Existential Mobilities: Politics of belonging among young people from conflict generated diasporas in Finland and Canada


Academy of Finland postdoctoral project (2017-2020)


Bruno Lefort


What happens when humans settle in a new environment? How do they weave the threads of their life stories back together? The “Existential Mobilities” project explores these simple yet decisive questions from the perspective of young people originating from the Middle East in Finland and Canada. Often accused of bearing multiple allegiances and facing an enduring xenophobia, these young people navigate between transnational attachments, heritage of violence, distrust or even racism, and new hopes. Intimately in-between worlds, they are confronted in their daily lives with the challenge of making sense of their vacillating situations. Adopting a micro, collaborative ethnography approach, this project intends to delve into the multiple ways people redefine their life trajectories, their feeling of “going somewhere” along with the evolutions of their perception of themselves and others as they relocate in new surroundings. Accordingly, “Existential Mobilities” focuses on how transplanted people envision their own situation, how they imagine their new life paths and, consequently, how do they understand their relations with other members of the society, either other immigrants or the majority population. In doing so, this project embraces key social science interrogations on space, time and agency with the intention to investigate how these three dynamics interact with each other.