Ordinary Finns and Minority Folk: The Representation of Minorities and Colonialism in History Education in Finland


  • Tanja Kohvakka Åbo Akademi University


History Education, Minorities, Textbook Research


Although the population of Finland has always been culturally and linguistically diverse, history education in Finland has nonetheless long excluded the history of its minorities and its colonial past. Instead, history education has portrayed Finland as a historically homogeneous nation-state. This article examines the representation of minorities in Finland and the portrayal of colonialism in 18 history textbooks used in Finnish basic education, written in both Finnish and Swedish. It uses discourse analysis to investigate how the selected history textbooks discuss minorities and colonialism within their texts. The study finds that there are significant differences between textbooks written in Finnish and Swedish, the latter including more information of, and critical perspectives on, minorities and colonialism. Nonetheless, many minority groups remain invisible in all the analysed textbooks. Finally, the textbooks, for their part, mainly associate colonialism with overseas activities and do not delve into Nordic colonialism in Sápmi.


Tanja Kohvakka, Åbo Akademi University

Tanja Kohvakka is a PhD researcher at the Faculty of Education and Welfare Studies, Åbo Akademi University, Finland. Her dissertation examines the representation of minorities in history education in Finland.