Mila Oiva

Historians can bring a much needed time-perspective to a discussion and remind people about the speed and pace of change.

Mila Oiva, a senior researcher at Tallinn University, has focused on information circulation and cross-border transfer of knowledge in her work. Her dissertation dealt with the development of marketing in foreign trade between Poland and the Soviet Union and has later studied, for example, the development of global information transmission by examining the spread of news coverage of Bobrikov’s murder around the world.

Mila has also worked as a researcher in the University of Turku’s project Ancient Kingdoms and Founders of Russia: Pseudohistory and Historical Politics in 21st Century Finland. The pseudo-history project focused on the use of history looked at the online discussion about the Middle Ages and the different conceptions and interpretations of history that appear in it. “People have always presented different interpretations and ideas about history, and now these discussions have moved to the internet. The purpose of the project was to find out how the transition has affected the discussions on history”, Mila introduces the project. In this research, she is particularly interested in the different ways of understanding history and the conflicts that arise from them: “In online discussions, the fact that the discussion about history is often also a discussion about the present and the future comes out very clearly. A brilliant past is seen to also guarantee a brilliant future”.

Mila is currently running a project that studies the worldviews conveyed by Soviet and Estonian newsreels in the long term. The multidisciplinary project utilizes computer-aided research methods, such as vector modeling of images, network analysis, and various applications of language technology. “It is interesting to look at how the changes in political currents are reflected in the material, and on the other hand, what kind of long-term continuities can be observed,” states Mila.

In society, Mila sees the task of the historian as a producer and communicator of information. “The task of historians is to bring a time perspective to the discussion and remind us of the speed of change. Some things have changed a lot in the last 10 years, while other things never seem to change. Already in ancient Rome, there was a complaint that the youth is corrupt!”, she points out.

In our association, Mila is particularly interested in developing practical ways to bring historical knowledge and a broader context of the past into social discussion. “Historical understanding based on research data helps to deal with social change and various conflicts,” states Mila. She acts in the working group that develops the association’s history dialogue and reflects on how difficult it is for historical concepts to change: “History involves not only an individual’s understanding of the world, but often also the whole identity”.

Mila has been a member of the association since its foundation and has served as a board member since 2020.

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