Mila Oiva

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

A postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Turku, Mila Oiva focuses in her research especially on the circulation and transnational transformation of knowledge. Mila wrote her doctoral dissertation on the development of marketing in the Polish-Soviet foreign trade. Later she has researched the development of global information circulation by examining how the news of the murder of the Governor-General of Finland Nikolay Bobrikov spread through international news outlets.


Currently Mila works as a researcher at The Ancient Finnish Kings research project at the University of Turku. The three-year project studies Finnish and Russian language internet discussions on medieval pasts and pseudohistory. It focuses on history politics and the use of history by examining internet discussions on the Middle Ages and the different interpretations and perceptions of history present in the discussions. “People have always presented different interpretations and views on history, and now these discussions have moved to the internet. At the project we want to find out how the move has affected the discussion”, Mila presents the project. She is particularly interested in different ways of understanding history and the conflicts that stem from that: “When we discuss history we often also discuss the present and the future. This can be particularly well seen at internet discussions. A glorious past is often perceived to also guarantee a glorious future”.


Mila sees the public role of historians as producers of knowledge as well as communicators. “Historians can bring a much needed time-perspective to a discussion and remind people about the speed and pace of change. Within the last ten years we have seen rapid change for better in some areas where as some things seem to never change at all. Already in ancient Rome there were complains about the youth being corrupted”, she points out.


At HWB Mila is especially interested in developing practical ways of bringing historians’ knowledge and wider context of the past in to public discussion. “An understanding of history which is based on academic research helps us process societal change and different kinds of conflicts”, Mila says. She is active at our History Dialogue working group and is contemplates how slowly our perceptions of history change: “History doesn’t only help us understand the world better, it often shapes our whole identity”.


Mila has been a member of HWB Finland from the very beginning and in 2020 she joined the board.

Find Mila