Insiders and Outsiders: everyday bordering processes along the Finnish-Russian border and beyond

Campus Joensuu


Dates: 14-25 August 2017
Credits: 5 ECTS
Teaching language: English
Level: Master, Bachelor
Max. number of attendees: 15 students

Coordinator: Dr. Paul Fryer, paul.fryer(at)
Responsible department: Department of Social Sciences
Learning outcomes: The objective of the course is to introduce the students to current state-of-the-art research on borders as bridges and as barriers in societies. A border perspective makes many crucial phenomena of social and cultural change visible: processes of Othering and xenophobia, as well as co-operation, transnationalism and everyday encounters as they take place at and across borders, are explained and discussed. Key theoretical ideas such as bordering (de- and re-bordering) as well as discourses on political, geographical, multi-scalar and symbolic (cultural, ethnic, religious) borders are employed and discussed. The students are engaged with such topical issues as worsening international relations, politicisation of border-related phenomena, growing inequalities and effects of globalisation from the unique vantage point of border studies. The starting point for the analyses is the context of the Finnish-Russian border, but other relevant contexts as well as more theoretical insights are also presented. Noted experts in multi-disciplinary border studies will deliver the lectures.


Besides an introduction to borders as changing phenomenon and to border studies, the lectures include those on the historical construction of Russian and Soviet borders; people’s everyday lives at former Soviet borders; European Union neighbourhood policies and practices; the Finnish-Russian political relationship; civil society engagements, economic developments and migration and transnationalism across the Finnish-Russian border; and the border city of Vyborg/Viipuri (in Finnish). The course concludes with a lecture on the current and future challenges of border encounters.

The course includes an overnight guided visit to the near-by Russian city of Vyborg to experience Finnish-Russian cross-border interactions in practice through guided and self-directed tours, assigned group fieldwork and lectures and presentations by the course researchers and by local practitioners.

Modes of study

The course is comprised of a series of lectures (altogether 20 hours) and course diary, and excursion assignment (5 ECTS). A 2-day excursion (1 night) to Vyborg, Russia at participants’ own expense (estimation of costs 130 euros, accommodation in double rooms, travel under visa-free regime) is a compulsory part of the course. The amount of the costs will be confirmed later. Participants will be divided into groups for the excursion and be asked to take photographs on a relevant theme that will be presented at the end of the course.

Study materials: Readings and other teaching materials will be announced and made available through the university’s e-learning platform Moodle well before the beginning of the course. Students are to engage in some preparatory reading for the course.

Evaluation criteria: Students are expected to participate actively in all organised activities and to demonstrate having achieved the required level of knowledge in light of the learning outcomes, to be graded 0-5. The grade will be comprised of: participation – 20%; course diary – 50%; group assignment – 30%.

Eligibility: All current Master’s degree students registered at an accredited university in Finland or abroad with a major in e.g., sociology, social and public policy, geography, history, or a relevant field from the social sciences or humanities are eligible. Doctoral students may also participate as group leaders.

Proposed Lectures (to be confirmed)

1. Introduction to Borders and Border Studies

2. Historical construction of Russian and Soviet Union Borders

3. Everyday lives at former Soviet borders

4. Civil society engagements across the Finnish-Russian border

5. EU Neighbourhood policies and practices

6. Finnish-Russian political relationship

7. Economic developments along the Finnish-Russian border

8. Migration and Transnationalism along the Finnish-Russian border

9. Vyborg/Viipuri: border city

10. Globalisation and Challenges of Border Encounters