Non-Russian Language Space and Border in Russian Karelian Literature


  • Tuulikki Kurki Karelian Institute, University of Eastern Finland, Finland



Finnish language literature, Soviet Karelia, Russian Karelia, border, space


This article examines Finnish language literature in Russian Karelia on the Russian–Finnish national borderland from the 1940s until the 1970s. It focuses on the concepts of the non-Russian language space and border that are constructed and studied in the context of three novels: Iira (1947), Tiny White Bird (1961), and We Karelians (1971). The article claims that the non-Russian language space and the national border started to be understood differently from the official degrees dictated by Moscow, as found in literature already from the late 1950s and early 1960s. From the 1950s onwards, the historical, linguistic, and cultural roots across the national border and the Finnish population were allowed to be recognized in literature. Furthermore, this article claims that in the 1970s, literature was able to represent such regional history, and also the closeness and permeability of the national border that influenced the lives of the Soviet Karelian non-Russian speaking population and their identity formation. This led to different ideas of the national border, in which the border and its functions and meanings became gradually more multi-voiced, ambivalent and controversial, in comparison to the conceptualization of the border as presenting a strict, impermeable boundary.


Archive material

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Letter Antti Timonen to Antti Seppä, 15/1/1960, Fond 1075, opis 1, delo 1/28.

Letter Antti Timonen to Antti Seppä, 28/10/1960, Fond 1075, opis 1, delo 1/28.


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How to Cite

Kurki, T. (2014) “Non-Russian Language Space and Border in Russian Karelian Literature”, Culture Unbound, 6(6), pp. 1095–1121. doi: 10.3384/cu.2000.1525.1461095.



Part 1: Writing territory and space at borderlands