My dissertation explores transatlantic migration in the context of international marriages in the 20th century, using marriages between Finns and Americans in Finland and the U.S. as a case study. First, I document and explain changes in migration and marriage patterns between Finland and the U.S. over the course of the 20th century. My research shows that among Finns in the U.S. and Americans in Finland, international marriages have become extremely common. In both migrant populations marriage and migration are often inextricably intertwined: the main explanation for the high number of international marriages can be found in the mobile lifestyles of students, professionals, and young people traveling. Second, I challenge "methodological individualism" (the idea that elite migrants are professionals who are not bound by familial relationships) by revealing the important role that family plays in migration decisions of elite migrants. I examine how elite migrants negotiate their identities and transnational family life in international marriages. My research shows that during important life-changes, transnational engagements often intensify. Simultaneously, these significant events may make the migrant feel more attached to the host country. Thus, I found that a migrant's simultaneous engagement in the country of origin and the country of residence highlights the weakness of treating integration and transnationalism as if they were dichotomous categories. My study also challenges the traditional idea of migration as a unidirectional movement initiated by a single motive. I show that in reality, multiple motives and multidirectional movements are often involved. Finally, I explore how elite migrants have been incorporated into immigration discourses in Finland and the U.S. Finland is often seen an exceptionally homogeneous nation with no experience in dealing with immigration. Meanwhile, the U.S. portrays itself as a "nation of immigrants." I found that the differing discourses surrounding immigration and the distinctive meanings attached to the term "immigrant" in the two countries were crucial determinants of the way Finns and Americans understood their place in the receiving nation. My research also challenges the assumption that elite migrants automatically enjoy an "elite status" and can choose the extent to which they integrate in the receiving society.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. January 2011. Major: History. Advisors: Donna Gabaccia and Erika Lee. 1 computer file (PDF); xi, 306 pages, appendices 1-4.
Leinonen, Johanna Katariina.
Elite migration, transnational families, and the Nation State: international marriages between Finns and Americans across the Atlantic in the twentieth century..
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