Heino Nyyssönen is Docent of History, Political Sciences and International Relations and works at the University of Turku. In his research, Heino examines different interpretations of history and how they are viewed today as well as the concept of history politics. “Without understanding history, it’s also difficult to understand politics and vice versa”, says Heino who also emphasizes this to his students.
Heino has been interested in memory politics since his doctoral dissertation that he wrote on the politics of Hungary in the 1990’s. “Hungary is a good example of a state where history is being revised, interpreted and used to serve political purposes. In politics, the past can sometimes be more important than the future”, says Heino. Hungary’s history politics was also in the center of Heino’s book Tasavallan loppu? Unkarin demokratian romahdus (End of Republic? The Collapse of Hungary’s Democracy) published in Finnish in 2017.
“It’s important to examine what societies remember and how. When we talk about history we always also talk about the future to some extent”, Heino points out. “History helps us understand other cultures and an outsider’s perspective can give researchers an advantage in observing interpretations of history from a different point of view than someone who was brought up with them.” Heino also says that it is important to bring historical point of view to the discussion of international relations as well. “Conflicts are never based on the present alone but tend to have a long history. It would be beneficial for researchers of international relations to also understand the historical processes behind them”, he says.
Heino joined HWB in the autumn of 2015 and has been a member of our board since 2016. Especially well, he remembers the founding conference of the International Network of Historians without Borders of May 2016 where the discussion on the year 1915 in the Turkish and Armenian relations got heated at times. “That discussion proved especially well how some have a strong need to communicate their own, proper interpretations of history – even aggressively at times. This strengthened my belief in HWB’s mission and proved that there is definitely a need for an initiative like it.”