Namibia Digital Repository

Contemporary Finnish Research on Namibia

On the Way to Whiteness: Christianization, Conflict and Change in Colonial Ovamboland, 1910-1965

The published version of Kari Miettinen's dissertation, University of Joensuu. Miettinen is now a post-doctoral researcher at the same institution, renamed the University of Eastern Finland.

By and large, the Finnish contribution to Namibian historiography has been overwhelmingly on Ovamboland for obvious reasons. Some studies, however, such as Siiskonen's and Salokoski's give us ideas of Ovamboland's place in late pre-colonial Namibia. In addition, they note the roles of kings and headmen in procuring labor for the emerging colonial state.13 In the post-colonial era, several Finnish Academics have produced interesting dissertations on non-Ovamboland contexts. Wolfgang Zeller (German, but based in Helsinki) wrote about Katima Mulilo and social dynamics in Caprivi.14 Julia Janis has written critically about the tourism industry in Namibia.15 Finally, Lalli Metsola has completed a dissertation on veteran affairs and the politics of memory about the liberation struggle.16

I have been accumulating and digitizing Finnish Namibiana materials as one of my projects with this Omeka website, and a few more have recently been completed. Martti Eirola's dissertation,17 and bibliographic work18 are next in line. I have just also digitized a biography of Martti Rautanen, published by the Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Church.19 Kari Miettinen's dissertation on Christianity will is also a new addition to the Namibia Digital Repositoy.20 Finally, you can also take a look at the pilot study report of the 1983 Joensuu research project "Cultural and Social Change in Ovamboland, 1870-1915."21

Trade and Socioeconomic Change in Ovamboland, 1850-1906

The published version of Dr. Harri Siiskonen's dissertation, University of Joensuu. Siiskonen has been involved in Namibian Studies for over three decades.

I had the opportunity to visit Joensuu, in eastern Finland, in August 2015 for a week of long reading, long writing, and long walks in the woods. The ultimate working holiday. I spent an afternoon with Dr. Harri Siiskonen in his office at the University of Eastern Finland (Yliopisto Itä-Suomen), talking about Namibian studies and different projects he and others were working on. He provided me with copies of some of his books and articles, including a very interesting text on Forestry in Namibia.22 He also provided me with copies of a finding aid which he and a few colleagues drew up regarding archival sources and publications on Namibia available in Finnish archives and Libraries. I have digitized this source and am putting it into the “Finding Aids” collection in the Namibia Digital Repository. Hopefully this can help others find out what is available in which archives.

The eternal questions remains, though, regarding these sorts of sources: Tiedätkö miten puhua Suomen kielen?


13 See Märta Salokoski, How Kings are Made, How Kingship Changes: A Study of Rituals and Ritual Change in Pre-Colonial and Colonial Owamboland, Namibia. Helsinki, Helsinki University Press, 2006). Salokoski had been working on her PhD for over twenty years. [LINK]

14Wolfgang Zeller, What Makes Borders Real : In the Namibia-Zambia and Uganda-South Sudan Borderlands (Helsinki: Department of Political and Economic Studies, 2015). [LINK]

15 Julia Jänis, The Tourism-Development Nexus in Namibia : A Study on National Tourism Policy and Local Tourism Enterprises' Policy Knowledge (Helsinki: Department of Political and Economic Studies, 2011). [LINK]

16 Lalli Metsola, Reintegration as Recognition: Ex-combatant and veteran politics in Namibia (Helsinki: Department of Political and Economic Studies, 2015). [LINK]

17 Martti Eirola, The Ovambogefahr: The Ovamboland Reserve in the Making – Political Responses of the Kingdom of Ondonga to the German Colonial Power, 1884-1910 (Rovaniemi: Studia Historica Septentrionalia, 1992). [LINK]

18 Eirola, Namibiana in Finland. [LINK]

19 Matti Peltola, Nakambale: The Life of Dr. Martin Rautanen (Windhoek: Finnish Evangelical Lutheran Mission, 2002). [LINK]

20 Kari Miettinen, On the Way to Whiteness: Christianization, Conflict and Change in Colonial Ovamboland, 1910-1965 (Helsinki: Suomalaisen Kirjallisuuden Seura, 2005). [LINK]

21 Martti Eirola, Seppo Rytkönen, Harri Siiskonen, Seppo Sivonen,The Cultural and Social Change in Ovamboland, 1870-1915 (Joensuu: Joensuun Korkeakoulu Historian, Maantieteen ja Muiden Aluetieteiden Osaston Julkaisuja, 1983). [LINK]

22 Antti Erkkilä and Harri Siiskonen, Forestry in Namibia 1850-1990. (Joensuu: Joensuun yliopisto, Metsätieteellinen tiedekunta, 1992).

Contemporary Finnish Research on Namibia