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The Karelia of Memories - Utopias of a Place

Keywords: evacuees , experiences , Karelia , Karelianism , memories , oral history , places , places of memories , utopias

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Abstract:

Karelia has always been a place of utopias and dreams in Finland. The images that we have of this area tend to originate in national projects and Karelianism. Karelia has been divided between two states – Finland and Soviet Union – since Finland gained independence in 1917. The Isthmus belonged to Finland until 1939. After World War II a total of 430,000 evacuees, 407,000 of who were Karelians, were resettled in different parts of Finland.The article concentrates on the memories of Karelian evacuees. The aim of the article is to find, construct and analyse the different ways in which the past is remembered, the experiences of different generations of Karelia, and the phenomenon of “new Karelianism”. Karelia is not just an abstraction but a place of memories and utopias for Karelian evacuees. Their utopias are different than those of supporters of Karelianism because of their misery and dreams about going back there. Karelia is also a meaningful place for different generations. It is a place which Karelian refugees and their children and children’s children as well as researchers and cohabitants in the new hometowns of the evacuees visit again and again.

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