Anna-Leena Siikala (1943-2016) has forged an impressive and well-respected career as a scholar of cultures. Siikala’s extensive production has contributed to strengthening the international standing of Finnish folkloristic research. Her work represents the absolute cutting edge in this field. Her studies on the methods and theories of the poetry of oral tradition are considered pioneering.
She has studied the religious customs of aboriginal populations in northern Eurasia, shamanism, mythical and historical interpretations of Kalevala-metre poems as well as methods of researching oral tradition. She has also studied how an ethnic minority group uses its mythology and tradition in seeking to revive and maintain its own language and way of life under the dominance of mainstream culture. On her numerous field study trips she has compiled extensive materials not only in Finland but in the Pacific region as well as in Russia among Finno-Ugric peoples, the Udmurts, the Komi and the Khanti in Siberia.
She has been a major influence in the science policy field both in Finland and internationally, and she has been active in leadership positions in various humanities associations at home and abroad. She has served as Professor of Folkloristics at the universities of Turku, Joensuu and Helsinki, and as Academy Professor in 1999–2004.
Siikala received the honorary title of Academician of Science in 2009.