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Doctoral defence of Evi-Carita Riikonen, M.A., 16.12.2022: New study explores Finns’ migration experiences in the UK

The doctoral dissertation in the field of Human Geography will be examined at the faculty of Business and Social Sciences at Joensuu.

What is the topic of your doctoral research? Why is it important to study the topic?

This study explores how Finns living in the UK negotiate their everyday lives that are stretched between the UK and Finland and create a translocal sense of place. The United Kingdom has for a long time been a popular destination for Finns moving abroad. Still, research on Finns’ everyday lives in the UK is relatively scarce. It is important to increase the knowledge of Finns' migration experiences and in doing so, contribute to the wider discussion about Nordic migrants' trajectories. In addition, from a theoretical point of view, more discussion is needed about how a translocal sense of place is formed.

What are the key findings or observations of your doctoral research?

Finns in the UK negotiate their relationship with the UK and Finland through return visits, translocal imaginaries, everyday domestic material culture, and disruptions such as changes in one’s personal or societal circumstances. The feelings of individuality and personal agency related to one's migration trajectory are of high importance to Finns in the UK. Their relationship with Finland produces a safety net of perceiving return as a ‘permanent possibility’, freeing them to detach themselves from Finland and build a life elsewhere.

Simultaneously, however, connectedness is important, as this study shows especially when Finns reflect on the everyday domestic items, such as kitchenware and familiar food brands brought from Finland. Finland's role as a support structure was further highlighted when the result of the Brexit referendum disrupted Finns' everyday lives in the UK.

This study widens the understanding of Finnish migrants' experiences and contributes to the discussion about Nordic migrants who are influenced by opportunities within voluntary migration. Furthermore, this study highlights the importance of identifying the underlying migrant condition that influences the way migrants interact with, adapt to, and perceive their meaningful places and make decisions about their migrant trajectories.

How can the results of your doctoral research be utilised in practice?

By identifying the underlying narratives of power – such as positionalities in different societies, level of (dis)connectedness in relation to several places, and the types of changes that migrants of different groups negotiate in relation to several places, it becomes possible to understand how different migrant groups see themselves and their meaningful places. This will, in turn, increase researchers’ ability to interpret behaviours and migrants’ perceived agency that are negotiated simultaneously in the same place by different groups. This will increase societies' ability to increase dialogue between different migrant groups and host societies and enable integration.

What are the key research methods and materials used in your doctoral research?

The research approach is ethnographic. The study was conducted by using digital data collection methods: online survey, online interviews, and online observations. The data is predominantly qualitative, supported by some quantitative data from the survey.

The doctoral dissertation of Evi-Carita Riikonen, M.A., entitled A translocal sense of place? Finns’ translocal place-making in the United Kingdom, will be examined at the faculty of Business and Social Sciences on 16.12.2022 at 12 noon in Auditorium AU100 Aurora building of the Joensuu Campus and online. The Opponent will be Professor Kathy Burrell, University of Liverpool, and the Custos will be Professor Ari Lehtinen, University of Eastern Finland. Language of the dissertation event is English. Public examination will be streamed live.

For further information, please contact:

Evi-Carita Riikonen, evicr(at)