University of Oulu

Matila, T., Mullins, P. R., & Ylimaunu, T. (2023). Empathy for the ‘other’: Neglected finnish ethnographic war photography from occupied soviet territory. Journal of War & Culture Studies, 16(3), 293–311.

Empathy for the ‘other’ : neglected Finnish ethnographic war photography from occupied Soviet territory

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Author: Matila, Tuuli1; Mullins, Paul R.2; Ylimaunu, Timo1
Organizations: 1Department of Humanities, University of Oulu, Finland
2Department of Anthropology, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, USA
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Informa, 2021
Publish Date: 2023-02-02


This article examines a series of unsettling images from the Finnish Continuation War (1941–1944) and the memories of the war that these photographs construct for contemporary Finns. We argue that these images can be viewed through Alison Landsberg’s (2004) notion of ‘prosthetic memory’, which underlines how visual media enable the acquisition of vivid memories of past events. The paper outlines how these long-ignored photographs narrate unexamined dimensions of World War II in ways that transform how Finns in particular remember the war. The images illustrate a neglected Finnish occupation of Soviet territories and the treatment of Russian civilians under Finnish rule. We argue that the images can provoke empathy for their experiences and therefor challenge traditional and nationalist Finnish war interpretations.

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Series: Journal of war and culture studies
ISSN: 1752-6272
ISSN-E: 1752-6280
ISSN-L: 1752-6272
Volume: 16
Issue: 3
Pages: 293 - 311
DOI: 10.1080/17526272.2021.2009656
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 615 History and archaeology
Copyright information: © 2021 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in Journal of War & Culture Studies on 09 Dec 2021, available at: