The Antiracist Reading List is BACK for it’s Third Season!

Welcome to the new academic year!


We hope the summer has been restful and joyful for you and that you have the energy and motivation to start the new academic year, regardless if you are a newcomer or an “oldie” to the program.


The start of a new academic year also entails the start of a new Antiracist Reading List. Once again we will recommend one book per month for the whole academic year. We will also, similarly to last year, have three themes that we will recommend books in, meaning three books per theme. Our themes this year will be Institutional Racism, Indigenous Knowledge and Banned Books.  Our first theme will be Institutional Racism and the first book we are recommending within this theme is Sara Ahmed’s book On Being Included: Racism and Diversity in Institutional Life (2012). 


What are the Consequences of the Rwanda Scheme in a Geopolitical Context: The Domino Effect and Why Rwanda?

Written by Rose Armitage


The announcement and implementation of the UK’s new scheme will have consequences for the global geopolitical space. There is this understanding that it may create a geopolitical domino effect amongst many other countries. Furthermore, the safety of Rwanda to receive high amounts of deportations from multiple countries has also not been assessed.


 Countries Becoming Deportation Machines

Asylum-seeking systems are widely inadequate in economically advantaged countries. Fekete (2005) classified the European approach to migration as becoming a deportation machine where trauma and human rights abuses are disregarded. Many governments adopt the position that migration may threaten the stability of the country but also use the trope through party politics as a mechanism to cater towards populist movements. Haselsberger (2014) points out that borders can have a functional geopolitical and symbolical role. Symbolically, the scheme sets a precedent that asylum-seeking can be approached by the manipulation of power through the agreement of a financial deal instead of attending to obligations and responsibilities. It is pointed out by human rights organisations, and likewise by the UNHCR and the EU that as more countries adopt more deportation schemes, more will follow causing a domino effect (Al Jazeera, 2021) as it gives a green light to abuse people’s human right to claim asylum. However, it is argued that because the public response was generally negative, it would not contribute to other countries taking the same path, especially due to past deportation schemes, such as Australia expelling migrants to the island state of Nauru. (Höni, 2022). These examples and Rwanda could act more as a caution instead of an example. (Barry, 2022). Despite there being an inference that the scheme could be an example acting as a deterrent, the evidence suggests that more governments in economically advantaged countries are adopting similar methods. It is a dangerous example to set, a “socially constituent power practice” (Hasselberg, 2014), as it doesn’t commit to tackling the crisis with care and acknowledging the needs of the individuals but instead threatens those in difficult and vulnerable situations.


The Domino Effect

There are a handful of countries in recent years that have adopted deportation schemes that are strung with financial deals including Australia, Israel, Denmark, and US. (Al Jazeera, 2021). BMJ (2022) points to assessments of current deportation schemes such as in Australia that have led to humanitarian catastrophes with heavy death tolls. From the notion of “the assertion that every future encapsulates history” (Kwazema, 2022), as more countries adopt deportation schemes history is being written for the future to encapsulate the same exclusionary ideas. If more countries do not sustain their obligations in relation to asylum seeking it is more likely that it will materialise as a normality. Significantly, as we are living in an age with globalised mass-media showpiece politics in the geopolitical setting can be dangerously utilised more if countries advertise their refugee system as hostile fleeing asylum seekers will be less willing to seek help and safety when in need. In addition, it will also put on more pressure on the countries that are processing asylum seekers justly. It is hypothesised that once Denmark brought in new legalisations in June 2021 that allow for the removal of people once they were made aware that the UK was exploring the option with Rwanda Demark proceeded to arrange a similar agreement evidencing this domino effect in action. (Höni, 2021).


Why Rwanda?

Rwanda has agreed to the partnership due to the economic benefits it will receive but also as an opportunity to become more involved as an international player. Shortly after the scheme was announced, the Human Rights Watch (2022) sent a letter to the UK Home Secretary strongly urging the government to reconsider the plan. It is a clear abrogation of the UK’s international responsibilities and obligations whereby the scheme would be acting against the 1951 Refugee Convention. The letter also detailed the human rights issues occurring in Rwanda related to repression of free speech, arbitrary detention, ill-treatment, and torture by Rwandan authorities; moreover, it stressed it is a country still recovering and dealing with the national trauma of the genocide. It is questionable currently how viable and effective the integration of refugees (who have been deported against their will) into Rwanda given their political instabilities, injustices, and national trauma. As UK and Denmark have both made deals with Rwanda along with Switzerland and Canada paying Rwanda to take Libyan refugees since 2019 (Höni, 2022) it has not been investigated the impacts of accepting these deportations from several different countries on the Rwandan society.



Conclusively, whilst the argument has been put forward that the UK’s plan and similar plans in other countries will not cause a geopolitical domino effect of other countries following suit, I would disagree. Countries that introduce legislation and systems that blatantly violates human rights has a role in influencing other countries. More may orientate themselves towards the same power plays especially amongst high rising populism. This results in further contributing to ethical blind spots and disregarding’s people’s needs and well-being.



Al Jazeera. 2021. Danish parliament approves law to deport asylum seekers. Available from: Danish parliament approves law to deport asylum seekers | Migration News | Al Jazeera

Barry, E. 2022. Britain Is Sending Asylum-Seekers to Rwanda. It Sets a Dangerous Precedent. Time, Available from: U.K. Sends Asylum-Seekers to Rwanda, a Dangerous Development | Time

BMJ. 2022. UK-Rwanda migration plan fails to safeguard refugees’ medical care, say campaigners. Available from: UK-Rwanda migration plan fails to safeguard refugees’ medical care, say campaigners |B The BMJ

Fekete, L. 2005. The deportation machine: Europe, asylum and human rights. Race and Class, 47(1), pp.64-78.

