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Authors

 

FORGING A SOCIALIST HOMELAND FROM MULTIPLE WORLDS: NORTH AMERICAN FINNS IN SOVIET KARELIA 1921-1938

 

 

Kitty Lam

 

Michigan State University, E-mail: lamkitt1@msu.edu

 

 

Abstract:

In the early 1930s, the Soviet Union recruited an estimated 6,000 Finns from North America to augment the number of skilled workers in the recently established Karelian Autonomous Republic. Using migrants' letters and memoirs held at the Immigration History Research Center, this essay examines how these North American Finns adapted and responded to fluctuating policies in the Soviet Union that originally flaunted the foreign workers as leaders in the Soviet modernization drive and as the vanguard for exporting revolution, but eventually condemned them as an enemy nation to be expunged. It also analyzes the extent to which these immigrants internalized 'building socialism' as part of their encounter with Soviet Karelia. Such an exploration requires assessing how these settlers’ ideological adaptation affected their experiences. This paper argues that by placing the North American Finns’ experience in the wider context of Soviet state building policies, these migrants’ identity formation involved participation in, avoidance of, and opposition to the terms of daily life that emerged within the purview of building socialism.

 

Rezumat:

La începutul anilor ’30, Uniunea Sovietica a recrutat un numar estimat la 6.000 de finlandezi din America de Nord pentru a mari numarul de muncitori calificati din Republica Autonoma Kareliana recent constituita. Prin folosirea scrisorilor si memoriilor imigrantilor pastrate la „Centrul pentru Cercetarea Istoriei Imigratiei” (Immigration History Research Center), acest articol examineaza modalitatea în care acesti finlandezi nord-amerciani s-au adaptat si au raspuns politicilor fluctuante din Uniunea Sovietica care initial i-au prezentat pe muncitorii straini drept lideri ai avântului sovietic de modernizare si ca avangarda în vederea exportului de revolutie, iar apoi i-au condamnat ca pe o natiune inamica care trebuie eliminata. Articolul analizeaza, de asemenea, masura în care acesti imigranti au interiorizat „constructia socialismului” ca parte a întâlnirii lor cu Karelia Sovietica. O asemenea investigatie necesita evaluarea modului în care adaptarea ideologica a acestor imigranti le-a afectat experientele lor de viata. Acest material argumenteaza ca prin plasarea experientei finlandezilor nord-americani în contextul mai larg al politicilor sovietice de constructie statala, formarea identitatii acestor imigranti a implicat concomitent participarea, evitarea si opozitia fata de situatiile vietii cotidiene nascute în procesul de constructie a socialismului.

 

Keywords: Finns; migration; socialism; nationalities; Karelia; Soviet Union; Stalinism; Finnish-Americans


07. Lam.pdf

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