History of experience 2020

History of Experience: Methodologies and Practices 2.-4.3.2020 Tampere

About the conference

The conference aimed to deepen and diversify the methodology of the history of experiences, and to connect it to historian’s practices. What do we do, as historians, to study and conceptualize experience? How do we choose methodologies and why, and how they anticipate potential explanations?

History of experience means individual, social, and collective experiences as historically conditioned phenomena. ‘Experience’ refers here to a theoretically and methodologically conceptualized study of human experiences that has potential to bridge structures, ideologies, and individual agency, which has been a difficult gap to close. But potential also includes challenges: How do subjective experiences influence knowledge regimes, social order and divisions, institutions, or other structures, and how do structures shape experiences? How do historians deal with connecting individual and society?

The conference was organized by the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the History of Experiences (HEX), hosted by Tampere University. HEX is seeking new ways to study experiences and their role in explaining history. HEX studies experiences as lived realities and focuses on three wide-ranging cultural and societal phenomena: lived religion, lived nation, and lived welfare state.


The venue is the main building of Tampere University.
Address: Kalevantie 4, Tampere.

The keynote speakers of the conference are Professor Raisa Toivo and Professor Javier Moscoso. Professor Jacqueline Van Gent’s keynote has unfortunately been cancelled.

Find the abstracts here. (Updated 27 February 2020.)

Mon, 2 March

9.15–9.30: Opening (D11)

9.30–10.30: Keynote I (D11), Professor Raisa Toivo: Premodern and modern problems of right and wrong experience
Chair: Pirjo Markkola

10.30–10.45: Coffee (Gallery)

10.45–12.15: Parallel I (A2b, A3, A4)

1)War Experiences and the Nation, A2b
Chair: Reetta Eiranen
Matthew LenoeExperience and Official Discourse in the Red Army: Front Life and Rodina in the Great Patriotic War, 1941-1945
Tanja Vahtikari, Sami Suodenjoki & Ville KivimäkiLived Nation: Messy and Entangled Experiences

2) (Post)colonialism and Minority History, A3
Chair: Riikka Miettinen
Julia HurstEpic and messy narratives: Aboriginal identity across urban geographies
Hanna LindbergDocumenting and Exploring Experiences within Minority History. Methodological and Ethical Considerations
Ismay MilfordFrustration in the making of an anticolonial culture, 1950s East and Central Africa

3) The “Expertise of Experience” in Britain, A4
Chair: Johanna Annola
Ruth DavidsonWomen, welfare and poverty: experiential expertise, a comparative approach
Caitriona BeaumontHousewives’ Associations, Collective Experience and Voluntary Action: How wives and mothers influenced social policy reform through ‘experiential expertise’ in post-war Britain

12.15–13.15: Lunch (Restaurant Aleksis, Kalevantie 2)

13.15–15.15: Parallel II (A2b, A3, A4)

4) Experiences and Hagiography, A2b
Chair: Päivi Räisänen-Schröder
Jenni KuulialaHagiography and Religious Experience of Infirmity in Catholic Reformation Era Italy
Rose-Marie PeakeSaints’ Vitae and Identity-Shaping in an Early Modern Catholic Community in France
Thomas DevaneyFeeling with Miracles: Emotional Management in Early Modern Spain
Päivi Räisänen-SchröderCommentator

5) Witnessing Conflict and Repression, A3
Chair: Marko Tikka
Eileen Groth LyonLived religion in Dachau: analyzing the multiplicity of witnesses in the ‘priest barracks’
Virva LiskiIn-between: role conflicts and intersecting identities in experiences of the Finnish civil war
Pablo Toro-BlancoThe experience of political fear in three critical junctures: Chile, 1905, 1957, 2019

6) Senses and the Archive, A4
Chair: Rob Boddice

Laura NissinGone with the wind — studying the ancient olfactory sensations
Ilaria ScagliaThe Source and I: Archival Emotions (or Experiences?) in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, 1850–1950
Viliina SilvonenPerformed and experienced emotions on archival audio recordings of Karelian laments

