If the Borders Could Tell: The Hybrid Identity of the Border in the Karelian Borderland


  • Saija Kaskinen University of Eastern Finland, Finland




Border, identity, hybrid, reflective knowledge, private knowledge


This paper analyses the nature of the border. The paper poses the question of whether a border, in this case the national border between Finland and Russia in the Finnish Karelian border region, can have its own distinctive identity[ies], and if so, could the border itself be or become a hybrid – a border subject. To examine the hybridization process of the border, this paper draws on individual experiences of the border that are illustrated using interview material. In addition, by analysing historical documents, literature and historiography, the paper shows how the border has affected people’s relationship with the border itself and also their perception of regional landscapes, regional memories and identity. On the other hand, this process can be reversed by exploring how people have changed and embodied the border. The paper utilises the framework of John Perry’s theory of “reflective knowledge”, where both conscious experience and the knowledge it yields differ from physical knowledge that is explicitly characterized in terms of empirical facts. Exploring these relationships enhances our understanding of the role of “private knowledge” and its contribution to the understanding of borders.


Research materials

Research materials include personal comments from and interviews of the following anonymized informants:

Aili, 2013, pers.comm., 20 August

Eeva, 2013, pers. Comm., 6 August

Enni, 2013, pers.comm., 6 August

Frank, 2013, pers.comm., May 27

Heikki, 2013, pers.comm., 23 August

Kaisa, 2013, pers.comm., 26 August

Liisa, 2013, pers.comm., May 25

Pekka, 2013, pers.comm., 20 August

Pirkko, 2013, pers.comm., 6 August

Tauno, 2013, pers.comm., 22 August and 2014, 13 October.

The material is in author’s possession.


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Part 3: Hybrid identities and borders