The purpose of this research is to critically analyze cultural tourism in Viena Karelia, Russia. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the border between Finland and Russia became open and cultural tourism started to flourish. Tours are made in small groups and majority of the tourists are Finnish (and not Swedish) speaking Finns. Since the publication of the national epic Kalevala by Lonnrot in 1835 and 1849, Viena Karelia, where original poems had been collected from Karelian (or virtually Finnish) speaking people, has established itself as the cradle of the Finnish culture. This was critical in creating the modern Finnish nation-state which is free from both Swedish and Russian elements. While the creation of the national epic contains a number of contradictions and problems, the present-day cultural tourism and nostalgia further complicates the matter.
Since the grant was given in the winter 2001, I could not conduct an oversea research in the summer 2001 as I have originally plan
ned. Instead I concentrated on library research as well as an acquisition of literature and information in the year 2001.
In 2002, I participated in cultural tourism twice in July and August. I interviewed Ms P and Ms K in Viena Karelia, among others who have in recent years obtained much media attention in Finland. Other people who were interviewed include cultural tourists, Mr. Nieminen at Juminkeko Cultural Center which organizes tours, journalist Ms. Myllykangas, Dr. Stark in Helsinki University, board members of Kalevala Society.
I obtained much insights into 1. what are the present situations of Karelian villages and of ongoing revitalization projects, 2. how cultural tourism, which favors the Karelians only in multi-ethnic setting, is affecting the local communities as well as human relations, 3. how to understand cultural and historical ownership, 4. how to do with the dominant modernist framework of cultural extinction and preservation. I also benefited from a library research at the Finnish Literary Society. Less