Accepted paper:

Crossing the Finnish-Estonian border


Kirsi Laurén (University of Eastern Finland)

Paper short abstract:

Finland and Estonia have a sea frontier (Gulf of Finland) between them. This study focuses on Finns’ experiences of crossing the Finnish-Estonian border and travelling in Estonia during the period extending from the 1970’s Soviet Estonia till 2000’s independent Estonia.

Paper long abstract:

This study focuses on Finns' experiences of crossing the Finnish-Estonian sea frontier and travelling in Estonia during the period extending from the 1970's Soviet Estonia till 2000's independent Estonia. Historically Finland and Estonia have had a vivid interaction. The WWII changed the interrelationship between the countries and the people's relationship to the border changed as well. Regular shipping across the Gulf of Finland starts in 1965 and after that it was again easier to travel to Estonia.

The study is based on oral history theory and methodology by using written narratives as a research material. Memory and remembering are central concepts of the analysis. In 2010 Finnish Literature Society's Folklore Archive organized a national writing collection in Finland called "Across the Gulf of Finland". The aim was to collect Finns' oral history concerning their travelling experiences to Estonia. As a result the archive got 580 pages from 96 respondents. The narratives concentrate on e.g. border practices in Finnish-Estonian border and travelling experiences during and after the Soviet period. Most of the stories deal with the differences between the countries and the change from the Soviet regime to the time of independent Estonia. My research questions are: Who were able to travel Estonia in Soviet time and how it was to travel there? What kind of memories and perceptions Finns have about the Finnish-Estonian border and Estonia? The focus is on peoples' experiences and on their own interpretations of the past and present.

panel P27
The inequalities of (im)mobility