The Duck Pond #5

The Duck Pond #5

Gregory Pellechi har som mål att bli finlandssvensk, men först måste han ta reda på vad det innebär. Kan vem som helst bli finlandssvensk?

I det här avsnittet hör vi Zulmir Becevic, Philip Teir, Susanne Osterlund-Pötzsch, President Barack Obama, Pia Polsa, Ida Schaumann, Sari Pöyhönen and Johanna Fogelström.

Gregory Pellechi has set out to become a Finland Swede, but before he can do that he needs to know what a Finland Swede is.

To start with the premise that one could become a Finland Swede or any minority is without a doubt presumptuous. But what I think sets the Finland Swedish minority apart from others is the fact that it is so open to others. Throughout its history and even today one finds Finland Swedes with a variety of backgrounds.

That variety is possible because Finland Swedes are a linguistic and cultural group. They are not defined by ethnicity, religion or creed. Though they are largely of Finnish descent and protestant or christian in belief. That inherent lack of definition allows Finland Swedes, as a group, to easily include people from Somalia, India, Russia, Mexico and more because there is nothing inherent to being a Finland Swede that excludes others.

 

Exclusion can be a means of defining a group. But it is only one method, and not that precise given the nebulous nature of both people and culture. One of the most confusing aspects for immigrants and foreigners is understanding that Ålanders are not Finland Swedes. Yes, they’re Swedish speakers from Finland but for the most part are not included in the idea of Finland Swedes. And they do so out of choice.

Choice is an interesting element of identity, especially when it comes to group identities. It raises the question – how much does one pick such an identity. It also asks – how much does the group pick you. Acceptance by others is a difficult to judge because it too is so personal. One person may say yes while another may not. With the exception of religion, there probably isn’t a group with such a finely defined line for acceptance. Ethnicity is a quagmire in itself given humanity’s continual migration about the world. Even then we see individual interpretations of who qualifies for inclusion in a particular group.

Not everyone may agree that anyone can become a Finland Swede. But most do. The qualifications to be one are difficult to define though. Is it just a matter of speaking Swedish? Or are there other elements, traditions, or experiences to it? Whatever they may be it is unlikely that any two people will agree. Leaving immigrants who choose to integrate in Swedish to largely define for themselves what it means to be a Finland Swede, let alone a Finn.

Today’s episode included Zulmir Becevic, Philip Teir, Susanne Osterlund-Pötzsch, President Barack Obama, Pia Polsa, Ida Schaumann, Sari Pöyhönen and Johanna Fogelström.

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