Studia Historica Septentrionalia 63


Seija Jalagin, ”Not even mail reaches this frightening uncertainty”. Finnish Missionaries’ Winter War in Japan

This article discusses the experiences of a group of expatriate Finns during the Winter War in order to analyse how national identity is related to time and place. During the war, Finnish Protestant missionaries in Japan expressed their otherwise latent national identity in a very active way. The missionaries were suddenly living in two places at the same time. Without precise information and in constant anxiety about their relatives in wartime Finland, the missionaries also worried about the uncertainty of their own circumstances when the war broke information and financial networks between Finland and Japan. Reading the missionary diaries, letters and published texts I study their national, even nationalistic, rhetoric as an indication of the strength of collective national identity that enables even expatriates to reconnect with their homeland. For missionaries this “territorial trap”, the link between state, territoriality and sovereignty as theorized by John Agnew, was also part of their flexible identity negotiation thousands of kilometres away from wartime Finland, yet still mentally part of the collective Finnish nation.

Takaisin Studia Historica Septentrionalia 63