Ulla Savolainen is a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki in the Department of Philosophy, History, Culture and Art Studies. She holds a PhD in Folklore Studies (University of Helsinki, 2015). Her research interests include oral history and memory studies; folklore; narrative theory; vernacular literature; relationship of memory and narrative with space, place, matter and body; and experiences of migration, diaspora and transnationality. Her doctoral dissertation focused on the life writings of former Karelian child evacuees in Finland and the poetics of life writings and reminiscing as a genre of vernacular expression.

Project description:

Ulla Savolainen’s current ongoing work is oral history research on the internment, and its aftermath, of German and Hungarian citizens during 1944–1946 in Finland after the war with the Soviet Union. The research explores memories and narratives of individuals (usually children of German fathers and Finnish mothers) who were minors during the internment. The study explores issues relating to silence, agency and nationality on personal and societal level. The research materials include oral history interviews conducted by Savolainen. In addition, the role of visual materials and objects as well as the relationship between public memory and personal/private memory are explored. The study also takes into account the reception of the law of compensation (in Finland 2014).

Ulla Savolainen’s research is a part of part of the multidisciplinary and international research project entitled Livingmemories: Living together with difficult memories and diverse identities (1 Oct 2015 – 30 Sept 2017, PI: Kirsti Salmi-Niklander). Funded by ‘ERA.NET Plus with Russia’, the multidisciplinary project of Livingmemories focuses on different memories and diverse identities related to conflicts in Russia, Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Germany, and Turkey. It addresses the questions: How can people live together after violent conflicts and with traumatic memories? How is it possible to allow difficult memories instead of silencing them? The project is coordinated by the University of Helsinki.

Recent and forthcoming publications:

Forthcoming 2017: ‘The Return – Intertextuality of Reminiscing of Karelian Evacuees in Finland’. Journal of American Folklore.

Forthcoming 2016: ‘Genre of Reminiscence Writings. Applying the Bakhtin Circle’s Genre Theories’. In Frog, Kaarina Koski & Ulla Savolainen (eds.): Genre – Text – Interpretation: Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Folklore and Beyond. Studia Fennica Folkloristica. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society.

2015: Muisteltu ja kirjoitettu evakkomatka. Tutkimus evakkolapsuuden muistelukerronnan poetiikasta. [Reminiscing and Writing about the Evacuation Journey. The Poetics of Narrating Evacuee Childhood] Kultaneito XV. Joensuu: Suomen Kansantietouden tutkijain Seura. 414 p. [Doctoral dissertation]

Web pages:



email: ulla.savolainen[at]helsinki.fi