The present issue offers portraits of folklore institutions in Finland. We wish to draw the attention of our friends and colleagues abroad to these institutions, because they are internationally oriented and present a window through which to look at Finland. They often receive foreign folklorists visiting the country and may render assistance in creating academic contacts and finding research materials.
The oldest and finest institution is the Finnish Literature Society in Helsinki. Its Folklore Archive is one of the largest in the world. The Society was founded in 1831 and its first task was to support Elias Lönnrot in his collecting of oral poetry which led to the publication of the Kalevala in 1835. The epic was hailed as a national achievement and for three decades it represented practically alone Finnish literature on the international scene. Since then the Society has continued to develop as a publication house and a central archive for folklore and literary manuscripts, a kind of national treasury. Many a Finnish folklorist has served on the staff or on the Board of the Society.
The newest institution is the Kalevala Institute at the University of Turku, formally founded on March 9, 1998. It is basically a research unit with considerable publication activities and a markedly international orientation. Its primary field is comparative research on epics but its publications comprise folkloristics in general. The Finnish Academy of Science and Letters has placed FF Communications and FF Network and certain other activities in the Institute and other supporters are the Finnish Literature Society, the Kalevala Society and the Alfred Kordelin Foundation. The presence of leading folklorists from five Finnish universities and three scientific societies in the Steering Group of the Institute guarantees national representativity.
The Folklore Fellows’ Summer School is governed by a somewhat similar coalition: its organising committee consists of representatives of the Folklore Departments of Finnish universities, the Finnish Literature Society and the Kalevala Institute. The announcement of the 5th Summer School to be held in Turku on August 8-23, 1999 is published in this issue. The deadline for applications is September 30, 1998.
The task of institutions is to provide continuity. Individuals come and go but institutions stay, we used to think in the past. Today nothing is certain, and even institutions must constantly renew themselves in order to survive. An example of such a renewal is the NNF or Nordic Network for Folklorists presently on the starting line both at Åbo Akademi University in Turku and at the University of Bergen. It fills the gap left by the discontinuation of NIF, the Nordic Institute of Folklore. It is not a replica of its predecessor but will hopefully serve both old and new customers. Folklorists have reason to be grateful for the readiness of the universities to support the new folkloristic institutions.
(FFN 15, April 1998: 1)