‘Finland has a unique culture.’ This is uncritically accepted by many ordinary Finns, travel writers and even foreign and Finnish academics. Why is Finnish culture accepted as being unique? What do people really mean when they term Finnish culture as ‘unique’? Is Finnish culture really a mystery – an enigma, beyond comparison; something that can never ‘make sense’?
In The Finnuit, Edward Dutton reveals Finnish ‘uniqueness’ to be a religious dogma. It reflects the modern-day religions of Romantic nationalism and its cousin Cultural Relativism which turn disempowered cultures into mysterious gods to be worshipped and awed at. And Dutton argues that Finnish culture can be ‘understood’ – like anything – through comparison. Drawing upon detailed fieldwork, he finds that Finnish culture makes sense as a diluted Greenland – the world’s most advanced Arctic culture.
Edward Dutton is an English anthropologist and journalist. He studied Theology at Durham University and Anthropology of Religion at Aberdeen University. His first book, Meeting Jesus at University: Rites of Passage and Student Evangelicals, is published by Ashgate (2008).
‘This intriguing study . . . challenges the myth of Finnish uniqueness through a remarkably direct approach . . . The study itself becomes unique by means of an original and distinctive form of argumentation.’
Dr Tarja Laine, Amsterdam University.
‘A very interesting contribution. A solid piece of scholarship. I am certain that it will prove of interest to anthropologists working on Finland . . . Thank-you again for the opportunity to review this.’
Anonymous peer-reviewer for Arctic Anthropology on an article drawn from The Finnuit.