Over the past few years, the study of multiculturalism, as broadly understood, has emerged as a strong area of specialization at the University of Turku. Indeed, the current strategy of the University lists research on cultural interaction processes (including migration, multiculturalism, multilingualism, ethnicity and religion, and social exclusion) as one of the research areas in the “advanced development stage.” This focus builds on a longer history of research on migration, travel, and societal and cultural interaction. One of the key figures in this line of research at the University of Turku has been Professor Emeritus Auvo Kostiainen. This special issue of Diversity is published to honor his lifework.
While starting a research project or network is always a collaborative effort, it is safe to say that Kostiainen has played a central role in the development of this research area at the University of Turku. As a veteran scholar of migration and travel history, Kostiainen was an integral part in the development of mobility studies in Finland from the late 1970s onwards. Serving as Professor of European and World History at the University of Turku from 2002 until 2014, Kostiainen has been instrumental in strengthening the research focus on multiculturalism at the University of Turku. He was the leader of the Academy of Finland-funded FiDiPro program “Multiculturalism as a New Pathway to Incorporation” in 2009-2014, the head of the “Network for Research on Multiculturalism and Societal Interaction” (MCnet) in 2010-2014, and the lead coordinator of the Nordic research network “Generations, Multiculturalism, and Nordic Identity” (MCgen) in 2011-2013.
All these endeavors have been truly interdisciplinary and brought together researchers from a variety of fields. The FiDiPro program operated as a multidisciplinary effort between the Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Social Sciences until 2014. The program also inspired the establishment of the MCnet, which – thanks to the University’s strategy funding – has become the main actor in coordinating collaboration of researchers from various scholarly backgrounds working on questions related to mobility and multiculturalism.
These initiatives also have an international reach. In 2009, the renowned sociologist of multiculturalism and migration, Dr. Peter Kivisto (Augustana College, Rock Island, IL, USA), was invited as a FiDiPro Professor to the University of Turku. He was a key figure in the activities organized during the FiDiPro program, and in 2013, the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Turku conferred an honorary doctorate on him. Through the establishment of the MCgen network, the University of Turku has also strengthened Nordic cooperation between researchers studying questions related to multiculturalism, migration, and racism in Nordic societies.
The 2013 establishment of this e-journal, Diversity, is the latest result of this long-term scholarly investment, and Kostianen was behind this initiative as well. The special issue at hand includes articles written by people who have worked with Kostiainen over the years.
While Kostiainen retired from his post as Professor in June 2014, his career in research is far from over. We offer this special issue of Diversity as a token of appreciation for Professor Emeritus Kostiainen and his inspiring career in the study of mobility and multiculturalism. We hope to continue our co-operation with him in the future!
Aleksi Huhta, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of European and World History
Johanna Leinonen, Ph.D., Research Coordinator, John Morton Center for North American Studies
Mari Toivanen, Ph.D., Coordinator, Network for Research on Multiculturalism and Societal Interaction