Places of belonging: Rethinking coexistence from oriental barbershops in a Finnish city

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This article discusses how migrant businesses actively contribute to the negotiation of everyday coexistence in a Finnish provincial city. It focuses on oriental barbershops to unpack the interplay between place, power, and social imagination. Against the trope of the ethnic business that reproduces assumptions framing migrant activities in terms of community formation, looking at these salons from the perspective of people’s existential need for emplacement reveals how the dynamics of belonging and marginalization are experienced, navigated, and contested by the barbers of Tampere. While the identity-centredness in the definition of diversity and the social hierarchies implied by the discourses of integration force them to negotiate their presence from the margins, the barbers also compose counter-narratives of coexistence. Grounded in an aspiration for recognition, their stories cast a social imaginary that, without ignoring difference, shifts its emphasis towards an ethics of mutuality, thus unlocking a pathway to challenge essentialization and inequalities.

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2023
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • belonging
  • coexistence
  • diversity
  • Finland
  • migration
  • place-making
  • reciprocity

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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