I'm in teh Finland

Listening to ur tango

There are many reason's for August's frankly shameful post tally, but the most interesting one by far is that I've moved to Helsinki. Here I'll do an exchange term in a faculty of musicology which specialises in the semiotics of music (awesome?) while immersing myself thoroughly in Finnish culture and (potentially) frozen lakes.

For the purposes of this blog, though, I'll be hunting for Finnish music as well. I've not really got into anything at a deeper level so far except the marvellous Finnish tango, old and new, which I'll be following up on with a big post in the near future.

Any readers from here want to meet up or anyone with general Finland/Helsinki tips, feel free to contact me.


Therese Quinn said...

Hi. I came across your great blog while searching finland blackface after having a series of encounters with folks in blackface here in Helsinki (where I am living for five months, until the end of Dec). The most recent surprised me; on a link to a lesbian fest's events (www.tribadit.fi) there was an image of a blackface performer, Kaisu Kurki. I didn't go the performance tonight but might check out it/her out another time; googling around I found another blackface image from her regular performance, so perhaps this is an ongoing part of her show.

The other black/brown-face wearers were all students participating in beginning of the year events--a group of fro-wearing, black-faced Michael Jacksons with a coffin (RIP Michael) and a "tribe" of "Indian Chiefs" with feathered head-gear, all walking around the Hakaniemi area in groups.

From a US/dyke/leftist/feminist perspective, this is challenging. I'm mulling over my disturbed response.

Where are you studying? My field is art education and I'm teaching at U Helsinki.

Thanks for the great work and links. My email is therese.quinn@helsinki.fi

Therese Quinn

Birdseed said...

Hi Therese!

One of my old posts about blackface contra whatever generated the response (via twitter) that the reason blackface is so offensive is because of its history. While I do think there is something inherently wrong about the whole thing anyway, perhaps our strong reaction (I would have felt similarly) is because we're familiar with the historical background? Maybe the reason they're so accepting here is some sort of innocence?

I definitely prefer that interpretation to the suggestion (which links into my next blogging topic, which I'll really try to post tomorrow) that it might be a post-mo--, er, hipster irony thing. That they think they can get away with it because they're having a knowing laugh. A third possibility would be subversion, but I don't think your drunken students are that crafty. :) I think I've seen the "indians" around as well.

But honestly, my perspective is limited on this. Actually, if you've got links and ideas to share on the subject I'd love to have a guest post about it on here, I've always wanted one of those.

Therese Quinn said...

Hi, back. I think that the "cases" have different back-drops. To me, it's more likely that the freshmen are playing dress-up, and all costumes are OK to use. That's close to innocence (I guess). But in the context of queer gender-play, drag king-ing, and so on, it's harder for me to use that term. Closer to hipster irony? This US trans scholar has written about the topic--maybe he should be the guest blogger! (I couldn't find the paper online): http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p114763_index.html

On the history-yes, the US history with blackface is intense, but apparently there was a world-wide use of the form. And Finland has had internal debates about versions of blackface used on candy, so it's not that this topic is completely new: http://www.hs.fi/english/article/Fazer+to+eliminate+liquorice+mascot+criticised+as+racist+stereotype/1135224346504

I expect I will have more interesting encounters and discussions about this during my time in Helsinki. And will learn, I hope, about my own cultural biases. Therese