Dr. Raija Warkentin

Dr. Raija Warkentin

Professor Emeritus

Office Location: 
Office Hours: 
Mon-Fri 8:30 am - 4:30 pm
Academic Qualifications: 
  • 1989 PhD (Anthropology), University of Alberta
  • 1980 MA (General Ethnology), University of Helsinki
  • 1969 MA (Finnish Language), University of Helsinki
  • 1965 BA (Finnish Language), University of Helsinki
Research Interests: 

I have recently completed working with Kaarina Kailo of Oulu University, Finland and Jorma Halonen of the Thunder Bay Finnish-Canadian Historical Society on the sauna in North America. In 1999 we organized a Canada-wide sauna writing competition that resulted in a book titled Sweating with Finns: Sauna Stories from North America, published by The Center for Northern Studies, as well as a number of smaller publications.

I am also studying Finnish-Canadian women’s health based on interviews of immigrant women in the Thunder Bay area. This research has indicated that while some Finnish women remember old folk healing methods that their parents brought to Canada from Finland, others have learned Native Canadian healing methods or chosen modern alternative ways of healing. Most women, however, depend on mainstream medicine.

I have collaborated with Helena Miettinen on Finnish-Canadians and Finnish-Americans, who as children (in the 1930s) followed their parents to Russia to build an egalitarian workers’ society. Now as seniors, they reminisce about their life events, which were not what their parents had planned for them. Through the oral history method, I am trying to see, what helped them through disappointments and difficulties in their lives.

I have also collaborated with Mirja Mikkonen on Finnish-Russian marriages in Finland. Finland is quite hostile to foreigners, especially towards Russians. Yet, Russians form the largest foreign population in the country. I have interviewed Russian wives and their Finnish husbands to get their views on their marriages in this environment.

I conducted research among the Bira of northeastern Congo, Africa, in the 1970s and 1980s and published several articles and books on African Bira child rearing, families, and religion. The civil war prevented me from returning to the country for almost 20 years. Finally, in November-December 2005, there was a lull in hostilities and I was able to spend three weeks in Congo. I looked for the villages, where I previously lived in. I found the villages destroyed and heard about atrocities committed to people, who had fled by foot about 150 kilometers, spent a couple of years in refugee camps, and were now returning to start their lives again. I was struck by their optimism and eagerness to return to normal life. I am preparing an article about how people without western psychological counseling manage to overcome trauma.

Major External Funding

  • 2003 Senate Research Committee ($2,000)
  • 2001 Niilo & Helen M. Alhon rahasto (FIM 5,000)
  • 2001 Senate Research Committee ($2,000)
  • 1999 Senate Research Committee ($4,358)
  • 1997 SSHRC Research Development Fund ($2,000)
  • 1996 SSHRC Aid to Small Universities Grant ($10,311) to Patricia Jasen and Raija Warkentin