A research fellow at the Finnish Academy Oula Silvennoinen holds the title of docent of European History at the University of Helsinki. In his research, Oula has focused on the difficult periods in the Finnish 20th-century history. His work deals with themes that still evoke strong differing opinions and he has researched Finland’s collaboration with Nazi Germany during World War II and the history of Finnish fascism during the interwar period. In 2017 Oula – and his cowriters Marko Tikka and Aapo Roselius – were granted the Finnish State Award for Public Information for their book Fascism in Finland. The Heralds of the Black Dawn.
“I have always been fascinated by history as a narrative. It can be complicated and confusing but it also raises interesting developments and themes”, says Oula and continues: “In this also lies the importance of history. Even though historical research itself is an inaccurate tool, it is all we have when trying to find out where we come from, where we are and where we are going. We cannot see into the future and therefore the role of the past is extremely important.”
Oula says that he has been searching for consilience through his career: “I believe that when you dig into something thoroughly you can bring clarity to it. As our knowledge increases, our understanding increases as well. And through understanding, we can start searching for agreement.”
Oula is a founding member of Historians without Borders in Finland and was a board member from 2016 to 2018. He also remembers well the founding conference of the International Network of Historians without Borders. “The number of attendees, shared interest in the subject matter and interesting exchanges proved that creating the Network is a step in the right direction and that its work will be valuable also in the future.”