A3 Book chapter

‘Adjusting frequencies’ – Negotiating belonging among Kurdish youth in Finland

Subtitle: Negotiating belonging among Kurdish youth in Finland

List of Authors: Mari Toivanen

Publisher: Cambridge Scholars’ Publishing, edited Martina Topic & Srdjan Sremac

Place: Newcastle

Publication year: 2014

Book title *: Europe as a multiple modernity: Multiplicity of religious identities and belongings

Number of pages: 20

ISBN: 978-1-4438-5633-1


After 9/11, the public discourses in continental Europe have tended to problematize the position of youth with Middle-Eastern and North-African origins in regards to their contested sense of belonging. It seems that gradually similar discourses have landed in Finnish debates, echoing such overarching themes as national belonging, “Finnishness” and understandings of “Otherness”. Young people with migrant background are becoming more visible in the Finnish society as they are reaching adulthood in the 2010s (Statistics Finland, 2010). It seems, therefore, justified to explore the role of religious and ethnic identifications in constructing a sense of belonging among migrant originated, but a “home-grown” generation (a.k.a. generation-in-between).

This study concentrates on young adults of Kurdish origins, who have migrated to Finland with their parents in the 1990s and grown up in Finland. It looks at how they negotiate belongings in regards to their surroundings. More particularly, this study analyses their religious and ethnic identifications, and positionings in regards to discourses on “Finnishness” and the “Other” as its counterpart (see Lepola, 2000). How do they position themselves in regards to constructions of the perceived “Other”? The theoretical framework of social locations (gender, religion, ethnicity, generation) and their intersecting attributes (positionality) (Anthias, 2002, 2009) are employed in the analysis to disentangle to what and with what strategies Kurdish youth construct feelings of belonging.

The results indicate that young Kurdish adults use pick-and choose strategies to construct a sense of belonging, strategically “adjusting frequencies” appearing more “Finnish” or “Kurdish” according to context. Also alternative identifications (Muslim, foreigner, local, new Finn) have resulted from contestations over given identity categories and from a sensed lack of legitimacy to identify with them for appearing physically “Other”. Citizenship status provided a venue to identify oneself with the civic instead of cultural European identity.

Last updated on 2021-24-06 at 08:43