Imagining Finland: negotiating the sense of self through return imaginaries
When embarking on a migration journey, migrants cultivate personal ideas of themselves ‘here’ and ‘there’. This includes one’s reflections about a possible return – the return imaginaries. They emerge from the time-, place- and person-specific ideas, attitudes, feelings and possibilities before, and after, relocation. Through a digital ethnographic study, this paper seeks to expand the research done on how the so-called ‘middling’ migrants negotiate the sense of self through return imaginaries. I discuss one such group, Finns, in the UK and ask ‘what is the role of return imaginaries in negotiating the sense of self in Finns’ translocal place-making in the UK?’. The results show that Finns’ return imaginaries function as a framework for positioning and reaffirming the self in relation to the UK and Finland during one’s migration trajectory. In relation to their idea of return, Finns negotiate the questions ‘who am I?’ and ‘who do I want to be?’. Through reflecting on the everydayness in the UK and Finland, and their ideas about return visits, Finns produce a ‘translocal sense of self’.
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