Winter seminar 2015: Athens

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The annual Winter Seminar of the IASR found its way this year to Athens, Greece, which we were quite lucky to have as our destination—not only because of the urgency of the current socio-economical situation in Greece (which calls for serious consideration) but also because of the adorable weather & the unsurpassable ancient sites…

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The Athenian Acropolis, including the Parthenon, was introduced to us in admirable detail by the director of The Finnish Institute in Athens, Jari Pakkanen (with special expertise in applying modern technology to the study of ancient Greek archeology).

photo by Pirjo Nikander]

We were fortunate to be hosted, too, by the The Finnish Institute at Athens for our internal seminars (see the post further down).

[photo by Marjaana Rautalin]

Many of us were surprised by the relative quietness of life on the streets in Athens—though of course February is nothing like a holiday season in Greece.

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Thanks to Jukka Tyrkkö (all the pics by him, unless otherwise mentioned), one of our IASR fellows, for the elegantly taken photographs showing a glimpse of the beauty of Greek nature & culture!

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Athens 2015: seminar with locals

An integral part of the winter seminar tradition are the internal seminars held at a chosen location, and this year we were fortunate to be hosted by the The Finnish Institute at Athens.


Dr. Jari Pakkanen, the present director, got our seminar started with an introduction into the activities of the Finnish Institute, to be followed by internal discussion and lectures by Greek scholars.

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The first visiting speaker Sokratis Koniordos, professor of sociology at the University of Crete, dealt with Ongoing Greek crisis and its prospects, tracing the links between the global economic bubble of 2008 and Greece’s current situation.

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The second speaker, Thanos Veremis, professor of modern history at the University of Athens, addressed the somewhat overlooked story of Greece’s Ottoman Past, with various insights into the development of the Greek segmented society.

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In addition to the lectures, we held three internal seminars dedicated to three different topics: different takes on wellbeing; the challenges of translating research results into practice or public policy; and the relationship between art and scientific work. The fruits of these will be discussed later, also in this blog!

[Photos by Pertti Alasuutari and Marjaana Rautalin]

Athens 2015: people

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As part of our Winter seminar in 2015, we were also brought in touch—through one of our IASR fellows, Anna Rastas—with ANASA, African Cultural Center in Athens, Greece.


Over at ANASA, we had a chance to gain first-person perspectives into the life of 1st and 2nd generation immigrants in Greece, with the interchange brought to its full fruition by an intercultural experiment in collective drumming.


The reception and discussions were chaired by Natasa Chanta-Martin and Michael Afolayan, the latter of whom gave excellent teaching in African drumming as well!

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As for the other activities during the winter seminar trip, we found an unlikely favorite restaurant for our daily meals—a very reasonably priced Skoumbri, where we went twice.

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Thanks to Risto Heiskala (on the left), IASR’s present director, and Maiju (on the right), for organizing everything!

In addition to Risto, the picture on the left shows also the two other
permanent fellows, Jorma Sipilä (who founded the Institute when he was the
Rector of the University of Tampere, although the Institute was organized
differently at the time—and the present IASR was known as UTACAS) and Pertti Alasuutari (the first director of the UTACAS).

[Photos by Pirjo Nikander and Jarkko Bamberg]