Kotoutuminen* #1: A good synonym for kotoutuminen is too many times the reinforcement of structural racism

by , under All categories, Enrique Tessieri

Migrant Tales launches a new series called kotoutuminen, or integration. Readers are encouraged to send their personal experiences, comments on integration programs, and policies.

Send your comments and observations to [email protected]


A suitable synonym for kotoutuminen is structural racism. In the process of integrating into Finnish society, newcomers are rarely taught the racism and discrimination they may face and, importantly, how to challenge such social ills.

Here is a good example of how stereotypes and prejudices of Finnish culture are taught to students at some integration classes. Yes, believe it or not, these types of silly cartoons are shown to newcomers to help them understand Finnish culture. Aren’t they learning to understand the cartoonist’s prejudices and stereotypes? The cartoonist is Karolina Korhonen.

In other words, kotoutuminen is another form of reinforcing structural racism and also Finnish exceptionalism. You are taught about how you are expected to adapt but never how to challenge those structures that may relegate you to second-class members of society.

The situation is further muddled that such classes or courses are usually taught by unqualified teachers who lack the tools to question their own prejudices and racism.

*Kotoutiminen is the Finnish term for integration.