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March 20, 2002


DALLAS (SMU) -- The University of Helsinki has awarded Pekka Hämäläinen, a post-doctoral fellow at the SMU William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies, its annual award for best dissertation.

Hämäläinen's 2001 dissertation, The Comanche Empire: A Study of Indigenous Power, 1700-1875, was chosen from more than 360 dissertations for the prestigious award, which also included a $4,000 cash prize. The University of Helsinki is the flagship university of Finland and enrolls about 30,000 students.

Hämäläinen, who received his Ph.D. in history, is spending a year in residence at the Clements Center where he is turning his dissertation into a book. He also teaches in the William P. Clements Jr. Department of History.

The Comanche Empire: A Study of Indigenous Power, 1700-1875, argues that Comanches built and maintained an expanding empire on the Southern Plains, in the Southwest and in northern Mexico by manipulating and exploiting the Spanish and Mexican colonies.

Hämäläinen has accepted a position with Texas A&M University as an assistant professor of history. He will begin teaching there in the fall.

The center, part of SMU's Dedman College and Clements History Department, promotes research, publishing, teaching and public programming in a variety of fields related to the American Southwest.