Congratulations to the Winners of the AASSC 2020 Publication Award

15 Sep 2020 7:48 AM | Amy Poole (Administrator)

The AASSC Executive Board would like to congratulate the 2020 winners of the AASSC Gurli Aagaard Woods Undergraduate Publication Award: Tukummeq Jensen Hansen for her paper on “Inuit Tattoos in Greenland Today: A Marker of Cultural Identity” and Iris Thatcher for her paper “From Economic Grievances to Cultural Cleavages: Exploring Reactionary Conservatism in Finland, Scandinavia and Europe.” 

Listed below are biographies of the winners and their abstracts.


Tukummeq Jensen Hansen

About the Author

Tukummeq Jensen Hansen is a born and raised Nuuk with a strong interest in her cultural heritage and decolonization. She considers herself a part of the Indigenous community, believing it is important for the Indigenous youth to practice their cultural heritage, to heal from the colonial violence that has left many with identity crisis. In Greenland, the main problem has been the clash between the Greenlandic and Danish identity, which the author herself has experienced in her adolescence. After watching the documentary “Tunniit: Retracing the Lines of Inuit” she was determined to get her own Inuit tattoos, to proudly claim her Inuk identity. After getting her Inuit tattoos, Tukummeq began wondering whether or not other young Inuit got their Inuit tattoos for the same reason, and this is how her essay “Inuit Tattoos in Greenland Today: A Marker of Cultural Identity” became a research project for an exam paper that later became the essay it is today. She is currently studying at the University of Greenland, Ilisimatusarfik, where she just finished the second year of her bachelor and is about to start on her third and last year of her bachelor’s degree. This summer she participated in an archaeological field school that was situated in the capital of Nuuk, where the main focus of the excavation was about how the Moravians influenced the Inuit way of living around the beginning of the colonization of Greenland. She considers herself very lucky to have been able to participate in an archaeological excavation, considering the state of the world due to Covid-19. 

Abstract: Inuit Tattoos in Greenland Today: A Marker of Cultural Identity

The essay “Inuit Tattoos in Greenland Today: A Marker of Cultural Identity,” written by Indigenous author Tukummeq J. Hansen,  is about the young Inuit in Greenland who have chosen to get Inuit tattoos to claim the identity that has been taken away from the Inuit when the colonization by the Danish Rule took place around year 1721. For years, Greenland has been under Danish colonial rule, which has left the Indigenous People of Greenland with trauma that still haunts them today, both socially and psychologically. Many of the youths in Greenland, especially in Nuuk have been asking themselves the same question: Am I Greenlandic or Danish? The search for identity that has left many young Inuit angry and confused has been difficult to express, before now. Many young Inuit have chosen to use Inuit tattoos to heal and strengthen their cultural identity, proudly flaunting their beautiful markings on their hands and faces. This phenomenon has been seen in Indigenous communities around the world that have experienced similar colonial violence, which is also why the documentary Tunniit: Retracing the Line of Inuit Tattoos by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril, is mentioned in the essay. After scouring through social media posts that focus on Inuit tattoos and speaking with both tattooed and non-tattooed Inuit, the essay “Inuit Tattoos in Greenland Today: A Marker of Cultural Identity” came to be.

Iris Thatcher

About the Author

Iris is from the greater Seattle area and has been surrounded by Nordic culture for all of her life. Her mom is from Finland, and she learned how to speak Finnish at a young age. With this strong connection to the Nordic region, she translated her personal interests to academic ones.

In 2019, she received her BA in Political Economy and Finnish Language with a minor in Scandinavian Studies from the University of Washington, Seattle. This allowed her to cultivate an academic niche, where she generally looked at European affairs, but with a Nordic emphasis. Throughout her time as an undergraduate, she delved into topics like Nordic innovation, culture, and European Union relations. In summer 2018, she studied abroad in Berlin, Germany and examined the rise of right-wing movements both in the U.S. and in Europe. This experience ultimately inspired her senior capstone, which won the Gurli Aagaard Woods Undergraduate Publication Award.

Following her graduation from the University of Washington, Iris has been working in the nonprofit sector in the Seattle area. Particularly, she has centered her attention on those organizations that have a global focus due to her abiding commitment to the Nordic region. In the fall, she will be attending Georgetown University to start her Master of Arts in German and European Studies at the Walsh School of Foreign Service. She is looking forward to furthering her Nordic focus and bettering her Finnish language comprehension while in DC.

Abstract: From Economic Grievances to Cultural Cleavages: Exploring Reactionary Conservatism in Finland, Scandinavia and Europe

Right-wing populism has become a defining concept of 21st century Europe. With the 2010 Eurozone Crisis, 2015 Refugee Crisis, and the fallout from Brexit, many radical right-wing parties are calling for a transfer of power from European Union elites to the people. However, is the theoretical concept of populism specific enough to describe the rhetoric, sentiments, actions, and consequences of these contemporary movements?

This paper argues that an alternative theory should be used: reactionary conservatism. Drawing on Christopher Parker’s and Mark Barreto’s Change They Can’t Believe In, this paper elucidates the difference between populism and reactionary conservatism by using Finland as a case study. Specifically, it looks at Finland’s dominant right-wing party, the Perussuomalaiset or Finns Party (PS). The PS is typically overlooked due to its lack of outward xenophobia under the careful supervision of Timo Soini. Nonetheless, a strong radical faction of the PS has emerged, spearheaded by Jussi Halla-aho.

A fundamental shift can be seen in the party’s policy focus by comparing the transfer of leadership from the economically minded Timo Soini to the cultural preservationist Jussi Halla-aho. Issues like immigration, “Finnishness,” and cultural belonging to welfare are now emphasized in racially divided ways. As a result, this paper asserts that Soini embodies more traditional populist elements, whereas Halla-aho represents the reactionary conservative.

With the findings from this case study in Finland, a useful theoretical distinction can be made for future analyses of radical right-wing parties in Scandinavia and the rest of Europe. Applying reactionary conservatism will be critical in understanding these parties’ goals, methods, and policy focuses and in predicting how these parties might respond to future political events.

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