Marja Tiilikainen

Senior Research Fellow, Temporary Research Director +358 40 684 3814

PhD, Associate professor

  • Cross-border immigrant families and family practices
  • Illness and healing as cultural phenomena
  • Religious everyday life
  • Family separation and everyday security
  • Somali diaspora
  • Research Integrity Adviser at the Migration Institute of Finland



I am interested in issues relating to the everyday life of immigrant families, the separation of families and the cross-border way of life. As regards everyday life, I am particularly interested in the complex dimensions of religion, illness and healing, well-being and security. My investigation has often focused on diasporic Somali communities and Muslim minorities. In addition to the ethnographic research approach, I am interested in participatory and artistic methods. I have worked on the field not only in Finland but also in Canada and Somalia.

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy (religious studies), University of Helsinki 2003; Docent of religious studies, University of Helsinki 2011


Mobile Futures, WP4: Trust in the Labour Market, Academy of Finland (2022–2025).

Family Separation, Migration Status and Everyday Security: Experiences and Strategies of Vulnerable Migrants (2018–2021) (Academy of Finland 2018‒2021)

Young Muslims and Resilience – A Participatory Study (Kone Foundation 2016‒2020)

Transnational Muslim Marriages: Wellbeing, Law, and Gender (Academy of Finland 2013‒2018, finished)

Islam and Security Revisited: Transnational Somali Families in Finland, Canada and Somalia (Academy of Finland 2012‒2017, finished)

Essential publications

Finell, E., M. Tiilikainen, I. Jasinskaja-Lahti, N. Hasan & F. Muthana 2021. Lived experience related to the covid-19 pandemic among Arabic-, Russian- and Somali-speaking migrants in Finland. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(5), 1-19.

Tiilikainen, Marja & Tarja Mankkinen 2020. Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Extremism in Finland: The Role of Religious Literacy. Tuula Sakaranaho, Timo Aarrevaara & Johanna Konttori (eds.), The Challenges of Religious Literacy: The Case of Finland. SpringerBriefs in Religious Studies. Springer, Cham, 67-78.

Tiilikainen, Marja 2020. Finnish Somali Fathers, Respectability, and Transnational Family Life. In: Johanna Hiitola, Kati Turtiainen, Sabine Gruber and Marja Tiilikainen (eds.), Family Life in Transition: Borders, Transnational Mobility and Welfare Society in Nordic Countries, 131-141. Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge.

Onodera, Henri, Marja Tiilikainen & Helena Oikarinen-Jabai (toim.) 2019. ”Me ollaan tavallisia ihmisiä, mitä eroa onko muslimi vai ei!” – näkökulmia muuttuvaan nuoruuteen Suomessa. Teemanumero, Nuorisotutkimus 2/2019.

Tiilikainen, Marja 2019. Raising children of Somali descent in Toronto. Challenges and struggles for everyday security and wellbeing. In: Marja Tiilikainen, Mulki Al-Sharmani and Sanna Mustasaari (eds.), Wellbeing of Transnational Muslim Families: Marriage, Law and Gender, 147-163. Abingdon, Oxfordshire: Routledge.

Al-Sharmani, Mulki, Marja Tiilikainen and Sanna Mustasaari eds. 2017. Special Issue of Migration Letters on the theme of ”Transnational Migrant Family Life: Navigating Family Practices, Generations, and Spheres.” Migration Letters 14(1).

Mölsä, Mulki, Saija Kuittinen, Marja Tiilikainen, Marja-Liisa Honkasalo and Raija-Leena Punamaki 2017. Mental health among older refugees: the role of trauma, discrimination, and religiousness. Aging & Mental Health 21(8): 829-837.

Tiilikainen, Marja 2017. “Whenever the Mom Hands Over the Phone, Then We Talk”: Transnational Ties to the Country of Descent among Canadian Somali Youth. Migration Letters 14(1): 63-74.

Fingerroos, Outi, Anna-Maria Tapaninen and Marja Tiilikainen, eds. 2016. Perheenyhdistäminen. Kuka saa perheen Suomeen, kuka ei ja miksi? [Family Reunification: Who gets a family to Finland, who does not and why?] Tampere: Vastapaino.

Tiilikainen, Marja 2016. Somalialaisten nuorten ylirajainen liikkuminen [Transnational mobility among youth of Somali descent]. In: Antti Kivijärvi and Marja Peltola (eds.) Nuorten elinolot –vuosikirja [Yearbook on young people’s living conditions], 119-131. Helsinki: Nuorisoasiain neuvottelukunta, Nuorisotutkimusverkosto and THL.

Tiilikainen, Marja 2003. Arjen islam: Somalinaisten elämää Suomessa [Everyday Islam: The life of Somali women in Finland]. Tampere: Vastapaino.