15.15–15.30: Coffee (Gallery)

15.30–17.30: Parallel III (A2b, A3, A4)

7) Experiences of Everyday Life, A2b
Chair: Sami Suodenjoki
Kalle KallioLike one big family
Ann-Catrin ÖstmanRespectable enough? Understandings of mobility, community and edification in early life stories of migrant men

8) Languages, Narrative and Experience, A3
Chair: Ville Vuolanto
Xavier Biron-OuelletFrom experientia to sentimentum: the semantics of religious experience in the Middle Ages
Outi LehtipuuLived Scriptures in Late Antiquity
Liv Helene WillumsenA Narratological Approach to Witchcraft Trials: A Contribution to the History of Experience and Emotion

9) Experience as an Analytical Category, A4
Chair: Pertti Haapala
Georg GanglThe History of Experiences: A history like anything else?
Minna Harjula & Heikki KokkoExperience as social construction: towards a structural approach
Klaudia MucaBetween Criticism and Affirmation. Experience Studies in Poland in 20th and 21st Century
Andreas RydbergInner Experience

19.00 – Gettogether (vegan buffet) (Restaurant Telakka, Tullikamarinaukio 3)


Tue, 3 March

9.30–10.30: Keynote II (D11), Professor Javier Moscoso: Local Rhetoric and Global Experiences: the Forgotten History of the Swing
Chair: Ville Kivimäki

10.30–10.45: Coffee (Gallery)

10.45–12.15: Parallel IV (A2b, A3)

10) Experience and Emotion in Legal and Judicial Sources, A2b
Chair: Raisa Toivo
Sari Katajala-Peltomaa: Experiencing Demonic Presence: corporeality, emotions and the sensate in late medieval canonization processes
Emilie Luther SøbyHow to be(come) the perfect inmate: Feeling rules as basis for emotional labour within an eighteenth-century prison workhouse

11) Childhood Experiences, A3
Chair: Stephanie Olsen
Ulla AatsinkiChilhood Experiences in Politicians’ Memoirs
Kirsi-Maria HytönenInterviewing on experiences of difficult childhood
Heidi MorrisonPortraiture as a Method of Capturing Past Human Experience: A case study of war trauma in Palestinian history

12.15–13.15: Lunch (Restaurant AleksisKalevantie 2)

13.15–15.15: Parallel V (A2b, A3, A4)

12) Institutions and Margins, A2b
Chair: Minna Harjula
Johanna AnnolaTracing spiritual experiences in poorhouse inspection records, 1890s–1910s
Sophy BergenheimPreserving the ‘welfare spirit’: Explorations into a professional-personal-political concept in social welfare, 1940–1950s Finland
Jesper Vaczy Kragh & Stine Grønbak JensenLiving with Coercion: Past and Present Experiences in Danish Residential Institutions
Katariina ParhiUsing drugs in Finland in the 1960s and 70s

13) Experiencing Intimacy, A3
Chair: Reetta Eiranen
Eva Johanna HolmbergNightmarish travel experiences in the journal of Richard Norwood (1590-1670)
Ina LindblomMaking sense of romantic jealousy in late 18th-century Sweden
Ulla IjäsMobile people and mobile goods – The urban experience in the Great Northen War
Tomasz WiśliczThe experience of intimacy in pre-modern peasant societies

14) Experience and Idealism, A4
Chair: Pertti Haapala
Ville ErkkiläThe peculiar experience of law”. ’Experience’ in German legal science and legal history
Tuukka BrunilaWar and the origin of contemporary sovereignty: Re-examining Carl Schmitt’s writings during the First World War
Pedro MagalhaesCan Ideology Be Meaningfully Experienced?
Ville SuuronenDebating the twentieth-century experience of crisis and the new concept of human rights

15.15–15.30: Coffee (Gallery)

15.30–17.30: Parallel VI (A2b, A3, A4)