Höni, J. 2022 Out of Sight, out of Mind?: Why the UK-Rwanda Deal on Offshore Migration Processing May (Not) Serve as an Example for Other Immigration-Skeptic States in the Global North, Völkerrechtsblog.

Haselsberger, B. 2014. Decoding borders. Appreciating border impacts on space and people. Planning Theory & Practice, 15(4), pp.505-26.

Human Rights Watch. 2022. Public Letter to UK Home Secretary on Expulsions to Rwanda. Available from: Public Letter to UK Home Secretary on Expulsions to Rwanda | Human Rights Watch (

Kwazema, M. 2022. The Future as an Agency of Social Exclusion: Analysing the Ethnopolitical Exclusion of the Igbo People of Nigeria. In: Alemanji, A.A., Meijer, C.M., Kwazema, M., Benyah, F.E.K. (eds) Contemporary Discourses in Social Exclusion. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.


Read Rose’s first blog post here.

Critiquing the UK’s Rwanda Deportation Scheme: How it Deviates from Tackling the Issues Within the Migration System and Abuses Human Rights and Asylum-Seeking Obligations  

Written by Rose Armitage


Social exclusion in a geographical migration context can be defined as political and economic power structures at play that discriminate individuals moving from one place to another. UK’s Rwanda Scheme first announced in 2022, is a prime example of geographical social exclusion as it violates the country’s human rights obligations for people to claim asylum safely. I want to discuss the additions and damages of media and political discourses and how perception and language feed into persisting problems of division by power, the relationship between law and showpiece politics and what this means for human rights of asylum seekers. An asylum seeker can be defined as an individual seeking international protection due to fleeing their country of origin because of fear of persecution and a refugee is an asylum seeker who has been legally recognised (Amnesty International, 2019).


What is the Rwanda Scheme?

The Rwanda Scheme is a financial deal between the UK and Rwanda which implements systematic deportation of people who enter the UK to be deported to Rwanda if they enter the UK ‘unofficially’. However, it’s virtually impossible to claim asylum unless already in the country; therefore, the plan creates a paradoxical situation for asylum seekers. Reports (Sky, 2022) state that migration politics have long been susceptible to language that contributes to a perception that migration and asylum seeking is an issue of securitization. Securitization, in the context of international relations, refers to approaching an issue with the mindset that a certain issue is a crisis; therefore, it should be approached with urgency, threat and defence (Munster, 2012). The mobility of people whether migration or asylum seeking should never be considered an issue of securitisation. Historically, deportation has an association with crime; between the 16th and 18th century, convicts were transported from Britain and Ireland to various penal colonies such as Australia. As asylum-seeking is increasingly viewed as a securitization rather than a humanitarian issue, the dimension and association of criminality stick. In politics, the topic of migration is handled with the labels of “illegal” and “legal”. Furthermore, there is also a frequent use of the term “bogus” and “irregular migration”; within the former prime minister of Britain, Boris Johnson’s, speech we hear this terminology along with phrases like “These vile people smugglers are abusing the vulnerable” (, 2022) said with hypocrisy as, after all, what is deportation if not people smuggling and what is more vulnerable than doing this against someone’s will. Since last year’s speech the new Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, consistently remarks on the implementation of the deportation scheme and states deportations will happen “within days” and not months or years (Guardian, 2023).

Not only does the scheme impact the victim but further the hostility of marginalised individuals living in the UK. This political and media discourse generates exclusivity and racism which indirectly impacts xenophobia and racism in the UK. This intensifies the social exclusive lens of many people, encouraging support from those who hold populist ideals.


The Root of the Problem

The scheme alludes to solving migration issues as the UK government expects that the scheme will be a deterrent for asylum seekers coming to the UK. However, statistics show that there has been a minor change in the number of asylum seekers entering the UK since the scheme was announced (BBC, 2022). Chaloner et al. (2022) indicate that for several decades, the Home Office has consistently opted for methods that deter people from migrating and claiming asylum in the UK. Changes in the system are rarely implemented, despite presenting a rhetoric that the numbers are unmanageable. Chaloner et al. (2022) rightly categorise the government’s method as one of “disposing of” as opposed to a deterrent. Several organisations confirmed that such a scheme is unlawful and incompatible with Art. 31 (1) of the 1951 Refugee Convention, which forbids penalization of refugees for illegal entry (Höni, 2022). Despite this, in January 2023 after a long legal process, the high court upheld ruling the scheme as lawful, meaning in the coming months the plan can be actualised. Human Rights Watch (2022) also analysed that the plan would create a 2-tier refugee system through the categories of “illegal” and “legal”. Although the implementation of the scheme would make it very hard and restricted for people to claim asylum through the “legal” way, as you must be within the country to do so, the whole thing is barbaric. The only requirement to obtain refugee status should only ever be moving away from the threat of persecution or serious harm. The issue of people entering the country “unofficially” is a clear indicator of the failings of the UK government to provide safe and easy accessibility in the first place. Furthermore, the Rwanda scheme is a clear “structural, institutional or agentive process of repulsion or obstruction,” (Fischer, 2011), which will solidify a systemic exclusive nature in the future.


