Pirjo Markkola

History of Child Welfare as a Present Political Concern

Professor of History in the Faculty of Social Sciences at Tampere University

Pirjo Markkola
02/12 2020
12:15-13:15, on Zoom

Professor Pirjo Markkola from Tampere University is a highly recognized historian with a broad field of expertise on Finnish and Nordic history from 1800 until today. Her research interest, documented by a vast number of publications, covers major topics such working class history, gender history, the history of family and childhood, the role of religion in Nordic societies, and the Nordic welfare model.

Currently, she is one of the driving forces behind the Finnish Centre of Excellence on the History of Experiences (HEX). Her research is characterized by curiosity and interdisciplinarity combining empirical and theoretical analyses of the Nordic societies. Professor Markkola has a long career of international research cooperation – including research stays at SDU.

She has held several positions of trust such as vice-president of The International Federation for Research in Women’s History (2000-2005), chair of Finland’s Academy research council for society and culture (2010-2013), and 2014-2016, she was in charge of the Finnish Inquiry on Child Abuse and Neglect in Institutions and Foster Homes (for the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health).

In 2020, Professor Markkola received the prestigious Gad Rausing’s Prize for outstanding humanistic research quest.


Since the 1990s, an increasing number of inquiries into the history of children’s out-of-home care have shown that child welfare has sometimes failed to protect children.
Calls for symbolic and material compensation have intensified in all countries in which inquiries into the past failures of child welfare have been pursued.

All of the Nordic countries have issued testimony-driven inquiries, which shows that the history of child welfare has become a public as well as a political concern. The Nordic countries have provided differing responses to allegations and scandals of historical child abuse within child welfare, but all of them have taken the issue seriously.

History matters in these political processes. In this presentation I will discuss the “age of inquiries” in the Nordic countries with a focus on the case of Finland in comparison to the other Nordic countries.

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Please note that the lecture will be held on Zoom only due to the current COVID-19 restrictions.