Alumni of the Month, November 2022

The November 2022 edition of the HCAS Alumni Gallery features Jane Cowan and Maijastina Kahlos.
Jane Cowan

I am Professor Emerita of Anthropology at the University of Sussex, Brighton where, between 1991-2020, I taught courses on anthropology, gender, human rights and ethnographic methods, and co-founded and directed the interdisciplinary Sussex Rights and Justice Research Centre (now called the Centre for Rights and Anti-Colonial Justice). I am currently President of the Society for the Anthropology of Europe. An anthropologist and ethnomusicologist by training, my research has addressed gendered practices of social dancing in northern Greece, petitioning the League of Nations and ritualised performances of state responsibility for human rights at the United Nations Universal Periodic Review.  

During my time as the Jane and Aatos Erkko Visiting Professor in 2018-19, my research focused on the post-Versailles moment in Europe, which marked the demise of empires and recognition of new nation-states yet also the transformation of up to 30 million people into national minorities. I have been tracing the process of “making minorities” from the vantage point of letters sent to the League of Nations on minorities and Macedonia, and the encounters, collaborations and resistances they generated among minority claimants, internationalist allies, international bureaucrats and state representatives.

My year at HCAS gave me not only the (justly commended) "freedom to think” and time to write but an opportunity to be inspired by a vibrant community of passionate scholars. Getting acquainted with their work enriched and challenged my thinking. The atmosphere of friendly, respectful intellectual exchange so carefully nurtured by the Collegium staff enabled countless stimulating conversations and pleasurable sociability. I loved getting to know the beautiful, walkable city of Helsinki, its myriad watery spaces, its sauna culture.

Maijastina Kahlos

I am a scholar of ancient Roman history and Latin literature, specialised in the late Roman history, the migration period, and the Christianization of the Mediterranean world. I spent two terms as a Core Fellow at HCAS, first in 2011-14 and the second 2019-21. During the first term, I worked on the religious dissenters in the late Roman Empire, and during the second one, on Roman uses of ‘barbarians’ in the political, social, and religious struggles in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages.

Both fellowships were decisive in my intellectual development, as they set me into dialogue and collaboration with people coming from other disciplines as well as from different cultural backgrounds. For me, personally, the most significant impact was to get out of the box of my own academic field. It is telling that even though I worked foremostly on my projects, I got into co-organising seminars and colloquia at HCAS such as “Emperors and the Divine – Rome and its Influence” (2014) and “Mediterranean Flows” (2020). I enjoyed wonderful collegiality and professional support at HCAS, and my time there brought me lifelong friends around the world. I am now working as principal researcher in the University of Lisbon.