Sirpa Aalto’s abstract

A Dark World? – The Role of Saga Literature in Finnish Pseudo-Histories in the Internet

The Finnish history before the Middle Ages has been the favourite topic of pseudo-historians already before age of the Internet. The pseudo-histories in printed books had a limited audience, but the Internet offers new possibilities to spread not only facts and information but also disinformation and “alternative truths” about past. There are practically no written sources from Finnish history concerning the pre-medieval period of Finland, which has given the opportunity to pseudo-historians to fabricate all kinds of imagined pasts. Some pseudo-histories claim that the Finns had had kings before the Swedish conquest and colonization of Finland, and they base their claims on vague references to the medieval Norse-Icelandic saga literature.  A people or group called “Finnar” is mentioned in some sagas, and pseudo-historians assume that they always refer to Finns.

In my presentation I intend to discuss why saga literature in particular has been taken as a starting point in some pseudo-histories regarding the Finnish pre-medieval period. I am interested in to know how the saga literature is used in pseudo-histories concerning the Finns. Is the information from the sagas misunderstood or distorted? In the end, the question is what is our role as researchers when we encounter pseudo-histories with disinformation – how are we supposed to act?