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Accepted Paper:

Uncertainties in dealing with Bureaucracies of Death in Transnational (Post)-Mortal Practices of Russian-Speaking Immigrants in Finland  
Olga Davydova-Minguet (University of Eastern Finland) Pirjo Pöllänen (Karelian Institute, University of Eastern Finland)

Paper short abstract:

In our analysis of Russian migrants’ narrated experiences of the bureaucratic formalization of death in a transnational Finnish-Russian context we aim to better understand transnational death in its relation to societal structures of bordering Finnish and Russian states.

Paper long abstract:

In Finland, Russian-speaking immigrants constitute the largest foreign-born minority. Their everyday lives are characterized by dense transnational ties which are still (despite of recent Covid- and on-going war-related travel restrictions) easy to maintain due to the proximity of their places of origin with their places of dwelling, the existence of transnational families, and mediatized connections (Davydova-Minguet and Pöllänen, 2020 and 2021; Davydova-Minguet et al., 2019). Due to the recent character of immigration to Finland, deaths of Russian-speaking immigrants have been relatively rare, but they are becoming more common as those who immigrated in the first waves of the post-Soviet immigration are now getting old. These deaths need to be formalized transnationally because they occur in a way in continuation of the transnational lives of migrants.

Through the death of a relative in the country of immigration, Russian speakers deal with the Finnish authorities and actors with whom they may not have had any relationship before. At the same time, death sheds light on the many relationships of Russian-speakers that connect them to the authorities of the Russian state across the border, namely, the social benefits they enjoy, the real estate they own, and their relationship with financial institutions. Acting according to the Finnish rules and managing bureaucratic transnational relationships takes a lot of time, creates misunderstandings and mistakes, and the formalization of death becomes a laborious transnational process of a “long farewell”.

The presentation is based on our on-going project on practices and meanings of death in transnational Finnish-Russian context.

Panel Narr02
Uncertain death: narrative and physical death and the spaces in between
  Session 2 Saturday 10 June, 2023, -