GATE-project examines Finnish deportation policy in its historical and transnational context.

Deportations and other forms of forced removals of non-citizens are at record numbers in Finland and other countries of the Global North. However, little is known about deportations as a long-term social phenomenon.

In the project Gatekeeping the Nation: Deportation at Finnish Borderscapes from the Cold War to Europeanisation (GATE), we ask why and how deportations became a central tool of European migration policy after the Cold War. We address this question by conducting the first long-term analysis of Finnish deportation policy from the 1970s to the present day. We examine deportations as historically changing sites of 'gatekeeping' mechanism through which the normative boundaries of the nation-state are defined.

We make use of previously unused archival sources and official documents. We will also interview deportees and deportable migrants, various gatekeeping authorities, and other actors involved in deportations.

Through the interviews and official sources, we analyse the changing practices, legislation and actors involved in deportations, as well as the agency, experiences and 'everyday tactics' of the migrants who are subjected to them.

In the four work packages of the project, we aim to answer the following questions:

  • What are the legal and conceptual turning points in Finnish deportation policy from the 1970s onwards?
  • How have deportation practices, actors and outcomes changed?
  • How have foreign policy agendas and Europeanisation shaped Finnish deportation policy?
  • How do people under threat of deportation act to survive and resist deportation?

The project creates a quantitative time series on deportations. It will deepen our understanding of the transnational and foreign policy dimensions of deportations, and provide new insights into an area of state power that involves a variety of ambiguities and silences.

GATE is funded by the Research Council of Finland from 2022 to 2026. The project will be implemented at the Centre for European Studies at the University of Helsinki as part of the multidisciplinary Centre of Excellence in Law, Identity and the European Narratives (EuroStorie).