What Needs to Happen?

The scheme attributes against the needed changes within the migration system as discourse shifting is needed to able to help those in need. What is meant by discourse shifting is a change from viewing asylum-seeking with an exclusive, securitized, and hostile nature and towards being viewed as a humanitarian and social crisis. Deportations need to stop they are cruel and inhumane but also expensive and resource-consuming. A charity, Migrant Action (2021) understands that the UK needs to adopt changes that undergo research-based methods to grasp why the system is ineffective and failing so many. In addition to this, it is salient to transform these hostile environments so that within the many stages of the migration system, it is addressed as humanitarian as opposed to a legal battle. There have been numerous accounts of those who have been threatened by deportation which has severely impacted their mental health. Caato (2022), a writer for Al Jazeera, reported people having suicidal thoughts and going on hunger strikes in protest of the scheme. Campbell (2017) investigated the complexities and the faults of the UK’s migration system and concluded that it was an extremely lengthy process, involving several language tests and court hearings; any inconsistencies in paperwork may threaten the person’s chance of gaining refuge and put many at cumulative disadvantages. In addition to this, it is not uncommon for someone to get lost within the system. The mess of the migration with the addition of the scheme will catalyse a humanitarian crisis, as it will provide systematic efficiency and contribute to a harsher inside/outside dichotomy.



The UK’s move to further perpetuate social exclusions as a securitization issue, creating a framework where there’s a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to be an asylum seeker, is damaging to social exclusion in a geopolitical context as undermining international standards contributes to the ineffectiveness and protection of them when they are violated. Conclusively, the announcement has treacherously stimulated public uproar, creating a divisive showpiece that is using time and resources that could be diverted elsewhere. It alludes to solving migration issues, in contrast to getting to the root of the issue; there should be a focus on attending to these inefficient systems that are failing many people and perpetuating these issues further.



Amnesty International. 2019. Do you know the difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker? The most common refugee terminology explained. 24 January. Available from: What’s the difference between a refugee and an asylum seeker? (

BBC, 2022. What is the UK’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda? Available from: What is the UK’s plan to send asylum seekers to Rwanda? – BBC News

Caato, Mohamed Bashir. 2022. Al Jazeera. ‘I’ll take my life’: UK refugees being deported to Rwanda despair. Available from: ‘I’ll take my life’: UK refugees being deported to Rwanda despair | Refugees News | Al Jazeera

Campbell, J. 2017. Bureaucracy, Law, and Dystopia in the United Kingdom’s Asylum System. Routledge: London

Chaloner, J. Baggaley, R. Ryan, B. Nellums, L. 2022. Deter or dispose? A critique of the relocation of asylum applicants to Rwanda and its public health implications. Regional Health, 18 100442. 2022. PM speech on action to tackle illegal migration: 14 April 2022. Available from: PM speech on action to tackle illegal migration: 14 April 2022 – GOV.UK (

Guardian. 2023. Rishi Sunak says people arriving in UK illegally will be deported ‘within days by Jessica Elgot and Rajeev Syal. 2 February. Available from: Rishi Sunak says people arriving in UK illegally will be deported ‘within days’ | Immigration and asylum | The Guardian

Höni, J. 2022 Out of Sight, out of Mind?: Why the UK-Rwanda Deal on Offshore Migration Processing May (Not) Serve as an Example for Other Immigration-Skeptic States in the Global North, Völkerrechtsblog.

Migrant Action. 2022. WHAT WE DO. Available from: Migrant Action

Munster, R V. 2012. The concept of Securitization. Oxford Bibliographies. Available from: Securitization – International Relations – Oxford Bibliographies

Sky. 2022. What is the Rwanda deportation scheme and why is it controversial? 14 June. Available from: What is the Rwanda deportation scheme and why is it controversial? – YouTube

Read Rose’s second blog post here.

Possible Summer Activities



We are only a month away from the end of this academic year, meaning that the summer holiday is soon upon us! The summer can be spent in various ways, like visiting family and friends, going on a vacation, reading that book you have been planning to read all semester long or simply enjoying the summer sun. In this blog post, we have collected some ideas of how to spend your summer if you choose to stay and spend your summer holiday in Turku.


work during the summer

The summer should hands down be a time for relaxation and a time to charge one’s batteries. However, some might be interested in doing some work, whether that is academic work or non-academic work. Here you can find a list of both types of work that you can do during the summer.

    • Starting with academic work. Many of our students might begin doing research for their thesis during the summer, which can benefit the workload of thesis writing in the fall. Some of the university libraries are also open during the summer and it is worth visiting their webpage for more information if you need to borrow a book or two. The university space is also open for students during the summer if they possess an HID key. Read more on how to receive one here ( log in with university credentials).
    • The Open University at ÅAU offers summer courses which can be found here.
    • The summer can also be an ideal time to do an internship. More info on internships can be found here or by contacting the staff of the master’s program.
    • If you are not interested in doing any academic work during the summer but would like to receive more career-related experiences we recommend a summer job. You can see the site for JobTeaser, which advertises internships and summer jobs on their site, but you can also see the vacant summer job positions on Career in Southwest Finland.  You can also see the following sites for summer jobs: Duunitori, Jobly, Oikotie and some organizations also market their open positions on Facebook or on Instagram.

