Nina Kokkinen has been appointed as the new research doctor at the Donner Institute for Research in Religion and Culture (DI). The three-year position starts on 1 September 2021.

Nina Kokkinen is enthusiastic about starting her project on art and esotericism as a member of the DI research team.

“I love looking for new information and what could be a better place for this than a library – and in addition a library specialized in literature related to the study of religions.”

Fifteen persons applied for the position as research doctor. The position is new at DI and aimed at researchers who have recently defended their thesis and are competent in one of the research areas that DI focuses on, that is to say the study of religions in a broad sense. Thematic areas that were highlighted in the call were esotericism and mysticism, religion in relation to culture and society and the diversity of religions and worldviews.

The title of Nina Kokkinen’s research project is “The Intersection of Art, Esoteric Spirituality and ‘the Mystic East’ in the Cultural Debates of 20th Century Finland”. Kokkinen will focus on four Finnish artists active during different periods of the 20th century and explore how their connection to esotericism and religion has coloured their art and their life-views. The historical material is analyzed in dialogue with today’s growing interest in spirituality.

The board of the institute chose Nina Kokkinen because of her strong merits and the high scientific quality of her research project, which is in line with key areas of DI’s research profile. Kokkinen has a solid education: apart from a doctoral degree in the study of religion (University of Turku, 2019) she also has a master’s degree in art history. In addition, she has a broad knowledge of visual arts, both through research projects and as a curator of art exhibitions, and as a member of important national and international networks within both academia and the culture sector.

Nina Kokkinen looks forward to both continuing and renewing the research activities at DI.

“The Donner Institute has an interesting history regarding research on art and esotericism. Olof Sundström, the first librarian at the institute, was one of the first experts on Hilma af Klint’s art. Sixten Ringbom, who also worked here as a librarian, was internationally known as one of the pioneers in research on art and esotericism. I think it is fantastic to have the opportunity to continue this research tradition at the institute!

The main task of the research doctor is to pursue her own research project with the goal to deepen and widen her expertise and to establish herself as an independent researcher. In addition, Nina Kokkinen will contribute to events, conferences and seminars arranged by DI and take part in the planning and editing of the publications of the institute.

Cooperation with researchers and teachers both nationally and internationally is also an important part of the job. Therefore, Kokkinen will be an active part of the academic milieu in Turku both in relation to DI and  Åbo Akademi University and a prominent figure in all the institute’s networks and collaborations.