15) Experiences of War, Mass Violence and Persecution, A2b
Chair: Ville Kivimäki
Ismee Tames: Liminality and the Use of Digitized Sources: How to Explore the Experiences of the Stateless
Thijs Bouwknegt: Re-Experiencing Atrocity in Ethiopia Through Transitional Justice
Peter Romijn: Colonial War as a “Prefab Experience”
Marleen van der Berg: Describing the persecution, return and redress of ‘the’ Jewish Community in Rotterdam

16) Sources and Methods of Studying Experience, A3
Chair: Tanja Vahtikari
Anneleen ArnoutFishwrap: The digitized newspaper as a source for the history of emotional experience
Girija Kizhakke PattathilThe Transgressive potential of Narrative Tropes: Interplay of Knowledge and Experience
Pia KoivunenAutoethnographic approach to experience: what can we historians learn from it?
Bruno LefortDocumenting and conceptualizing experiences in postwar societies through collaborative methods

17) Immigration and Cultural Encounters, A4
Chair: Hanna Lindberg
Laurence PrempainJe vous prie d’agréer mes salutations les plus respectueuses”: Migrants’ letters to the French administration: strategies versus control. 1930s-1940s
Kirsti Salmi-NiklanderExploring the immigrant experience through narrative analysis of archival materials
Samira SaramoFeeling Places of Historical Inquiry

19.00 – Dinner (Restaurant TampellaKelloportinkatu 1)


Wed, 4 March

9.30–11.30: Parallel VII (A3, A4)

18) Contingency of Emotion and Experience, A3
Chair: Ville Kivimäki & Tuomas Tepora
Rob BoddiceNeuroscience and History: Fellow Travellers in the New Turn to Experience
Jeremy BurmanFurther toward ‘histories from within’: Lessons worth remembering from forgotten developmental theories
Tsiona LidaEmotions at the Intersection of Science and History
Ville Kivimäki & Tuomas TeporaCommentators

19) Norms, Regulations and Breaches, A4
Chair: Mervi Kaarninen

Heini Hakosalo: ‘Cheerfulness is the best remedy!’ The significance and means of emotion regulation in tuberculosis sanatoria (Finland c. 1900–60)
Antti MalinenSeeking Safety in an Insecure World: Role of Everyday Mobilities in Children’s Experience of Distress in post-WWII Finland
Anna KantanenIntimate partner violence as a continued historical experience

11.30–12.30: Lunch (Restaurant AleksisKalevantie 2)

12.30–14.00: Parallel VIII (A2a, A3, A4)

20) Experiences and Politics, A2a
Chair: Kati Katajisto
Jenni KarimäkiPresentation: Heckler, rival, friend or foe? – Trust and the stabilization of a new political force
Vesa VaresThe question of trust and competency
Kati KatajistoExperiences and trust in politics – the case Paavo Väyrynen in 1980s

21) Experiences of Sound and Voice in History, A3
Chair: Josephine Hoegaerts
Ludovic Marionneau: ‘The president shakes the bell to no avail’: a study of performance in the parliamentary debates leading to Jacques-Antoine Manuel’s exclusion (February-March 1823)
Karen LauwersMapping acoustic spaces of loyalty and resistance by using institutional documents. The case of the Arab bureaus in French colonial Algeria (1846-1871)
Josephine HoegaertsThe historian’s ear: a challenge for those who love the silence of the archives

22) Experiences of Refuge and Terror, A4
Chair: Heikki Kokko
Outi KähäriTransnational Insecurity among the Ingrian Community – Oral History from Sweden
Johanna LeinonenRefugee Journey as an Experience, Memory, and a Metaphor
Ulla SavolainenApproaching Memory Ideologies: Ingrian Finnish Experiences and Testimonies of the Soviet Terror

14.00–14.30: Coffee (Gallery)

14.30–16.00: Joint Session (D11)

23) Panel discussion: Methodologies and Practices in Studying Experience
Chair: Pertti Haapala

Josephine Hoegaerts
Stephanie Olsen
Javier Moscoso
Ann-Catrin Östman