Grants and residencies

Research and art

Dr. Kilinc Nilay

113100 €

Narrating and Performing the Art of Becoming Citizens: Creative Migrants’ Democratic Participation in Finland


This research project aims to explore and unpack the nexus between acts of citizenship and democratic participation with a particular focus on "creative migrants" in Finland. The research project’s main question is, what are the ways in which creative migrants claim, perform and challenge citizenship thorough artistic creation? The research adopts qualitative methods and analyses, a) in-depth life-story narrative interviews with 20 creative migrants, b) participatory observation of creative migrants' processes in personal and collective spaces, c) 5 selected creative works (e.g. visual and literary art) of the participants, d) 10 semi-structured interviews with executives and experts in creative industries in Finland. Through adopting an auto-ethnographic approach to migrant lives, the research findings aim to uncover the ways in which creative and artistic personal narratives confront the grand narratives on citizenship, multiculturalism, equality and democracy in the Finnish context. The research project's premise is that creative migrants are able to translate the abstract concepts of citizenship and democratic participation into artistic and cultural terms grounded in everyday life, however the processes of recognition, acceptance and inclusion from the dominant Others in creative industries and spaces are rather slow and arduous. In addition, creative migrants often deal with "messy multiculturalism" whereas they are supposed to base their artistic and creative work on their ethnic, national and/or religious identities. Creative migrants' experiences with and in the creative industries in Finland offer a fruitful discussion on the scope and limits of freedom of expression, citizenship and democracy.