Summer Jobs" Images – Browse 32 Stock Photos, Vectors, and Video | Adobe Stock

Activities during the summer

However, the summer is, as mentioned, meant for relaxing and work is not mandatory. The master’s program is scheduled and planned to be completed during the academic year, so there is no need for studies to take place during the summer, only if one has the desire to. In the summer we do encourage our students to take a vacation if possible to have the necessary energy for the next academic year. Here are some summertime activities you can do if you decide to spend your holiday in Turku.

    • Visit the archipelago. The Southwest region in Finland has a beautiful and peaceful archipelago that is easy to visit by bus or by boat. You can visit some of the smaller islands on a day trip or even stay at the site for some nights and rent a cabin. For more info about the archipelago and how to visit the islands kindly see Visit Turku’s webpage.
      Turun saaristo - vuokramökit ja majoitus: 86 kpl |


  • Attend a music festival! During the summer there are many events happening in Turku. Music events being is one of them. Annually music festivals are Kesärauha, Aura Fest, DBTL (Down By the Laituri) and Ruisrock to mention some of the bigger happenings. These festivals have both Finnish and international artists.

Kesän Ruisrock peruuntuu koronavirustilanteen vuoksi |


  • If music festivals aren’t your scene, there are also other events happening in the summer, like a medieval fair, the Paavo Nurmi marathon and various other events that you can find on the official site of the city of Turku or on Visit Turku’s webpageYou can also visit the Moominworld located about an hour from Turku centre.

The Medieval Market Of Turku Stock Photos, Pictures & Royalty-Free Images - iStock


    • Enjoy the riverside in Turku. The Aura River that runs through the city of Turku also comes alive in a different way during the summer. You can, for instance, spend a lovely sunny day by the riverside and enjoy an ice cream from one of many ice cream kiosks. You can also enjoy a nice beverage at one of the many bar boats, such as Donna or Papa Joe. But you can also walk along the river and look at the scenery on both sides of the river, all the way from the Turku castle to the Cathedral to the lovely park area upstream.
  • Top 10 tekemistä Turussa - Kohteena maailma


    • Picnic in a park. There are multiple parks located around the city, which offer a nice break from city life and an opportunity to enjoy nature. Parks near the centre where you can spend a nice day having a picnic with friends, get your tan going or read a book are Kuppittaan Park, Vartiovuori, Puolaanpuisto, Tuomaanpuisto, The park surrounding the Paavo Nurmi stadion and Samppalinnanpuisto.
  •  70+ ilmaista Turku & Suomi kuvaa - Pixabay


    • The City of Turku also has multiple outdoor trails, with various different themes and distances. Some of the trails are fitness oriented, these trails include stairs and hills, while other trails are in nature parks or culture-themed trails, such as a love excursion in Turku following different love stories in the city and a walk following war traces from the civil war and the Second world war.  These trails are easy to follow by downloading the pdf from the website and a fun way to explore the city with friends or family. You can find the different trails here.
    • Do nothing! Relaxing also entails not doing anything! Just enjoy your time, relax, remember to keep yourselves hydrated and take care of yourselves.The Beauty of Finnish Summer - Sunset reflections on lake … | Flickr

What To Do After Receiving Your Acceptance Letter?

Åbo Akademi University sent out the Acceptance Letters to all admitted students on March 31st, 2023 and all students should have also received a Welcome Letter from the program. Having received these letters we hope you are excited about this next chapter in your life, but you might also be filled with questions about what to do next? No worries, we in the program have compiled a list of things to do after you get your letter.  We know that the process is different for all students depending on country of origin and nationality, however, we wanted to gather a general checklist to help you with the process of arriving safely here in Turku Finland.


Checklist after receiving your acceptance letter to the program


✅ Accept or decline your position. This is the first step all students should do, namely to either accept your position or decline it and we kindly ask all students, regardless of the decision, to do so as soon as possible.  If you choose to accept your position, we are happy and eager to meet you in the fall, and the earlier you accept your position the sooner you can start with all the necessary preparation to start your studies. Alternatively, if you decide to decline your position, for whatever reason, it means that your position will most likely go to a student on the waiting list.  In other words, the earlier you decline the more time you will give to another student to start the process of starting their studies at ÅAU.


✅ Book an appointment at the Embassy. Yearly, we have students that are unable to start their studies in the fall as scheduled, many times due to delays with the embassy. This is why we want to stress the urgency of booking an appointment at the embassy in time and as soon as possible. This process can be time-consuming and the estimated time duration for each applicant can easily be extended. There are various reasons for this, mainly that there are many students who aspire to arrive in Finland in the fall, leading to the embassies having plenty of workloads. Additionally, many of the applications are handled during the summer, when many are on vacation, and the staff is fewer than usual. Due to these reasons, we kindly ask all incoming students to book a time at the embassy in good time, since it does take longer than one might assume. In other words, let us repeat, book your appointment at the embassy in good time.


✅ Plan your arrival in Turku, Finland. Every student’s process to arrive in Turku is different, depending plenty on the student’s country of origin and nationality. However, planning one’s travel is essential. As there are different requirements for entering Finland we kindly ask all students to see the  Finnish Immigration Service’s webpage for more detailed information.

