Skip to main page content

Intangible industrial heritage – narrated knowledge, skills, and expertise among employees working in metal industry in Finland

My Session Status

2:00 PM, Monday 29 Aug 2022 (20 minutes)
Pasi Saarimäki & Anne Häkkinen The recognition of industrial heritage has typically been focused on its more material and tangible sides such as machines, products, buildings, tools, landscapes, and artefacts. Less attention has been paid to intangible traits of industrial heritage. (e.g. Sivula 2017; also Smith 2006.) In this paper, we will draw the attention to aspects of intangible industrial heritage by examining work, know-how, skills, and expertise with the local emphasis on industrial town – Varkaus – in Eastern part of Finland. Our approach to industrial heritage is based on understanding that cultural heritage is constructed in people´s participation to industrial work via socially shared and personally experienced history, and the meanings they relate to work (see Sivula 2015). We consider narrated and shared memories and experiences related to industrial work as (non-institutionalized) intangible industrial heritage per se. (see Smith 2006.) The paper is based on oral history interviews conducted during Autumn 2020 with employees working in global companies (Andritz Oy and Sumitomo SHI FW) that have specialized for boiler and energy technology for example supplying systems, equipment and services for the pulp and paper industry. Companies are engaged in a metal industry which have been practiced in Varkaus already since the late 19th century. In this paper, we discuss preliminary findings of the interview data. We examine 1) how people reminisce and construct their careers, especially acquiring, providing, and applying the knowledge and skills necessary in their work, and 2) what these narrations of the past and present can tell us about the intangible cultural elements of industrial work, skills and expertise and changes taken place in them within last forty years? Particular attention is paid to locality, translocality, and globalization and how these elements are present and constructed in oral narrations of industrial work and expertise, particularly. The paper is related to a qualitative, multidisciplinary research project People as keepers of intangible industrial heritage carried out at the University of Jyväskylä, Department of History and Ethnology, in collaboration with Museums of Varkaus (with Director of Museum Services, Hanna-Kaisa Melaranta; her proposal for TICCIH: ‘Intangible Industrial Heritage – is that a thing? Defining and recognizing Intangible Industrial Heritage in Finland’) in 2020–2022. The research will study aspects of industrial heritage from the early 19th century up to the present day, in town of Varkaus, which is expecially fruitful place to seek intangible traits of industrial heritage. There have been economically and culturally significant and versatile industry for a long time in Varkaus with strong effect on local people and their lives. (see Itkonen 2005.) The focus of the project is on intangible heritage related to work, know-how, knowledge, craftmanship, skills and expertise as well as innovation processes in the wood processing and metal industries. The research results will be drawn from considerable number of oral history interviews with owners, factory managers, foremen, engineers, office workers, experts, and labourers as well as from previously produced oral history materials, e.g. interviews, written memoirs, but also archival sources, newspapers, magazines and journals. References: Itkonen, H. (2005). Varkaus and its peole: a hundreds years. SKST 1057. Helsinki: SKS. Sivula, A. (2015). Tilaushistoria identiteettityönä ja kulttuuriperintöprosessina. Paikallisen historiapolitiikan tarkastelua. Kulttuuripolitiikan tutkimuksen vuosikirja 2015. Kulttuuripolitiikan tutkimuksen seura ry, 56–69. Sivula, A. (2017). Mitä teollinen kulttuuriperintö on? – Heikkilä, Suvi (toim.), Satakunnan teollinen kulttuuriperintö. Emil Cedercreutzin museossa 17.– 18.4.2015 pidetyn seminaarin esitelmiä. Satakunnan historiallinen seura. Harjavalta, 9–36. Smith, L. (2006). Uses of Heritage. London & New York: Routledge. The home page of People as keepers of intangible industrial heritage-project: .

My Session Status

Send Feedback

Session detail
Allows attendees to send short textual feedback to the organizer for a session. This is only sent to the organizer and not the speakers.
To respect data privacy rules, this option only displays profiles of attendees who have chosen to share their profile information publicly.

Changes here will affect all session detail pages