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Borderland Russians: Identity, Narrative and International Relations

This project was about what it means to be a borderland Russian - living in the high north, hailing from the south, with Western neighbours within throwing distance across an increasingly permeable border.

The project touched on some of the big questions in contemporary social science: What is identity? How is it narrated by subjects? Can identities help explain events in international relations? But in addition it addressed some of the ‘smaller’ questions in more specialized fields of the social sciences: How does living close to a border affect people? Are borderland people different from other people? Above all, we asked a few empirical questions about identities in a specific geographic location: What does it mean to be Russian? What does it mean to be a northerner? How do people in Russia’s north-western corner define themselves in relation to their Scandinavian neighbours and their southern relatives?

Project leader: Geir Hønneland

Project period: 2009-2010


Hønneland, Geir, Borderland Russians: Identity, Narrative and International Relations. Basingstoke/New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, 184 p.

Hønneland, Geir, 'Russiske norgesbilder' ('Russian Images of Norway'), Nordlys, 20.10.2010. In Norwegian.

Hønneland, Geir, 'Den russiske nordlendingen' ('The Russian Northerner'), Nordlys, 03.09.2010. In Norwegian.
 Related focal points of research:

   Arctic and Russian politics

Project funding:

   Fridtjof Nansen Institute

Recent relevant FNI News:

Borderland Russians Published in Revised Version (29.01.2013)

Borderland Russians (03.09.2010)

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