Border studies - providing current insight into cultural encounters

Political borders and borders of states. Migration and mobility. Globalisation and societal change. Encounters of religions, cultures and languages. The Borders, mobilities and cultural encounters research area, BOMOCULT, addresses social issues that are extremely topical in today’s world.

One of the university’s strategic, top-level international research areas is Borders, mobilities and cultural encounters. The professors in charge of the research area are James Scott and Jopi Nyman. According to Nyman, the research area found its current form during the formulation of UEF’s strategy.

“At that time, it was observed – not only by us but also by an external panel assessing the university’s research activities – that the university carries out extensive research into borders and different types of encounters, and bringing these together would create opportunities for further developing our research and increasing its impact.”

The emergence of the research area is also rooted in the long-term and recognised research expertise relating to Russia and borders, as well as linguistic and cultural encounters carried out by various disciplines at UEF.

Jopi Nyman

Border-related phenomena

BOMOCULT carries out research in the fields of the humanities and social sciences. The research area comprises three thematic entities, each striving for interdisciplinary research.

“We’ve defined our key themes as European borders and Russia, mobilities and migration, and cultural and linguistic encounters.”

According to Nyman, borders are studied not only as political borders or those of states, but also as processes and spaces that enable various encounters and the emergence of border-related phenomena. In addition to analysing what’s happening today, border-related phenomena and their development are also studied from a historical perspective.

The research topics include citizenship, technology and identities. In addition, BOMOCULT’s research spans a variety of themes, covering linguistic and cultural changes caused by globalisation and societal change, multilingualism, encounters of religions, and mixing of cultures and languages.

“In the field of border studies, our most well-known research groups are those led by Professor James Scott and Professor Ilkka Liikanen. In research addressing mobilities, the research group of Professor Laura Assmuth, and in research addressing cultural and linguistic encounters, the research groups of Professor Markku Filppula, Professor Marjatta Palander and Professor Jopi Nyman, among others, play key roles.”

Great social significance

BOMOCULT has succeeded in making significant scientific achievements that have been published in key international forums, further developing the field. These publications, together with several international conferences organised by UEF, have enabled research carried out at the University of Eastern Finland to assume a prominent international role.

“Our research findings have great social significance, and our researchers are involved in the political discussion pertaining to the research area. They also have roles in collaborative projects carried out together with the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, for example.”

BOMOCULT’s international networks are extensive and BOMOCULT research groups actively collaborate with the field’s other leading researchers and universities.

“We engage in collaboration with universities in nearly all EU countries, as well as with research institutes located in Mexico, China and Russia.”

In addition to these collaborative projects, BOMOCULT researchers also hold memberships in the field’s leading scientific associations, and for example the secretariat of the Association for Borderlands Studies is currently operating at UEF.

“In the future, our research findings will be in great demand especially when solving issues relating to international mobility, borders and security.”