"Today it might be all in fashion" - home-made things and identity shift in immigrant stories of Russian-speaking young adults in Finland
Marina Hakkarainen (University of Eastern Finland)
Paper short abstract:
This presentation will analyse immigrant stories of Russian-speaking young adults to show how ethics and aesthetics of home-made things that were necessary for their domestic life represent the shift in their local identities and belonging in Finland.
Paper long abstract:
This presentation will show how ethics and aesthetics of immigrant practices of making home-made things represent the shift in their new local identities and belonging. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Russian families with children immigrated to Finland. Today these children are adults, and their recollections about the arrival to the new place are always full of details describing the material world they faced - new landscapes, infrastructures and items. Especially, mass consumption things are strikingly important in their narratives; they represent the material splendidness of the new country. Hand-made things produced at home have an opposite meaning. Practices of making things themselves of improvised means (that was usual in the USSR) are remembered as shameful signs of economic scarcity experienced by the families in the new society of mass consumption. Immigrants could not be similar to local people in purchasing things. That is why parents should make some domestic items themselves. However, observing their childhood pasts from their present positions, the young people can re-evaluate the practices of making things at home and the items themselves. In their narratives, the practices of making things are morally approved, and home-made things become aestheticised. The reconsidering is also accompanied by new ideological premises, for example, ecologically oriented. Thus, the old values have been replaced by the new ones. These new values also mark the gap between generations of parents and children in Russian-speaking immigrant families in Finland.
Piecing life together in impermanent landscapes