3. Deportations and deportability in Finland

Convenors: Päivi Pirkkalainen, University of Jyväskylä; Saara Pellander and Eveliina Lyytinen, Migration Institute of Finland

Contact: paivi.m.pirkkalainen (at) jyu.fi

Session 3.1: Thursday 2.12.2021 at 17.00-18.30

Session 3.2: Friday 3.12.2021 at 12.30-14.30

In Finland, there is wide range of ongoing research around the field of deportations and deportability, which are being studied by a growing number of scholars from different disciplines and perspectives. On the one hand, deportations are being studied from a historical perspective, showing that deportations are not a novel phenomenon related to the refugee reception crisis of 2015 and subsequent restrictions on immigration policies. On the other hand, deportations have become more widely represented in the media in recent years, and many ongoing studies are being conducted on media representations, anti-deportation activism and experiences of deportees. There is also an increasing number of art-based work visualising experiences of deportations and deportees.

This workshop aims to bring together scholars from a variety of disciplines and artists who work on questions related to deportations and deportability in Finland. We welcome academic presentations that analyse the historical, legal, political, social, psychological or societal aspects related to deportations and post-deportation situations. We also welcome art-based presentations, for example photograph exhibitions, films, poems etc. around the topic of deportation. The presentations could for example explore the ways in which deportations influence everyday lives of deportable people and the communities they belong to, different forms of activism and solidarity movements related to deportations, or legal frameworks, policies and practices and media representations on deportations. Presentations for this workshop can be empirical and/or develop theoretical notions around the topic of deportations/deportability, and/or provide historical analyses on the topic and/or they can be art-based. The aim of the workshop is to strengthen a network of deportation scholars by inviting also artists to strive for new collaborations in framing the debates on deportations in Finland.

Back to the workshops

Presentation order and abstracts:

SESSION 3.1 Thursday 2.12.2021 at 17.00-18.30

  1. Soviet Deportations, Internal Exile and Stigma that Followed: Oral Histories of Deported and Silenced Ingrian Finns
    Anni Reuter, University of Helsinki

This paper focuses on what happened after the forced migration from the viewpoint of the Finnish minority in Russia. I discuss the experiences of ethnic deportations, stigma, and enforced silence of being Finnish in the Soviet during Stalin’s time and after his death (1953). I will analyze 30 oral histories of deported Ingrian Finn. From the year 1935 onwards, mass deportations of Finns from historical Ingria located around St. Peterburg (Leningrad) and the border areas in the Soviet Union became ethnically rather than socially motivated.

The majority of Ingrian Finns lived decades in internal exile under strict surveillance and regular pass control even later of NKVD (later KGB), which organized the Gulag administration and political terror. Over 50 years survivors experienced various problems if they talked about their experiences in public or revealed that they were Finnish/deportees. Oral histories of living in the Gulag as a Finnish deportee were shared only among the most trusted persons. Ingrian Finnish culture was a hidden memory culture until perestroika and 1990s.

Ingrian Finnish deportation narratives were often counter-narratives, including tragic histories, but even jokes and oral poetry, against the Soviet power. Sharing painful and often traumatic narratives with the researcher and other Finns deported gave hope for recognition of their history and healing from the traumatic past.

  1. Legal geographies of the Finnish deportation machinery
    Eveliina Lyytinen, Migration Institute of Finland

In this article, I propose the application of legal geographies framework to better understand the official deportation policies and practices, and the counter-actions in Finland. I analyse how the Finnish ‘deportation machinery’ that entails the laws, policies and official practices of deportation, functions, and how it is challenged in regard to space and time. In other words, I examine how people, laws and spaces of deportability are intertwined in the temporal construction of the deportation machinery. My interest is on questions of where, when, by whom and how law is implemented, challenged and resisted during deportations.

My aim in this article is to introduce the application of legal geographies approach for the better understanding of the spatio-temporal-legal dynamics involved in the deportations and the related negotiations. I propose that the most useful legal geographical concept for the analysis of deportations is that of nomosphere developed by David Delaney. He suggests that displacements, including forced migration, deportations and detention, could be understood as nomospheres. According to Delaney (2015a: 99) “distinctive legal practices are… involved in ‘making up’ the kinds of persons and non-persons (citizens…, refugees…) who live in our world, and these makings manifest themselves in nomospheres. The concept of nomosphere (like splice and lawscape) can be seen as “instances or moments where legally informed decisions and actions take place…” (Bennett & Layard 2015: 410).

