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Elli Köngäs-Maranda

Internationally renowned feminist folklorist Elli Kaija Köngäs Maranda was born in Finland in 1932. She studied Finnish folklore at the University of Helsinki, and did her doctoral dissertation at Indiana University (1963) on Finnish-American folklore. She held various research positions, and taught at the University of British Columbia (1970-1976) and at Laval University from 1976 until her premature death in 1982. She was elected a Fellow of the American Folklore Society in 1978. Academically, she was known for her structural analysis of traditional culture, demonstrating precision and mathematical intellect, but also for her eloquent writing. She published extensively and in English, French, Finnish, German, and Russian. Her feminism was particularly evident in her research and writing on the Lau people, based on fieldwork conducted between 1966 and 1976. To her friends, colleagues, students, and acquaintances she was known for her personal warmth, lack of snobbery, and love of Finnish poetry.

Barbro Klein's obituary gives the most personal feminist view of Elli (see Folklore Women's Communication, fall-winter 1983 (30-31):4-7). For an example of Elli's work, see "The Roots of the Two Ethnologies, and Ethnilogy." Folklore Forum 15#1 (1982):51-58, at See also Felix J. Oinas, "Elli Kaija Köngäs Maranda: In Memoriam." Folklore Forum 15#2 (1982):115-123, at A full bibliography of her work in French and English (as well as several example studies, a longer biography, and an introduction to her contributions to folkloristics) is in Travaux et Inédits de Elli Kaija Köngäs Maranda, Cahiers du CELAT 1, 1983. A later consideration of Elli's intellectual contributions, particularly her unusual uniting of fieldwork and structural analysis, can be found in Leila K. Virtanen, "Folklorist Elli Kaija Köngäs Maranda : A Passionate Rationalist in the Field." The Folklore Historian 17 (2000):34-41.

In 1983, the American Folklore Society Women's section inaugurated two prizes in her memory, one for student work, and one for professional work, funded by highly successful auctions, T-shirt sales, the making and raffling of a quilt, and, most recently, the sale of note cards commemorating that quilt.

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