Looking at Russia from nearby: images of Russia among Russian-speaking migrants in Finland
Olga Davydova-Minguet (University of Eastern Finland)
Paper short abstract:
While living in Finland, Russian immigrants maintain transnational cultural, social and economic ties with their native land. Proximity to Russia on the one hand, and a view from a distance, albeit short, but influenced by “the Finnish point of view” produce multilayered perceptions of Russia.
Paper long abstract:
This presentation deals with images of Russia among Russian-speaking immigrants living in the Finnish border area. My case study is based on the interview data collected in the rural border area (municipality of Tohmajärvi in the province of North Karelia in Finland) in 2016. This area was chosen because of several factors. Municipality of Tohmajärvi is the third most Russian municipality in Finland (approximately 4% of its inhabitants are Russian-speaking). The fourth most vivid check-point between Finland and Russia, Niirala-Värtsilä, brings about vitality and exceptional multiethnic atmosphere of this area. Russia has become familiar to local dwellers because of immigration (mostly of Russian women from the border areas of Russia, whose main migration channel is marriage with Finnish men), and habitual border crossings for shopping, buying gasoline, and recreation. At the same time, historically Russianness is seen and represented in Finland predominantly in the discourse of Otherness. Russian-speaking immigrants maintain their transnational cultural, social and economic ties with their native land and produce perceptions of Russia, where images of their childhood and youth, experiences of Post-Soviet change intertwine with their practical everyday experiences of Russia and images produced by Russian TV. The image of Russia based on everyday experience may greatly contradict the images constructed in collective memories or histories. Proximity to Russia on the one hand, and a view from a distance, albeit short, but influenced by "the Finnish point of view" produce multilayered perceptions of Russia.
Images of home away from home (Migration and Mobility Working Group)