I demonstrate in this article how examining both the discursive and embodied practices and relationships between and amongst nomospheric figures, guardians and technicians are essential to unravel the ever-changing, fluid spatio-temporal-legal dynamics of forced removals. I argue that the nomospheric figures, guardians and technicians all put law in practice and demonstrate how this practicing of law always takes place not only in space but also in time. Furthermore, implementation of law is never straightforward, and my interest in this article is to shed light on how deportation orders are implemented in practise and how they can be challenged with various discursive and practical techniques by others, such as the figures and the technicians of nomosphere. All these various actors shape the actual practice of the law and what is of interest in here are the attempts to implement, resist or transform the law.

  1. Q & A with a detention activist
    Riikka Theresa Innanen, freelance artist, activist

Based on personal experiences and her text contribution in the book “Vad vi sag” (What did we see by We See You 2019), Riikka Theresa Innanen will share her experiences during 2017-2019 while working as a detention cases activist, stand-in legal aid and support person during that time. During the years 2017-2019, there was a peak in the numbers of deportations particularly to Iraq and Afganistan, but also to other countries. She has been involved in different kinds of cases, for example with sexual minorities, women and families. What all the cases have in common is a need for solidarity and support in order to make sure basic human rights and personal agency could be ensured. In her presentation, she will describe her experiences in working under highly stressful conditions in the detention centres, that can be seen as "slow violence" to all people involved. She will ask what kind of coping mechanisms and strategies for resistance, solutions and ethical questions have risen from this. The struggles could vary from such mundane needs as ensuring doctors appointments or access to appropriate baby food or women’s sanitary towels to the fundamental rights to get married, freedom to know the length of the limitation of freedom, ensuring people their legal rights to reapply for asylum or even stopping the deportation “mid-flight” of those still having the rights to reside in the country.

SESSION 3.2 Friday 3.12.2021 at 12.30-14.30

  1. Resisting deportation live –Affective responses to Aino Pennanen’s live stream of civil disobedience
    Noora Kotilainen, University of Helsinki/University of Jyväskylä

On a Finnair flight to Berlin July 31th 2018, a Finnish lawyer Aino Pennanen saw a man escorted by the police and cuffed to his seat. She realized a deportation was taking place, pleaded the pilot not to fly, refused to sit down and decided to live stream the events to FaceBook Live. The deportation protest became a top news story in Finland, arousing strong emotional reactions pro and contra both the practise of deportation as well as the act of livestreaming the act of civil disobedience.

Recently, in addition to broadcaster media’s live television footage, the practise of making sudden event violent events such as terror attacks visible and mobilizing publics by using social media based live stream technology, has thrived. (Van Es, 2016) In the aftermath of the 2015-2016 so called European refugee crisis, protesting enfolding deportation situations by live streaming at the spot of the events, became new form of mediated resistance to deportations. (Khattab, 2020) Hybrid media enabled novel forms of mediatized deportation protests and the ways in which protests are reacted to, vividly demonstrate how deportations not only affect the deportees, but forcefully shape the society that deports, arousing manifold affective reactions from mobilization of solidarity and will to help to hateful and aggressive condemnation of the protests.

In this paper I look at how the affectiveness of live streaming an enfolding deportation protest shaped the reception and reactions of national audiences. I look at the affective visual features of Pennanen’s live stream video and analyse the emotional reactions and societal discussion the mediatized protest generated in the Finnish media.

  1. Affective practices in Protestant activism against deportations: Christian converts and the controversy over faith in Finland
    Päivi Pirkkalainen and Karina Horsti, University of Jyväskylä

The next proposed contribution examines the reactions of Protestant congregations in Finland and how they have responded to state authorities’ negative decisions on conversion-based asylum appeals. Finland tightened its criteria for international protection after 2015, the year of the ‘refugee reception crisis’, and this resulted in an increase in the percentage of asylum applications rejected and the number of deportation orders issued. Conversion from Islam to Christianity as grounds for asylum became a matter of heated public debate and was framed as a migration strategy. Analysis of documents, public appeals, Christian media materials, and interviews with key actors in the asylum and appeal processes of converts to Christianity shows the ways in which immigration authorities’ and courts’ suspicion that the faith may not be ‘real’ affects not only asylum-seekers but also Finnish Christian communities. It exerts this influence at a fundamental level whereby the individuals’ and the community’s trust in the state gets called into question along with the genuineness of their right to freedom of religion. Emotions of fear and frustration, even anger, are shared within the religious communities and more publicly in the ecumenical religious domain. Affective practices of performing and articulating emotions in the public arena become a means of resisting both deportations and the perceived violation of the right to define one’s faith. This type of resistance can, however, end up transformed into exclusionary practices exacerbating divisions between ‘us’ (Christians) and ‘them’ (Muslims).