    • Additionally, health insurance is mandatory for all students who are non-EU/EEA nationals coming to ÅAU. The university has information on this (see here). There are many different insurances you can apply for, but some of our students (and alumni) recommend Swisscare insurance.
    • We also recommend that when you plan your arrival to Turku, to also book your flight tickets in advance. The prices are usually cheaper the earlier to purchase them and this also helps you place a timeframe for your travels. However, do not book your ticket too early so you do not risk having to rebook the ticket, if you would not have gotten a residence permit by the time of your planned travel.
    • When you have started the process of all the necessary paperwork that is needed for you to start your studies, start looking for an apartment. This can also be a long process, since many students, national and international, are in looking for an apartment in the fall. Many students apply for housing via TYS, or Turku Student Village FoundationTYS has many housing opportunities in different locations in Turku, but the accommodations that are closest to the campus of ÅAU are Aitioipaikka, Ikituuri, Nummenranta, Tavastia, Tyyssija, YO-kylä Itä, YO-kylä Länsi, and YO-talot. However, the other locations that TYS also has accommodations at are also an approximately 15-30 min bus or slightly longer bike ride from the campus and Turku city centre.


Lastly, if you have any questions regarding the admissions process kindly reach out to the admissions office at ÅAU. If you have program-specific questions, such as about courses or program structure, you can reach out to any of the personnel at the program. However, kindly note that during the first week of your studies, called the orientation week, you will most likely receive answers to all the questions you might have, which aren’t essential for you to know before your arrival. In other words, focus on arrival, and then you can focus on further issues and questions. We kindly also recommend you take a look at our blog page on Starting Your Studies.


Good luck with each and everyone’s process of arriving in Turku, Finland. We eagerly await your arrival.

The Day of Minna Canth

On March 19th we celebrate the day of Minna Canth and the day of equality.


Minna Canth

Minna Cath became the first woman to be celebrated with having a dedicated official day of hoisting the Finnish flag. Therefore, ever since 2007, you can see a Finnish flag waving at the top of each flagpole on March 19th. But who really was Minna Canth and why do we celebrate her?



Minna Canth (then Johnsson) around 17 years of age

Minna Canth (1844–1897) was an educated writer, businesswoman and activist. She (then known as Ulrika Wilhelmina Johnsson) was born on March 19th 1844 in Tampere, Finland and her parents wanted her to have a good education. She moved to Jyväskylä in 1863 to proceed with her studies to become a teacher. It was also here that she started to go by the name Minna Johnson. However, her studies were interrupted when she got married to Johan Ferdinand Canth. After staying home for some years as a housewife, she started writing in her husband’s newspaper about injustice in Finnish society. During this time she used pseudonyms, such as Wilja, Teppo and M.C. This also led to her becoming the first Finnish-speaking female journalist. Having visited some plays she also became interested in writing screenplays.


While Minna Cath was pregnant with her seventh child, her husband died and she became a single mother at the age of 35. To provide for her family, she moved to Kuopio and started working for her father and on the side, she writes plays. In her writings, Minna Canth often reflected on real issues and strived to better the situation of women and people living in poverty. In 1885 she released her play “Työmiehen vaimo” [The Wife of a Worker], which became the first realism play in Finnish. She later published many more plays, eight extended short stories and a two-part novel collection. She wrote from her home, which not only became her workspace but also a community space, called “salonki” [the salon]. Here various writers and artists at the time such as Akseli Gallen-Kallela, Järnefelt and Sibelius spent time. It was also here where “Kuopion naisintelligenssi” [the women intelligence of Kuopoio] was formed, which was a collective that discussed relevant social issues and made statements regarding injustices. This space Minna Canth created in her own living room was considered a liberal and free environment and she also supported freedom of religion. Minna Canth upheld the salon until her death in 1897 when she passed at the age of 53 due to a heart attack.

Neljä naista pelaamassa Skruuvipeliä pöydän ääressä Kanttilan salongissa. Henkilöt vasemmalta Hanna Guseff, Alma Tervo, Maiju Canth ja Minna Canth vuonna 1890-1896.
Minna Canth (right) with (from left to right) Hanna Guseff, Alma Tervo and Maiju Canth playing Skruuvia sometime between 1890-1896.


Minna Canth is considered one of the most important Finnish screenplay writers and prosaist along with Aleksis Kivi. She has also paid the way for numerous women to enter male-dominated spaces. She was privileged in society with her education and status, and it is said that she was aware of her status and used it to uplift others. It is also said that Minna Canth was the frontperson of realism in Finland, where she depicted the life of women as it truly was. This was something she was thoroughly criticized for, but she did not care. She spent time with the women she wrote about and knew that their experiences, lives and stories were real. Her life is said to have had a tremendous impact on the Finnish society and equality.


Minna Canth mustavalkoisessa kuvassa.



Minna Canthin päivä, tasa-arvon päivä 19.3. | Ihminen ja yhteiskunta | Oppiminen |

Finland celebrates equality on Minna Canth Day | News | Yle Uutiset



Tips for first-time flight travelers

written by Alice Chunga


When I got accepted into the master’s degree program in Social Exclusion and had to travel from Malawi to Turku, Finland, I knew I would have to fly for the first time. It was stressful but also thrillingly exciting knowing where I was going and what awaited me there. Regardless, after my experience, I compiled a list of things that would help any first-time flyer.


1. Make sure you have all your documents in one place. Flying can be stressful, with tracking the departure time and gate mixed with the excitement and nervousness of flying. Hence having all your documents in one place eases this stress. You always know in what bag/ folder you have your essential documents so nothing will get lost.


