Mobility and belonging in return migration experiences : Narratives of Ingrian Finns' returnees from Russia
Kanazawa, Erina (2021)
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This thesis examines how Ingrian Finns experience return migration and what the implications of returning home mean for them. In 1990, the Finnish then-president Mauno Koivisto announced that Finnish descendants of the former Soviet Union citizens had the right to return to Finland. Approximately, 30,000 people migrated from the former Soviet Union to Finland as Ingrian Finns' returnees during the return migration program from 1990 to 2011. The existing research on Ingrian Finn's return migration exclusively focuses on the discursive analysis of identity construction in terms of how Ingrian Finns' Finnish background can be identified through the notion of Finnishness at the institutional level. Based on a mixed-method qualitative approach, I use semi-structured interviews with a biographical narrative method and text materials from an exhibition, Ingrians - The forgotten Finns held at the National Museum of Finland. My purpose in this thesis is to provide an alternative story to dominant narratives that situate Ingrian Finns in the context of Finnish cultural and historical homogeneity. Considering mobility as politics of movement, representations, and practices, I illustrate the experiences and implications of Ingrian Finn's return migration. The 1990 Koivisto's statement is not necessarily motivated them to stay in Finland but their temporal conditions and desires shape the return decisions and processes. Notably, Ingrian Finn's mobility manifests a form of bordering practices, which not only represent an ideological border between West and East but also the interconnectedness of social relations concerning nationality, language, class, race, gender, and sexuality. By incorporating the notion of fragmentation into belonging, I present the way Ingrian Finns live with the cross-border relations of language, memories, and home. The concept of fragmentation opens up possibilities for analyzing Ingrian Finns beyond the national borders and offers an insight into various modes of belonging. In the dominant narratives, Ingrian Finn's belonging is associated with the feelings of rootlessness and pains, however, my informants convey a sense of belonging through resistance and closeness to the notion of Finnishness and Ingrianness, and in-between-ness.