Amos Anderson Fellow Juha Isotalo examines the oral sources of the Histories of Herodotus.

Cultural history researcher Juha Isotalo was chosen as Amos Anderson Fellow for 2021, at the Finnish Institute in Rome. Isotalo’s doctoral research Truth in ’Histories’. Herodotus as a narrator and his subjects revealing their truth of the past examines the conceptions of truth of Herodotus, historian of antiquity.

Amos Anderson fellowship includes working for three months in Villa Lante, the Finnish Institute in Rome. The fellowship is granted yearly to a doctoral researcher, post-doc researcher or anyone possessing an equivalent degree, whose research is focused on the fields of Roman and Italian history, cultural heritage of the antiquity, classical archaeology, classical philology and art history. Applicants whose research topic combines art and economical studies have priority, and the main publishing language of the research results must be Swedish. Three precedent fellows have been Tuomo Nuorluoto (2018), Asta Kihlman (2019) and Frederick Whitling (2020).

In his doctoral dissertation, Isotalo is exploring the ways in which Herodotus conveys the historical truth, as well as the social identities and the concepts of history of his sources. The dissertation’s aim is to provide new tools to analyse truth allegations in the era of ”alternative truths”. During his Amos Anderson fellowship Isotalo will also be working on, as part of study of his doctoral dissertation, a scientific article analysing the oral sources of Herodotus, entitled Muntliga källor i Herodotos Historia. Apart from the interpretations he agrees with, Herodotus also presents perceptions of the past he doesn’t believe in. The analysis of these concepts reveals how Herodotus himself analysed the data he deemed incorrect, while justifying its presentation. On the other hand, the examination of his oral sources exposes how shared perceptions contributed in building communities’ identities, their social truths and the ways and practices of remembering.

Isotalo graduated as Master in Humanities at the University of Turku in the faculty of cultural history, and started his doctoral studies there in 2018. In his dissertation, he elaborates on the research questions that had already come up in his master’s thesis. In 2017 the association Kulttuurihistorian seura published the book Herodotoksen ja Thukydien ideaalit ja historiankirjoitus that is based on his above mentioned thesis. Alongside with the researcher’s career, Isotalo also works as entrepreneur in the higher education sector.

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The Amos Anderson fellowship was founded by Föreningen Konstsamfundet in collaboration with foundation Institutum Romanum Finlandiae. The scholarship is named after Amos Anderson, the founder of Föreningen Konstsamfundet, whose support was also crucial for the founding of the Finnish Institute in Rome and the acquisition of Villa Lante.

Photo: Kerttu Penttilä