I was invited to the 2017 European Researchers’ Night, funded by Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions (European Commission’s Horizon 2020). The event took place at the “Think Corner” (University of Helsinki). You can watch the Unitube video (I was the first one of the evening). Let me share the gist of the talk. It’s a preliminary interpretative attempt.
I believe the decision to go abroad is influenced by a “push-pull” factor: something is attracting and something is pushing away from “home”. One of the activating question for the audience was: “Nobody knows you in the host country: new colleagues at work, new friends, new sentimental relationship. How do you present yourself?”. A) Exactly in the same old way: I want to be 110% who I am back at home. B) I change something: I do not want to be exactly the same person. C) I change everything: I want to be a totally different person.
Once abroad, the Self is separated from the confirming and confining matrix of “home”, it is no longer an emplaced self. In this situation the “actor” is forced and allowed at the same time to present him/herself in a slightly different way. It’s a new stage with a different underpinning story: you cannot play exactly by the same old script. At the same time the young traveller is not socialized to a leading narrative of/for Finland. Thus, in Helsinki you have both the freedom and the possibility (because it’s a well-ordered and functional society) to express yourself. Finland is a mysterious place where you can partially build a new Self-image and play it on the city everyday life stage. A Nordic Self? Of course, I need to think more about this idea.
Pierluca Birindelli's research explores processes of identity-building in another culture. #MSCAnight #tiedekulma @TutkijoidenYo pic.twitter.com/pYlUAB3V1s— Helsinki University (@helsinkiuni) September 29, 2017