Finland: Uncovering Nordic Myths of Homogeneity with Miika Tervonen

Listen to a podcast on commonly held assumptions about state, homogeneity and migration in Finland.

Nordic societies are often seen as based on a social contract whereby citizens do certain things from cradle to grave and the state, in return, will look after them. The history of the Nordic nation/welfare states is fraught with tensions and boundary-drawing, however. The historical rise of national in-groups, 'Us', has also produced excluded outgroups, ’Them’, as well as collective amnesias on diversity and mobility. The Us and Them Paradigm can sometimes be hard to see as it is embedded in how we think about society, but it frequently bubbles to the surface in the media, social policy and politics and has done so since the birth of the nation state – with sometimes troubling consequences.

In this podcast, Miika Tervonen who is Senior Research Fellow at the Migration Institute of Finland and Docent at the Centre for Nordic Studies at the University of Helsinki, helps us examine these issues, challenging commonly held assumptions about state, homogeneity and migration.

Listen to this podcast if you are interested in finding out more about:

  • Minorities in Finland;
  • The myth of homogeneity in the Nordics;
  • The politicising and categorising of minorities and migrants;
  • History-writing.

This is the eighth virtual visit around the Nordic countries in the podcast series ’The Nordics Uncovered: Critical Voices from the Region’. Miika and Nicola spoke over Zoom in April 2021.


Some of the peoples, historians etc mentioned this podcast:

  • International Labour Organisation's International indigenous and Tribal People's Convention Treaty
  • the Karelians.
  • the Kvens.
  • the Tornedalians.
  • Mäenkieli language.
  • Väinö Voionmaa (1869-1947).
  • Yrjö Sakari Yrjö-Koskinen (until 1882 Georg Zacharias Forsman) (1830-1903).
  • Sakari Topelius (Zachris Topelius) (1818-898).

Listen to other podcasts in the series: ’The Nordics Uncovered: Critical Voices from the Region’

Further reading:

  • Johan Strang, ed., Nordic Cooperation: A European region in transition. (Abingdon: Routledge, 2015).
  • Jussi Laine and Miika Tervonen, Remaking the Border: Post-Soviet Borderscapes in the Finnish Media’. Chiara Brambilla, Jussi Laine, James W. Scott & Gianluca Bocchi, eds., Borderscaping : imaginations and practices of border making. (Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015).
  • Miika Tervonen, Saara Pellander & Nira Yuval-Davis, ‘Everyday bordering in the Nordic countries’. Nordic Journal of Migration Research 3,8 (2018), 139–142.
  • Miika Tervonen & Anca Enache, ‘Coping with everyday bordering: Roma migrants and gatekeepers in Helsinki’. Journal of Ethnic and Racial Studies 40, 7 (2017) pp. 1114–1131.
  • Miika Tervonen, ‘Going from house to house: exploring Roma encounters in rural Finland through oral history and written reminiscences’. Oral History Journal 44, 2 (2016) pp. 91-99.