Doctoral dissertation: From the cunning Jews to the dangerous Muslims: Decent racism in the Finnish press today and before the Second World War

Main funder

Funds granted by main funder (€)

  • 26 000,00

Project timetable

Project start date01/01/2021

Project end date30/06/2021


The Jews are cunning parasites, the embodiments of evil, greasy and repulsive – at least according to the texts that were published in Finnish newspapers and magazines in the turn of the 20th century. Back then, the press was not very worried about being politically correct, and the racist attitudes are very explicit and visible. Today, racism is not visible in the press texts, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist. One of racism's most hazardous sides is that it keeps transforming, and hides itself in the midst of a seemingly correct everyday discussion of social issues. A big part of that discussion goes on in the media, which is why the established, high quality media give an excellent view to what the "appropriate", "acceptable" racism of a given time looks like. In Europe, today's racism is very often veiled in Islamophobia.

In my article dissertation I ask: How much and in what ways have the press texts constructed or maintained racism in Finland during the years 1855–1939 and 2015–2019? In order to answer that question, I will compare the Finnish newspaper and magazine texts that were written about the refugees and the asylum seekers during the years 2015–2019 to the newspaper and magazine texts that were written about the Jews during the years 1855–1939. I believe that the texts from a hundred years ago will function as a mirror that will help identify and see the racist content in today's media texts. At the same time it will show what has changed in our attitudes during the last 100–150 years, and what has not.

The racist attitudes of the Finnish media have been researched from the 1990s on. According to the studies, the refugees, the asylum seekers and the immigrants are systematically connected with crime, problems and unfounded asylum seeking. Juha Rekola writes that the minorities are so often presented in the media in connection to problems that they have began to look like "problem people." They either are a problem, they have a problem, or they will cause problems. In almost 74 per cent of the press articles Rekola studied, the minority members were presented in connection to a mention of crime, threat or conflict of interests.

Only few studies have been made on the Finnish press texts about the Jews in the turn of the 20th century, and there has been no systematic content analysis on how the Jews were represented in the Finnish press before the Second World War.

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Last updated on 2023-23-05 at 12:37