Hilma Salonen

Doctoral researcher

Kuva: Jussi Virkkumaa

Doctoral researcher Hilma Salonen from the University of Helsinki is a recipient of the Kone Foundation’s grant and will spend her time at the residence working on her non-fiction book Löylyssä naapurissa – havaintoja itäiseltä banjavyöhykkeeltä (Going to Sauna Next Door – Observations from the Eastern Banya Zone). In Saari, she intends to arrange her notes into text and search literary material for information. Funded by the Kone Foundation, the non-fiction book project aims to chart the folklore of public saunas in all its forms in Northwest Russia, the Baltic states, Ukraine and Belarus. The project examines public saunas from various perspectives and also the local manifestations of sauna culture, such as bath broom rituals, food and drink taken in the sauna, the unwritten rules of the washroom and the rhythm of throwing water on the heated stones. Sauna culture cannot be viewed as a separate entity; instead, it also reflects the recent history of Eastern Europe, the changes that have occurred in public urban facilities in the area, and the neighbourly relations in transition and their potential tensions.

I’m a researcher of Russia by profession and in my private life. I am revising my doctoral thesis on Russia’s domestic energy policy and, at the same time, writing a non-fiction book about the culture and history of public saunas in Eastern Europe together with my spouse, Otto Pipatti. In general, I’m interested in all the phenomena of the country, from the Arctic outlying districts to Moscow politics.