Associate professor Pietari Kääpä: “The 1918 civil war is still a recurring theme in Finnish films”

Associate professor Pietari Kääpä: “The 1918 civil war is still a recurring theme in Finnish films”

The British Library’s lecture day on Saturday 27th of October will dive into post-1918 European film culture. Associate professor Pietari Kääpä from the University of Warwick will give a lecture on “Re-politicizing 1918 in Finnish cinema”. He tells us what to expect.

In many European countries the year 1918 marks the end of the First World War but in Finland it was the year of bloody civil war.  How has the depiction of the events of 1918 in Finland changed over the years?

“Every film about the Finnish civil war is always a product of its time. The wider societal trends, themes and political emphases are inevitably present in the films. Since the 1930s, more complex views of the meanings of the civil war have gradually emerged in film culture. I would suggest that after a hundred years, the civil war can be viewed more critically. The strive is to understand more broadly the structure and inequality underlying the conflict as well as the real life personal relationships of the time. The questions of what the civil war actually meant for the Finnish society and for national identity are also discussed in the talk.“

Why is it still important to talk about this issue a hundred years later?

“The civil war is still a recurring theme in Finnish cinema, which suggests that these societal inequalities still persist. The historical continuum of the theme suggests that there is still a need to talk about Finnishness. Finnish identity or culture cannot be seen as homogeneous entities. Finnish film culture has, to a certain degree, always acknowledged the complex nature of the constitution of Finnishness. There aren’t that many films, in which Finnishness is depicted from just one perspective without any nuances.”  

Why should one spend a Saturday at the study day?

“There will be interesting discussions about nationalism. It is intriguing to see how researchers from different nations evaluate the films of their home countries and reflect them to the reality of today. Participants will certainly get interesting perspectives on modern times.”

You work as an associate professor at the University of Warwick, what are you currently working on?

“I have always been interested in how political and cultural aspects are represented in media and society. One of my current research areas is environmental questions: how the use and production of media burdens the nature. For example, how much the servers that run Google, Facebook or Twitter use energy and how these companies are taking a more sustainable and environmental friendly approach.”

STUDY DAY: “1918: A New Europe on Film” at The British Library, Knowledge Centre,
96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB, on 27th of October 2018 at 10:00 – 17:30

Tickets  £10–£15.00
Pre-registration at:

Text: Nirosha Pöyhölä Photo: Yan Li

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