Refugee Journeys: Narratives of Forced Mobilities

Project description

This project examines journeys memories in narratives of forcibly displaced persons who fled from Soviet-occupied areas in Karelia to the rest of Finland during World War II, and of international refugees and asylum seekers who have fled to Finland after the 1990s. The project’s approach is interdisciplinary; it engages in conversation with history, forced migration research, mobilities studies, and memory studies.

I conceptualize the journey as a biographical rupture for those who experience it, one which is constituted by its spatiality and temporality as well as by its emotional, embodied, social, and material dimensions. I view evacuees and refugees as mnemonic agents, for whom remembering the journey is part of the process in which they make sense of their past from the perspective of today, and in negotiation with the future. The five themes examined are 1) evacuees' and refugees’ memories and conceptualizations of the journey; 2) the journey’s temporal aspects; 3) the journey’s spatial aspects; 4) power relations embedded in social relations formed before or during the journey; and 5) embodied, emotional, and material dimensions of the journey. These themes will be analyzed with an intersectional lens on how gender, age, ethnicity, class, religion, sexuality, and migration status intersect to produce differing journey experiences. 

The data comprises archival materials and narrative interviews.

Project coordinator

University of Oulu


Johanna Leinonen

Academy Research Fellow