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The History of a Society: Rethinking Finland 1400 - 2000 and the History of Religious Toleration and Persecution in the Early Modern Period


Date: Thursday 27th March 2014
Time: 1pm
Venue: Atrium (Rm213), Old Arts, The University of Melbourne
Speaker: Dr Raisa Maria Toivo (University of Tampere, Finland)

The Academy of Finland's Centres of Excellence (CoE) are supposed to be the flagships of Finnish research. Currently one centre is established for history: “The History of a Society: Rethinking Finland 1400–2000”.  The approach and the method used are a theory of the history of society, how society is constructed as functions, structures and identities. The CoE is divided into 4 branches: structures, institutions, communities and world-views. My own work falls into the last section. My project is titled Persecution and Toleration in Daily Religious Culture in 17th-century Finland (Sweden). The project approaches religion as a series of active, ongoing processes in changing socio-historical contexts, emphasizing lived religion in the form of religious experience and emotion before institutional top-down structures. My study uses the secular and church court documents (including visitation protocols) to identify the processes of labelling and the dialogues on the tolerable and the intolerable. The documents are housed in public archives in Finland and Sweden. These are also put into the context of ideological propaganda and various levels of teaching in sermon collections, catechisms, early modern church ordinances and other literature meant for lay religious education.

Raisa Maria Toivo is a senior research fellow at the University of Tampere, School of Social Sciences and humanities, CoE  granted for history, called “The History of a Society: Rethinking Finland 1400–2000”. Her publications include Witchcraft and Gender in Early Modern Society, Finland and the Wider European Experience” (Ashgate 2008), Gender in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe (with Marianna G. Muravyeva, Routledge 2012) and Writing Witch-Hunt Histories (with Marko Nenonen, Brill 2013). She is currently finishing a monograph on Lutheran orthodoxy in early Modern Finland and a 5-year project on religious toleration and persecution in Scandinavia.