RE:Barents article published in Journal of Borderlands Studies

“It Seemed Like Forever!” Shrinking Spaces of Conviviality at the Border of Norway and Russia

Erika Gubrium,

Aadne Aasland,

Benedikte V. Lindskog,

Erika Arteaga &

Igor Mikheev


“Conviviality” is a useful term for exploring interactions and relationships taking place between different groups of people. While conviviality may arise through everyday processes, rhythms, and senses of belonging, it may also be made possible or limited by social structures, power relations and politics when taking place across borders. “Conviviality” as a theoretical perspective has mainly previously dealt with places within a border, and to a lesser extent has been linked to borders and boundary areas, and especially then in circumpolar areas. We use the concept of “border conviviality,” focusing on the intersection of changing geo-political contexts and changing personal contexts, to develop a theoretical look at “people-to-people” cooperation- and cohabitation through “conviviality” and how these were created, changed, and challenged in Kirkenes, a small town on the border of Norway and Russia, in the months following the Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. We find that such a concept may provide a broader understanding of the dynamic nature of space and place associated with cooperation and “unification.” Additionally, we contend that the way in which “conviviality” is meaningfully linked to “borders” is shaped by how people live, work, and collaborate.

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