School of History, Classics & Archaeology

The Northern Scholars Lectures: Andrew Newby

About the lecture

Remembering the Great Finnish Famine of the 1860s: Comparative reflections from Ireland and the Scottish Highlands

By Dr Andrew Newby

This lecture will address Finland’s “Great Hunger Years” of the 1860s, and in particular the commonly held belief that this is a catastrophe that has been largely forgotten, both nationally and internationally. For various reasons, not least the fact that Finland’s domestic policies were directed by a “Home Rule” government in Helsinki, the 1860s famine has featured much less prominently in national commemoration than cognate catastrophes in, e.g. Ireland (1840s) and Ukraine (1930s). On a sub-national (regional or local) level, however, the extent of remembrance is much greater, and extensive fieldwork (2014 to present) has uncovered the existence of nearly one hundred memorials to the Great Hunger Years. The lecture will consider the implications of these local memorials in relation to Finnish national historiography and identity. Furthermore, while much of the inspiration for the study came from recent research on the commemoration of the Great Irish Famine, it will be suggested that the Highland Clearances might sometimes be a more appropriate comparator when examining the memory of Finland’s Great Hunger Years. 

About the speaker

Andrew G. Newby is a specialist in the history and society of northern Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, engaging particularly with comparative / transnational themes. He is currently Kone Foundation Senior Research Fellow at the Tampere Institute for Advanced Social Research, Finland, where he is Principal Investigator of the project, ‘“Psychological proximity” and overseas aid during Finland’s Great Hunger Years, c. 1856-68’. A graduate of the University of St. Andrews (MA Hons) and University of Edinburgh (PhD), he has previously held academic positions at the Universities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Helsinki and Aarhus. Since 2008, he has held the title of Docent in European Area & Cultural Studies (University of Helsinki). From 2010-12 he was Senior Research Fellow at Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, and from 2017-8 Marie Skłodowska Curie Senior Research Fellow at Aarhus Institute for Advanced Studies.


This lecture is part of the Northern Scholars series. It is free to attend and booking is not necessary.

Departmental seminar

As part of his Northern Scholars visit to Edinburgh, Dr Andrew Newby will also be giving a Scandinavian Studies departmental seminar in Room G.01, 50 George Square at 3.10pm on Tuesday 5th March 2019. The one-hour seminar is entitled 'Brothers Across the Øresund” – Danish Famine Aid to Sweden 1867-8' and investigates the vigorous fundraising that took place in Denmark for the people of Swedish Norrland, who were struck by famine in 1867-68.

About the Northern Scholars 

The Northern Scholars Scheme was established at the University of Edinburgh in 1956.

Its role is to foster co-operation between scholars of Denmark, Estonia, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, and colleagues in the University of Edinburgh.

Mutual areas of interest include aspects of linguistics, and historical and other cultural studies which are common to these countries and to Scotland. 

Each year, the Northern Scholars Scheme Committee sponsors visits by scholars of the member countries to Edinburgh, during which time they give departmental seminars and public lectures.

Recent Northern Scholars include Professor Felix Riede (Aarhus University), Professor Jens Peter Schjødt (Aarhus University), Dr Svetlana Pogodina (University of Latvia), Dr Danita Burke (University of Southern Denmark), and Professor Klemens Kappel (University of Copenhagen).

Are you interested in Scandinavian Studies at Edinburgh?

We are the only university in Scotland, and one of only two in the UK, to offer undergraduate honours programmes in Scandinavian Studies, enabling you to learn modern Danish, Swedish or Norwegian in the context of Scandinavian culture, past and present. We also welcome candidates for postgraduate research degrees (MSc by Research and PhD) in various aspects of Nordic languages, literature, history, culture and society.

Find out more about Scandinavian Studies at Edinburgh 

Mar 06 2019 -

The Northern Scholars Lectures: Andrew Newby

'Remembering the Great Finnish Famine of the 1860s: Comparative reflections from Ireland and the Scottish Highlands'. A free public lecture by visiting Northern Scholar Dr Andrew Newby (Tampere Institute for Advanced Social Research, Finland).

Room G.14
William Robertson Wing
Old Medical School
Doorway 4, Teviot Place