The youth in Barents have to grow roots and learn to leave

Press release, Finnish Youth Research Network, May 11th, 2016 

Young people in the Barents Region are happy with many aspects of their surroundings. At the same time however, material and structural realities limit their lives in a concrete manner. The youth in the Barents Region have to come to terms with living close to nature and leaving it to live in a completely different environment.

The youth of the Barents Region emphasise the importance of nature and home. Their relation to nature is multifaceted, including traditional livelihoods, human-animal interactions with reindeers, hunting, hiking, jogging, or riding snowmobiles. In these ways nature becomes a meaningful part of everyday life. Additionally, nature is strongly connected to peer activities as it offers opportunities to be outside adult supervision. Through digital media, the youth in the Barents Region are a part of global youth cultures. These results are in contrast with studies of urban young people and youth cultures. This study, I am Fire but my Environment is the Lighter, emphasises when investigating young people from outside of urban centres, the different relationships to the environment cannot be analysed using the denaturalised categories of urban youth cultures.

“The wellbeing and success in life is affected not only by the individual abilities but also by the material conditions, distances and social support given to the young people. Therefore, we need to know more about the youth living outside urban centres. Substantial distances and the policy decisions favouring urban areas mean that the young living outside those centres have to develop capacities that their peers in the cities do not. Young people have fire everywhere, but their environments differ” states researcher Tomi Kiilakoski.

Mobility in the Barents Region is both a possibility and a social imperative.  According to the results of this study, the issue of mobility involves overcoming large geographical distances, facing youth cultural distances, coming to terms with peers leaving, and learning to leave oneself. Furthermore, this study found that young people should be able to face the temporality of their social ties and living in the region. There is a dual task of learning to leave and to be mobile, whilst at the same time learning to understand the value of their surroundings and community.

I am Fire but my Environment is the Lighter is based on analysing the art works of young people living in the Barents Region. The purpose of the study is to provide an insight into how the youth of the Barents Region view their lives and analyse the implications of these experiences for youth policy. The study uses artistic methods to explore the conditions, youth cultures, and daily life situations of the young residents. The study focuses upon three locations in the very north of the Barents Region in Inari, Finland, Alta, Norway, and Murmansk, Russia.

Details of the publication

Tomi Kiilakoski: I am Fire but my Environment is the Lighter. A Study on Locality, Mobility, and Youth Engagement in the Barents Region. Finnish Youth Research Society, Finnish Youth Research Network, publications 179, internet publications 98. ISBN (printed) 978-952-7175-06-4, ISBN (PDF) 978-952-7175-07-1, ISSN (printed) 1799-9219, ISSN (PDF) 1799-9227. 61 pages, 10 euros. 

For further information, please contact the author:

Tomi Kiilakoski, researcher at the Finnish Youth Research Network, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., tel. +358 40 504 6432.

The book launch in organised on Friday, the 13th of May in Inari, Lapland.

The internet publication is available free of charge from our website starting from Friday, the 13th of May, using the following link: www.nuorisotutkimusseura.fi/verkkokauppa/verkkojulkaisut. It is also possible to order a printed copy of the book by emailing our office This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by following this link, starting from Friday: www.nuorisotutkimusseura.fi/verkkokauppa/verkkojulkaisut.