Neighborness, co-habitation and co-operation “through time”

Russia and Finland, among other things, are united (divided) by a territorial issue. Due to historical circumstances, some of the border territories on the Russian side are “homeland” both for Finnish citizens (ethnic Finns or Karelians), who once lived on these territories, and Russians, currently residing there. This subproject looks into the relationships between the present and former residents of these territories or their descendants. Former inhabitants of border areas maintain ties with their home territory – notably, they organize former residents’ communities, take trips to their home grounds, communicate with present-day locals and generally take part in the life of the border area. In this case, we encounter a peculiar mode of co-habitation, co-existence of “former” and “current” residents. This relationship is formed through the involvement in the place and participation in its development, and it adds something new, individual, specific to the life of both sides. What are the formats of cooperation and co-existence of “the former” and “the present”? How is this partnership beneficial for either side? How does it influence individual and collective identities and biographies? These are the questions that we intend to consider in our study.

This subproject is territorially anchored in Pervomaiskoe, Vyborgsky District of Leningrad Oblast’ (former Kivennapa parish) and Sortava and Sortavala District, Karelia. We intend to interview current and former inhabitants (members of associations of fellow countrymen), as well as to conduct participant observation of joint events and happenings. The subproject is inspired by theoretical ambition – we will contemplate the temporal and spatial dimensions of neighbourness and develop the concept of “neighbourness through time.” This concept is especially relevant for border areas, as they change their sovereignty and inhabitants more often than any other spaces.

Working group: Elena Nikiforova (CISR), Elena Bogdanova (CISR), Ekaterina Melnikova (Institute of anthropology and ethnography Kunstkamera, RAS).