Tuulikki Pietilä

Member of AfriStadi's steering committee

Tuulikki Pietilä is Senior Lecturer in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Helsinki.

Her interest in Africa was incited as she was involved in a non-profit association established by the student unions of UH and Helsinki School of Economics. It aimed at importing selected food products directly from Africa and paying of higher producer prices than usual. This led her to write her MA Thesis on the sociocultural impacts of coffee cultivation in Tanzania and eventually to do fieldwork for my PhD in Kilimanjaro on women’s trading activities. The twelve-month stay enabled a deep immersion in Chagga people’s daily lives and Kiswahili language (that she had already studied for a couple of years prior to the trip). She has since studied several topics in various places, with a general interest in what happens societally when ‘regimes of value’ of divergent origins and power meet. The research on trading women in Kilimanjaro was published as a book entitled Gossip, Markets, and Gender: How Dialogue Constructs Moral Value in Post-Socialist Kilimanjaro (University of Wisconsin Press, 2007). The book was awarded the Aidoo-Snyder prize by the African Studies Association of the United States in 2009.

In South Africa, she has investigated ideas of ownership and authorship as well as ways of arranging creative work in the music industry: Contracts, Patronage and Mediation: The Articulation of Global and Local in the South African Recording Industry (Palgrave Macmillan, 2015). As part of this research, she studied youth music styles popular in South Africa at the time, such as kwaito and hip hop. Furthermore, she studied production and value chains of ‘world music’ of African origins in Europe. Currently, she examines fashion designers’ work in Johannesburg as well as competing claims of entitlement to ‘heritage’ items.

Research interests

  • marketplaces, music industry, music genres, fashion industry
  • authorship, ownership, brands
  • gender, morality, regimes of value, discourses