I am Fire but my Environment is the Lighter. A Study on Locality, Mobility, and Youth Engagement in the Barents Region

Tomi Kiilakoski
ISBN: 978-952-7175-06-4
ISSN: 1799-9219
pages: 61
language: English

Finnish Youth Research Society, Finnish Youth Research Network, publications 179, internet publications 98.

This book is also available in PDF format which you can download here.


The pressing issues that young people face appear different when seen from the perspective of urban centres or far-flung rural locations. This study focuses on the very north of the Barents Region, examining the conditions, youth cultures, and the everyday life of the young residents in three locations in Finland, Norway, and Russia. 

The issues of locality, mobility, and engagement are examined by analysing artworks produced by the youth of the region. The study reveals that for the local young people mobility is not only a possibility, it is a social imperative as well. There is a dual task of learning to leave and to be mobile, whilst at the same time understanding the value of their surroundings and community. 

The study provides an insight on how the young people themselves see their lives in the Barents Region and analyses the youth policy implications of these experiences. It offers a counter-narrative to the existing ways of understanding what it is like to grow up in contemporary Europe.

In gratitude 7

Introduction: Barents on my mind 9

I Three perspectives on Barents:
winter, spring and relational geography 13

II The research questions and methodology of the study 21

III Spaces of the young in the Barents Region 25
III.1 Spaces of the young in Inari 27
III.1.1 Nature 27
III.1.2 Home 29
III.1.3 Sauna 31
III.1.4 Hobbies and youth work 32
III.1.5 Media 33
III.2 Spaces of the young 35

IV Leaving: How is the image of Barents affected by mobilities? 37
IV.1 Daily distances 38
IV.2 Youth cultural distances 40
IV.3 Peers leaving 42
IV.4 Facing the imperative of mobility 44
IV.5 Learning to leave 47

V Localities and engagements 49
V.1 “It’s the best place”:
A lot of nature and few youth cultural activities 49
V.2 Hope of returning 51

VI Youth policy recommendations 55

References 57

Abstract 61