2. Make sure you check what you can bring or not bring on the plane. All airlines have a list of things you are not allowed to bring. Some things are given, like explosives and fireworks, however, some things can be more unknown so worth checking this before arriving at the airport.


3. Check what to pack in which bag. What you put in your cabin bag is different from what you put in your checked bag. One example of this is the allowed amount of liquids. You are not allowed to have liquids in bottles of more than 100ml in your cabin bag. However, in your checked bag you can have liquids in bottles that exceed 100ml.


4. Bring a neck pillow especially if your flight is long. Your neck will thank you!


5. To help with motion sickness take some gum. Chewing gum or sucking on hard candy can also help your ears not get blocked during takeoff and landing (prevents or helps with airplane ears).


6. Pack a snack. Especially on a long flight they usually have some food or snack that you can purchase on the airplane, however, a more affordable option is to have your own snacks. This way you also assure that you get something you actually like and will have a more pleasant flight.


7. Always ask for help if you are not sure about anything. It might seem scary to ask random individuals, but people are surprisingly helpful. Airports also have info desks where you can always get service, but other customers can also be of assistance. You never know that you can run into someone with the same destination as you. Additionally, the info boards with all flight information are also frequently displayed, however, can be difficult to read, so ask anyone to assist you with this matter.


8. If your flight has been delayed, do not panic, ask. Flight being delayed and gates being changed is normal, however, annoying and stressful for a first-time flyer. Regardless of these situations, DO NOT PANIC and ask someone for assistance. Some delays can be hours and this can feel stressful, but ask for guidance and check the info boards, and all things will be arranged.


I hope these tips were of assistance and will help you when you yourself travel abroad or fly for the first time.

My documented journey: Dorcus Asiimwe

written by Dorcus Asiimwe


The story of my journey from Uganda to Finland started in December 2021 when I received the link for the application to the Master’s program from a friend. In January I started filling out the online application and submitted it within the application time. I mostly want to share about the process I went through after receiving the amazing news of being admitted up to my arrival in Finland and how life has been until now.


In Kenya for my Visa interview

I received my admission to the program on the 1st of April. Soon after I received admission, my next step was applying for a Finland Residence Permit. I choose to apply online because it is most recommended. Since Finland has no Embassy in Uganda I had to visit Kenya to prove my identity and have an interview. Amongst the requirements when applying for my sake were having a valid passport and not less than 6720 Euros in my bank account to ensure I have enough money for my living expenses throughout the first year of my study.


By 4th April 2022, all previous Uganda passports became invalid and everyone who needed to travel from Uganda had to apply for and pay for a new E-passport. I started applying for the new passport in February and I had my first interview appointment on the 6th of April, after this, it should take about 2 weeks to have your passport printed, which timewise was perfect for me having gotten the admission letter a week prior.


When I finally received my passport

My anticipation was not right though it instead turned out to be the worst experience throughout the process. The first issue was I could only complete the interview by speaking in my tribal language because I cannot yet speak it fluently. This led to me having to appear at the Ministry of internal affairs four times. It is a hustle getting the appointment but more traumatizing to understand you can be denied a passport on grounds of not being able to fluently speak a language. For the last interview, I went with my auntie who spoke the language on my behalf, which was the only way for me to pass the interview. The excitement was for a short time though because it was then officially announced that there was a shortage of passport printing papers in Uganda. Hence, only people who were going to travel under emergency circumstances could get their passports printed. In such a desperate situation, I consulted a lot of people and went to different offices for help, doing everything possible with no progress but finally, I connected to the right office where I got help and I had my passport.


In Istanbul waiting for my transit flight to Helsinki

Consequently, I was running late with booking an appointment at the Finnish Embassy in Kenya, therefore I was advised to book a primetime appointment, which I did and choose a day I preferred. This primetime appointment has a fee but it is worth trying, to avoid delays and to guarantee an appointment at the embassy. My friend was kind enough to financially sponsor me in this regard. Within one week I got a positive decision and in another week my Residence Permit Card was ready to be picked up. Now all I had to do was board my flight in Uganda and fly to Helsinki, Finland and then continue my journey to the city of Turku, my destination.


Throughout this process, I relied on the support of students who had gone or were going through the same process and followed all the platforms by the University for advice and clarity.

With my friend, Melina, who helped me along my journey to Turku


I arrived in Finland on the 4th of August and got first-class treatment from my friend and her family who hosted me for a week and gave me the best orientation until I went to my own apartment. Now I am happily studying and enjoying Finland.

At the Street Food event and meeting the rector of Åbo Akademi University, Mikael Lindfelt
Me on one of many bridges in Turku, which goes over the Aura river


Depression in the “World’s Happiest Country”: Notions of Social Exclusion in Finland

Written by Johanna Poggemann


When reading up on Finland’s global rankings, one comes across a lot of positive reports: It is supposed to be the most stable (The Global Economy 2021) and the freest country in the world alongside Sweden and Norway (Freedom House 2021) while also having the best education and life satisfaction (OECD 2021). Overall, it is said to be the happiest country in the world (World Happiness Report 2021). Yet, looking deeper, Finland also reports some of the highest depression cases worldwide (WHO 2017).


I have always wondered about this distinct discrepancy. How can one country top the rankings both for happiness and depression? And how does this affect its people?


