Leila Koivunen
 Professori, Yleinen historia / Professor, European and World History


+358 29 450 3449

+358 50 328 9844

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ORCID identifierhttps://orcid.org/0000-0002-5869-2949

Areas of expertise
- history of cultural interaction (19th-20th centuries), esp. between Europe and Africa; European images of Africa, Africans in Finland
- history of mobility, esp. journeys of exploration
- history of colonialism, Finland and colonialism, history of Finnish-Namibian relations
- history of science and knowing
- book history, illustration history
- material culture and exhibition medium; history of museums and exhibitions


I work as a professor of European and World History with a special emphasis in global history and history of cultural interaction. I defended my doctoral thesis in 2006 and was awarded the title of docent in 2007. I have previously worked as an assistant, senior assistant, university lecturer and postdoctoral researcher (Academy of Finland).


In my research, I have focused especially on the history of cultural encounters and interaction in the 19th and 20th centuries and the processes whereby Europeans have come to know and represent the non-Western world, especially Africa. My doctoral dissertation (2006) traced the roots of stereotyped European imagery of Africa by focusing on the illustration processes in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

I have also conducted research on the history of collecting and displaying “exotic” material cultures in the Finnish context. I’m interested in how Finnish people travelled to Africa and vice versa. Currently, I’m writing a monograph on the history of Africans in Finland with Anna Rastas.

I am also interested in the history of Finnish involvement in colonial activities during the period of Russian rule. I was one of the editors of Finnish Colonial Encounters: From Anti-Imperialism to Cultural Colonialism and Complicity (Palgrave Macmillan 2021). I organise a seminar on the history of colonialism. I have also been involved in projects that shed new light on the intertwined histories of Finland and Namibia.


Typical teaching year: Master’s seminar, supervision of MA and doctoral theses, lecture course on a changing topic of my expertise and participation in jointly taught courses.

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Last updated on 2023-17-08 at 10:49