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Alongside mobilities within the former Soviet space, post-Soviet migrations involve movements directed to the West. Our ongoing study focuses on the post-mortal practices of Russian-speaking immigrants in Finland, where they constitute the largest foreign-born immigrant minority. Their everyday lives are characterized by dense transnational ties and connections which are relatively 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; Oivo, 2021). 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. As Metcalf and Huntington (1991: 25) note, “the issue of death throws into relief the most important cultural values by which people live their lives and evaluate their experiences. Life becomes transparent against the background of death, and fundamental social and cultural issues are revealed”. Compared to other European countries with a longer histories of immigration, immigrants’ death related issues are understudied in Finland. In this article through the analysis of migrants’ experiences of the bureaucratic formalization of death in a transnational Finnish-Russian context we, in addition to describing them, make an attempt to better understand the character of this particular transnational condition in its relation to societal structures…


‪The article analyses the confusions around dealing with death-related bureaucracies that Russian-speaking immigrants living in Finland’s border areas have to carry out. ‪‪Death of their loved ones puts migrants in contact with officials of different levels in their Finnish localities of dwelling and Russian localities of origin. ‪‪The fulfilment of all bureaucratic requirements feels unfamiliar and laborious and turns to a “long farewell” in the experiences of immigrants. The study makes use of different ethnographic materials by the authors and presents them in a form of “typical story” that is compiled from diverse, but yet alike experiences of Russian-speaking immigrants. ‪‪Main confusions derive from the digitalization of bureaucratic services in Finland and the need to present paper certificates in Russia, as well as the dominant role of Lutheran church in Finnish burial administration. ‪‪These encounters and experiences add to our understanding of Russian-speaking migrants’ transnationalism, which seems to be highly dependent on both Finnish and Russian welfare services and authorities, as well on the deteriorating conflict between Russia and “the West”.‪

  • border
  • Russia
  • transnational death
  • Russian speakers
  • Finland
  • bureaucratic practices
  • Lutheran church
Olga Davydova-Minguet
PhD, professor of Russian and Border Studies, University of Eastern Finland, Karelian institute, Joensuu Campus P.B. 111, 80101 Joensuu, Finland;;
Pirjo Pöllänen
PhD, researcher in Social Policy, University of Eastern Finland, Karelian Institute, B.O. Box 111, 80110 Joensuu, Finland;;
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
This is the latest publication of the author on cairn.
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