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Personal Profile

Pirkko Sallinen-Gimpl
1940 - 2022 In memoriam

Pirkko, who was born in North Karelia, was already interested in the Evakko tradition from the beginning of her studies. Her initial interview research progressed to a larger study in 1965-75. Her task was to find out whether it would be possible to preserve Karelian cultural identity in a new environment, where Karelians were only a small minority. At this point in time, the Karelian emigration had been 'forgotten', and the surrender of Karelia was not much discussed.

Pirkko Sallinen-Gimpl received her doctorate in 1994. The dissertation, entitled "The adaptation of the Migrant Karelians - a Finnish survival story", showed how the Karelians preserved their culture in a foreign environment. The settlement of the Karelians in  Finland had contributed to bringing the eastern values ​​of the Finnish cultural tradition into public awareness. The meeting of the two cultural circles led to an interesting interaction, where the migrant Karelians continued their own traditions, but at the same time adopted features from their new environment.

Pirkko Sallinen-Gimple's extensive literary output and lecture activity covered Karelian customs and food culture. She became close to the Virkki handicraft museum, with its preservation of Karelian handicrafts and, above all, to Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki, who nurtured Karelianism. Pirkko Sallinen-Gimpl contributed to the museum's programs. She analysed the importance of Tyyne-Kerttu Virki as a conservator of Karelian culture in the article "Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki and Karalianness" ("Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki ja karjalaisuus"), in the commemorative publication "Skill required - A lifetime of work faithful to the calling", Helsinki 2007 ("Taitoa tarvitaan -kutsumukselle uskollinen elämäntyö"), readable on the website. Pirkko Sallinen-Gimple's publications also included: "Living Karelianness" ("Elävä karjalaius"); "The Karelian Cookbook", 1988 ("Karjalainen keittokirja"); "Karelian Woman", 2013 ("Karjalainen nainen"); "Muolaan morsei ja sulho evakkoreellä Hämeeseen", 2018; and the most recently published, "The Great Karelian Pie Book", SKS 2021 ("Suuri Karjalainen piirakkakirja").

The definition of 'Karelianness' was summed up by Pirkko Sallinen-Gimpl in a speech at the 70th anniversary of the Pälkjärvi Keepers' Association, 7 July 2019:

"Karelianness lives in time. The interpretation of Karelianness can change over time, or at least different emphases emerge. Sometimes you have to go back to the basics. It seems that more and more often we have to explain to outsiders what Karelia was, that it belonged to Finland, that the immigrant Karelian identity has emerged in Finland as one dimension of the common Karelian identity and that it will continue into the future. Generation after generation knows about these roots and it remains enriching and also, despite the difficulties of evacuation and resettlement, as a hopeful, happy and sympathetic, dear, and loving, spirit of Karelianism into the future".

Jarno Peltonen,

Tyyne-Kerttu Virkki Foundation, Chairman

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