. The research concentrates on the thematic of humanity and social activity of Christ, particularly the motifs including women and children as part of the central imagery. The diverse approaches of picture interpretation and iconographic methodology are applied, and the works are placed in their contemporary social, political and cultural framework.

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