Being diagnosed with depression can have several impacts, not only on an individual’s own life but also on their social environment and even the country’s economy. One factor that has not been researched enough in the domain of mental illness in Finland is that of social exclusion. Hence, questions arise: What notions of social exclusion can be found in the exclusion of the depressed in Finland?  How are depressed people excluded from Finnish society and what concept of social exclusion can be used to grasp what is happening?


This was the goal for a paper I have written in my “Social Exclusion” class, building on the works of Ruth Levitas (2005), Hilary Silver (1994) and Amartya Sen (2000).  Here, I would now like to present an excerpt of my findings, focusing solely on the analysis of the social exclusion of the depressed in Finland through the lens of Sen’s work. I have chosen Sen because, in my paper, his theory proved to be the most fruitful for this goal.


Definition of Social Exclusion

Amartya (2000) is an Indian economist and philosopher who has made contributions to several fields of study. In his works, he connects social exclusion to a specific term – capability deprivation. The capability deprivation approach is multidimensional and defined by its focus on the moral significance of individuals’ “distinct capabilities and functioning that [they] have reason to value” (ibid.: 4). In other words, it is a normative approach that concentrates on the actual capability of persons to achieve their well-being rather than their mere freedom or right to do so. One aspect which can be seen as an example of how capability deprivation takes the form of social exclusion is “being able to appear in public without shame” (ibid.: 4). This corresponds to the significance of participating in community life and living a social life. Focusing primarily on poverty, Sen emphasises that social deprivation/the inability to interact freely with others is an important implication for social exclusion. Another aspect is employment. According to Sen, being excluded from the opportunity of employment may lead to economic impoverishment which, in turn, may lead to other deprivations such as homelessness or undernourishment (ibid.: 5). As a result, social exclusion can be seen as both a part of capability deprivation and a cause of different capability failures (ibid.).


Depression in Finland

Finland has the highest estimated incidence of mental disorders in the EU (close to one in five) (OECD 2020). The most common mental disorders, anxiety, and depression, affect above 7% of Finns. While these can affect people for a couple of weeks or months, they can also last a lifetime (ibid.). Finland also places 9th worldwide among countries with the highest depression rates (World Population Review 2021). While the prevalence of mental illnesses appears to have remained mostly stable in Finland over the past 30 years (Pulkki-Råback et al. 2012), socio-economic health differences have increased and are larger than in many other European countries. Correspondingly, mental disorders currently constitute the number one cause of early retirement. Particularly depression poses a more serious threat to the economy and working life than any other disease group (ibid.), which also has serious social/societal implications.


Notions of Social Exclusion of Depressed People in Finland

When looking at the relationship between social exclusion and depression, it is firstly important to mention links that have already been identified in earlier research. With this in mind, mental illness as a whole is a rather particular case in social exclusion research because it is both a basis and a result of social exclusion. Thus, the relationship between social exclusion and depression can be described as reciprocal: Depression can lead to social exclusion through a lack of financial resources, low self-esteem, loss of social interactions or stigma connected to the disease (Payne 2013). In turn, poverty and social exclusion can also result in an increased risk of depression (ibid.).


Economy and Poverty

In line with Sen’s definition, the economy with its components is an important factor to consider for the social exclusion of depression in Finland. Finland has also been found to have one of the strongest income gradients in health and low income was found to correlate with depression in the working-age population (Pulkki-Råback et al. 2012). Economic inequalities start to appear already in early adulthood, hence, much earlier than in other Scandinavian countries (Huijts, Eikemo, & Skalická 2010). Also, while poverty in Finland is not likely to be a topic of satisfying basic needs, low income is still associated with adversities in daily life. Hence, statistically, low-income households “perceive more threats in the neighbourhood, have poorer living conditions, feel disconnected from the community and perceive low control at work” (Pulkki-Råback et al. 2012: 331). Regarding exclusion from the labour market, several Finnish studies point to a link between unemployment and mental illness (Liimatainen 2000: 7). In relation, somatic diseases, mental illness, and suicide were found to be more common among the unemployed in Finland (ibid.), showcasing again that unemployment can be both the cause and effect of mental illness. This can be seen in accordance with Sen’s capability deprivation as one form of exclusion can ultimately lead to another.


In addition, another group of social actors could also be found to be economically excluded from paid work: adolescents. According to a birth cohort study of people born in Finland in 1987, adolescents who had received a mental illness diagnosis in the past were often excluded from the labour market as well as from education as young adults (Science Daily 2021; University of Turku 2021). Lastly, the increase in sickness absence due to depression is another factor that connects exclusion from paid work with mental illness in Finland (Blomgren & Perhoniemi 2021).



Yet, the act of being absent from work does not only correspond to economic exclusion, but it also has social implications. Depressed people do not only choose to be absent from work because of their symptoms, but also due to fear of being stigmatised for it (ibid.). Sen even specifically speaks about the freedom to live non impoverished lives as a way of “being able to appear in public without shame” (Sen 2000: 4). Shame is often connected to stigma[1] and stigma is a prominent societal impact factor for depression in Finland. According to a Finnish study, most respondents believed that depressed people are not responsible for their illness, but for their recovery (Aromaa 2011: 7). Thus, many negative traits are attributed to depression and negative consequences are linked with disclosing the diagnosis to others. Here, gender, education and language also play a role as women, people with higher education and those with Swedish as their mother tongue were less likely to hold negative stereotypes (Aromaa 2011; Wahlbeck & Aromaa 2011). In another study, 23% of surveyed Finns said that they would not want to live next door to a mentally ill person and 47% of those who suffer from a mental illness said that they have been stigmatised because of it (Ministry of Social Affairs and Health 2020: 27). In addition, depressed people also reported being afraid of becoming stigmatised in the health care system (Aromaa 2011). Overall, these examples help to show how stigma, as a specific societal and moral factor, can lead to social exclusion. Here, the refusal to engage with depressed people is specifically relevant.



