University of Oulu

Living the Finnish Arctic : teachers’ stories of negotiating their cultural identities

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Author: Jokela, Emily1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.8 MB)
Pages: 69
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : E. Jokela, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-12-15
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Jokikokko, Katri
Reviewer: Paradis, Audrey
Jokikokko, Katri


This thesis centres around the narratives of five teachers who identify as being from Southern Finland but have lived in the Finnish Arctic for three or more years. Through their narratives, the teachers described their changing cultural identities whilst living in the Arctic and described a range of intercultural experiences that influenced them. The interviews were open to all aspects of the teachers’ lives, rather than purely their professional lives. From this a more nuanced understanding of their experiences was obtained.

Cultural identity was the clear theme that became prominent through both the thematic and narrative analysis. From this a deeper understanding of cultural identities, through looking at the multiple layers of context that influence their development, was obtained. To support these findings the Theoretical Framework centred around cultural identities from a social constructivism point of view. A modified version of Bronfenbrenner’s bio-ecological model was utilised to demonstrate the interaction between context, influences, and identity development.

The main findings were divided into the three themes of Negotiating Arctic Identity, Attached to the Arctic, and Interacting in the Arctic. Negotiating Arctic Identity examined how participants viewed the Arctic with themes of otherness being present. Participants also reflected upon their own identity and how it is reflected in the place that they live. Attached to the Arctic explored how participants were pulled towards the Arctic despite a contrary migration trend and how they became connected to their respective communities. Interacting in the Arctic explored the intercultural experiences that participants outlined, both challenging and empowering. Integrated in these findings are longer stories from each participant to allow their voices to be heard with less intrusion from the researcher.

These findings provide an understanding of where universities can alter teaching courses to ensure that teaching is culturally relevant and how teachers can be more successfully recruited and retained to teach in the Arctic.

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Copyright information: © Emily Jokela, 2021. Except otherwise noted, the reuse of this document is authorised under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC-BY 4.0) licence ( This means that reuse is allowed provided appropriate credit is given and any changes are indicated. For any use or reproduction of elements that are not owned by the author(s), permission may need to be directly from the respective right holders.