“Folklore Fellows” refers to the international cooperation between folklorists set in motion at the beginning of last century. One of the leading figures was Professor Kaarle Krohn, a member of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters, who founded the publications series called Folklore Fellows’ Communications in 1910. Despite being published by this Finnish Academy, the series has, throughout its history, published folkloristic monographs of international significance. Meanwhile, Finnish folkloristics has been the subject of the Studia Fennica series published by the Finnish Literature Society. Although the voice of the Folklore Fellows as an international community fell silent after a couple of decades, the 3–5 volumes published each year in the FF Communications series did reflect the ideas of Krohn and his colleagues in various countries. When, in the 1980s, folklorists began entering into closer cooperation on a global scale, the folklorist members of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters – Professor Lauri Honko, Academician Professor Matti Kuusi, Professor Leea Virtanen and Professor Anna-Leena Siikala – proposed that the Fellows might engage in not only publication but also information exchange, meetings and courses. The idea was Lauri Honko’s, and it is thanks to his vigour and dedication that the Folklore Fellows’ Network now has 650 members, all eminent folklorists, and a newsletter mailed to 1,300 addresses. On retiring from his post as Professor at the University of Turku in 1996, Lauri Honko continued his work as Director of the Kalevala Institute and devoted even more time to the Folklore Fellows’ Network led by him.

The sudden death of both Lauri Honko and Leea Virtanen within a few days of each other in July 2002 was a tremendous loss. The Network has nevertheless continued without a break. In 2002–03 the Academy’s folklorists were joined after an interval of twenty years by no fewer than three new members: Satu Apo, Professor of Folkloristics at the University of Helsinki, Professor Aili Nenola, Director of the Kristiina Institute and a specialist on women’s studies at the University of Helsinki, and Annikki Kaivola-Bregenhøj, Professor of Folkloristics at the University of Turku. They were all invited to become members of the Academy in recognition of their distinguished research merits. They are also members of the FF Network’s Advisory Committee and of the Executive Committee operating under the aegis of the Academy. Anna-Leena Siikala, Vice Chairman since 1995, took over as Chairman after the death of Lauri Honko.

The most conspicuous manifestation of the Folklore Fellows’ Network has been the international summer school held every two or three years in collaboration with the departments of folklore at the Finnish universities. It was last held in partnership with the University of Helsinki at the Lammi Biological Research Station in July 2002. As the enthusiasm for globalism waned at around the turn of the millennium, funding the school’s worldwide recruiting became increasingly difficult. There has thus been debate on the future of the school during the past two or three years. Both the participants and the teachers are, however, in favour of continuing the school, though possibly in some different format. If not truly global, the school could be oriented towards some particular region and seek new partners.

In 2002 the Board of the Finnish Academy of Science and Letters appointed Anna-Leena Siikala Editor of the FF Communications series. The future of the series is secure, and FFC enjoys a wider circulation than almost any other Academy publication. It is, furthermore, a classic series in that volumes published even decades ago are still in demand and every effort is made to ensure their availability. FFC has, in the course of its long history, established various practices that are worth adhering to. One is the publication of the type catalogues for which there is a constant demand. Whereas more and more international scientific publishers are nowadays adopting increasingly commercial principles, FFC is still able to distribute basic research founded on solid documentation. The series’ profile should, however, be modified to accommodate new research trends and perspectives. The editors therefore welcome comments and bold, innovative suggestions for the diversification and modernisation of the series so as to cover the most interesting aspects of contemporary research.

A suitable debating forum for this is the FF Network – a forum not sufficiently exploited as a medium for genuine dialogue. In addition to articles and reviews, readers would undoubtedly be interested in presentations, complete with contact details, of folkloristic schools and research teams in other countries and/or universities. We would be pleased to hear from centres engaged in the study and teaching of folkloristics that would like to tell about themselves. The FF Network will continue to be distributed by post despite being available on the Internet.

This will, we hope, ensure that it reaches as wide a readership as possible and will serve as a channel for announcing conferences, seminars and research projects, allowing for the fact that it appears only twice a year.

The Folklore Fellows’ Network is a joint international organ for folklorists and its success depends on the initiative and activeness of its members. Having personally got to know, through our summer schools, a large band of folklorists the world over, and being convinced of the importance of furthering our common interests and of our ability to do so, I look with confidence to the future. The Network is a tool worth using in building the future of folkloristics.

by Anna-Leena Siikala, Academy Professor
Director of the Kalevala Institute
(FFN 24, May 2003: 2, 5)

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