Accepted Paper:

Narratives and the cultural heritage of Koli National Park in Finnish-Russian borderland  


Kirsi Laurén (University of Eastern Finland)

Paper short abstract:

Koli Natural Park in Eastern Finland is famous for its’ national landscapes and intangible cultural heritage. The presentation focuses on the contemporary environmental narratives that represent the culturally constructed Koli as a place of mythic and utopian past.

Paper long abstract:

This presentation focuses on the contemporary environmental narratives of Koli National Park in Eastern Finland near the Russian border. The narratives of memories, experiences and images of Koli are written by Finns who have travelled there. The research questions are: What are the meanings of intangible cultural heritage of Koli for the travelers? How are the meanings expressed in the personal narratives? The analysis is based on texts written by authors who took part in a public writing competition in Finland 2013. Participants were asked to tell about their experiences after they had visited and hiked in the national parks of Eastern Finland.

In addition to the nature values of Koli it is considered valuable because of its intangible cultural heritage. During the era of National Romanticism and Karelianism at the turn of the 19th and 20th century the Koli landscape inspired Finnish artists. Through their works (e.g. paintings, literature, music compositions) Koli impressed itself into the minds of Finns. In consequence, Koli functioned as a spiritual symbol in the struggle for national identity. Today Koli is one of the most famous national landscapes in Finland and it still represents the mythic spirit of Kalevala (Finnish national epic) and a place of a utopian past of Finns. Retelling previous studies, the narratives are emphasizing the national significance of Koli's landscapes. Longing for a place of the romantic past and looking for Kalevala-like landscapes are present in the narratives of modern travelers as well.

Panel Heri006
Heritage as social, economic and utopian resource