The Construction and Contesting of Vernacular Authority within an Alternative World View
Kirsi Hänninen [+]
University of Turku
This article builds upon my notion that there are several vernacular voices within the UFO subculture. These voices are located on a scale of expertise that ranges from a curious bystander to a professional expert. I claim that inside this continuum three separate vernacular groups can be distinguished: First, there are amateurs, who share a strong interest in UFO subculture; who are aware of the key UFO narratives and who may or may not have their own experiences. Second, there are lay experts, who are invested in the subculture; who participate in discussions inside it and who have gained a recognized expertise either by studying the phenomenon or having personal UFO experiences. Finally, there are professional experts who have built up their expertise into a profession and who willingly share their knowledge and experiences both within the subculture and outside it. In Finland, a well-known example of professional experts is Rauni-Leena Luukanen-Kilde, a best-selling author and lecturer on ufology, parapsychology and conspiracy theories. What makes her case even more interesting and important for my study is the fact that she comes from the institutional sphere: She has a degree in medicine and she has worked as a medical doctor in Lapland, also as a chief medical officer. She retired, after a car accident, in 1985 and moved to Norway in 1992 where she currently lives. She appeared frequently in Finnish media in 1980’s and 1990’s as an UFO expert but withdrew from publicity in late 1990’s. In 2012 she made a comeback and since that she has been giving public lectures and interviews. She argues that small elite is running the world and aiming to destroy most of the humanity by the means of natural catastrophes and microchips that make one act like a robot. The elite is also covering up contemporary space travels and presenting originally benevolent extraterrestrials malevolent. In this article, I will ask how Luukanen-Kilde’s authority is constructed and contested within the Finnish UFO subculture.