The Search for a Socialist El Dorado cover
The Search for a Socialist El Dorado
Finnish Immigration to Soviet Karelia from the United States and Canada in the 1930s
In the 1930s, thousands of Finns emigrated from their communities in the United States and Canada to Soviet Karelia, a region in the Soviet Union where Finnish Communist émigrés were building a society to implement their ideals of socialist Finland. To their new socialist home, these immigrants brought critically needed skills, tools, machines, and money. Educated and skilled, American and Canadian Finns were regarded by Soviet authorities as agents of revolutionary transformations who would not only modernize the economy of Soviet Karelia, but also enlighten its society. North American immigrants, indeed, became active participants of socialist colonization of what Bolshevik leaders perceived as dark, uneducated and backward Soviet ethnic periphery. The Search for a Socialist El Dorado is the first comprehensive account in English of this fascinating story. Using a vast body of documentary sources from archives in Petrozavodsk and Moscow, Russian- and Finnish-language press and literature from the 1930s, oral history interviews and secondary literature, Alexey Golubev and Irina Takala explore in depth the “Karelian fever” among Finnish Americans and Canadians, and the lives of immigrants in the Soviet Union, their contribution to Soviet economy and culture, and their fates in the Great Terror.
Publication Date: April 1st, 2014
274 pages| 7 in x 10 in
Early Praise

"The authors’ command of their subject matter is masterly, their approach combines both breadth of view and depth of detail. The book is unpretentious in tone, but impresses by the weight of sheer facts. This insightful book can be recommended for everyone, who wishes to understand the world of the 1930s, with its illusions and its harsh realities. The story is unique, well researched and well-written."
Timo Vihavainen, Professor of Russian Studies, University of Helsinki
"Meticulously researched and elegantly written, this volume offers powerful and moving insights into not only the causes and course of the immigration, but into the experiences of the migrants and the tragic fate that awaited many of them during the Stalinist repressions. With this superb book, Golubev and Takala confirm their reputation as two of the best Russian historians writing today. The Search for Socialist El Dorado will be the standard work on this subject for many years to come, and will appeal to readers interested in the history of the Soviet Union, of modern Finland, and of diasporic communities in the United States, as well as anyone concerned to understand the historical meanings and importance of migration, ethnicity, identity, political belief, space and place."
Nick Baron, University of Nottingham, author of Soviet Karelia. Politics, Planning and Terror in Stalin's Russia, 1920-1939

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