Added: December 3, 2016 – Last updated: December 3, 2016


Speaker: Koho Satu

Title: Sexual Violence and Shame in the middle of a War

Subtitle: Intersections of A Place, Gender and Humanity in Katja Kettu´s novel Kätilö (The Midwife)

Institution: Department of Gender Studies, Central European University

Place: Budapest, Hungary

Date: November 26, 2014

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century, 21st Century | European History: Finnish History | Representations: Literary Texts / Katja Kettu


Link: -


Speaker: Koho Satu, Taiteiden ja kulttuurin tutkimuksen laitos (Department of Art and Culture Studies), Jyväskylän yliopisto (University of Jyväskylä)


»In her lecture Koho will discuss representations of war, sexual violence and shame in Katja Kettu´s award-winning novel The Midwife (Kätilö, 2011). The novel tells the weird liaison of a Finnish midwife and a German SS-officer who meet in the summer of 1944 on the coast of The Arctic Ocean. This framework allows the author to outline the position of women in the midst of the war´s cruelties. The Midwife conjures to life a long-suppressed history: prison camps, sexual violence and war-brides.
Koho´s perspective regarding this triad of place, power and a narrating self is not only spatial but also corporeal and focused on the emotional. Is it possible for a woman to be confident and to take her own position in her “impossible world”, in the middle of a war? Where does she feel safe (topophilia)? How is the fear of certain places and situations (topophobia) represented? What kind of a place is the body? How are the emotions reflecting to the environment? In her novel Katja Kettu describes the changing status of one – fictional – Finnish woman at the end of the Second World War and the Lapland war, a quite embarrassing period in Finland´s political history. At the same time Kettu describes the landscapes of a trauma and makes difficult questions visible and ponderable. Although The Midwife represents Finnish contemporary literature and deals with the past, the theme it touches – a war from an individual perspective – is universal and current.« (Source Central European University)

Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of Finland | Literature: Finnish literature / Katja Kettu