As ever so often when it comes to research, I was left with more questions than answers after finishing my paper. There are still several factors that could/should be looked at when trying to grasp the role of social exclusion in Finland’s discrepancy between happiness and depression. : How are the power structures between the included and the excluded? Who has access to care, who makes that decision and what restrictions are there? How is the situation for non-Finnish speakers, immigrants, or asylum-seekers in Finland (cf. The Nomad Today 2019), youth (cf. Wrede-Jantti 2017) and women in comparison to men (cf. Pulkki-Råback et al. 2012)?


Considering the social exclusion of the depressed within a more group-specific focus would also allow to emphasise as well as assess the multidimensional aspect of social exclusion more. Hence, my paper as well as this blog post only serve as a first glance into the field of tension between social exclusion and depression in Finland – encouraging everyone to contribute to the research.



Aromaa, E. (2011): Attitudes towards people with mental disorders in a general population in

Finland. National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL). Research 69, Helsinki, Finland 2011. Viewed 30 October 2021,

Blomgren, J., & Perhoniemi, R. (2021): Increase in sickness absence due to mental disorders in

Finland: trends by gender, age and diagnostic group in 2005–2019. Scandinavian Journal of Public Health. DOI: 10.1177/1403494821993705.

Freedom House (2021): Countries and Territories. Freedom House. Viewed 28 October 2021,

Huijts T, Eikemo TA, Skalická V. (2010): Income-related health inequalities in the Nordic

countries: examining the role of education, occupational class, and age. Soc Sci Med, vol. 71, pp. 1964–1972.

Levitas R. (2005): Three discourses of social exclusion. In The Inclusive Society?.

Palgrave Macmillan, London. DOI: 10.1057/9780230511552_2.

Liimatainen, M.-R. (2000): Mental Health in the workplace. Situation Analysis Finland.

International Labour Office Geneva. Viewed 30 October 2021,

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Programme for Suicide Prevention 2020-2030. Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Helsinki. Viewed 20 October 2021,

OECD (2021): Education. OECD Better Life Index. Viewed 28 October 2021,

OECD (2020): Finland’s mental health challenge. OECD library. 25 February 2020. Viewed

30 October 2021,

Payne, S. (2013): Mental Health, Poverty and Social Exclusion. Conceptual note no. 9, ESRC

Economic & Social Research Council, University of Bristol. Viewed 30 October 2021,

Pulkki-Råback, L., Ahola, K., Elovainio, M., Kivimäki, M., Hintsanen, M., Isometsä, E.,

Lönnqvist, J., & Virtanen, M. (2012): Socio-economic position and mental disorders in a working-age Finnish population: the health 2000 study. European journal of public health, vol. 22, no. 3, pp. 327–332. DOI: 10.1093/eurpub/ckr127.

Science Daily (2021): Psychiatric disorders in teenage years associated with social exclusion

in later life. Science Daily. 8 October 2021. Viewed 30 October 2021,

Sen, A. (2000): Social Exclusion: Concept, Application, and Scrutiny (Social Development

Papers No. 1). Asian Development Bank. Viewed 30 October 2021,

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Viewed 28 October 2021,

The Nomad Today (2019): 40% of asylum seekers in Finland reported symptoms of depression

and anxiety. The Nomad Today. 18 June 2019. Viewed 30 October 2021,

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Exclusion in Later Life. University of Turku. 08 October 2021. Viewed 30 October 2021,

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a systematic literature review. Psychiatria Fennica, vol. 42, pp. 87-109. Viewed 30 October 2021,

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Review. Viewed 30 October 2021,

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is being done? Norden Nordic Centre for Welfare and Social Issues, Helsinki.


[1] “Stigma is common toward persons with mental health problems and can be defined as a label that sets a person apart from others, links her or him with undesirable characteristics and leads to avoidance by others in society” (Aromaa 2011: 7). It is highly based on societal norms as well as cultural expectation of what is considered “normal” behaviour (ibid.).

The Start of Another Antiracist Reading List

It is September again, meaning a new start to our Monthly Antiracist Reading List. This year we are going to recommend books to our audience with the help of three themes. These themes will assist in categorizing the book and give them more context and help readers understand what specialization, subject or concern the book in question wants to raise. We will recommend three books per theme, equaling to nine recommended books this academic year.


The first theme of this semester will be GENDER EQUALITY. Gender equality highlights different gender inequalities and gives an overview of equity between the genders in different areas of society. Many see gender equality as a binary question, only targeting issues between men and women, however, the issue is much more complex. Within Gender Equality one also must consider race, religion, sexuality, nationality, and class, to mention a few aspects since they all give depth and context to gender-related struggles.



Additionally, gender is not a duality, but gender is rather a fluid concept where people can identify as they desire. Understanding this complexity is also an issue one can discuss from a Gender Equality perspective and something we want to expand on with some of our reading suggestions.


The first book within the theme of Gender Equality is already up! It is Sex and Lies by Leila Slimani, who discusses the taboo of female sexuality in Morocco.