I recently discovered a curious habit I have. Whenever people ask me where I’m from I automatically reply “Tallinn” without much thought or consideration.

Sometimes people conclude that I must therefore be from Finland. Somewhat less reasonably, some conclude I’m from Thailand. One of the professors that runs the anthropology of science course, upon hearing that I’m from Tallinn, started talking to me in Finnish, presumably wanting to practice his language skills. I didn’t bother correcting him as I too wanted to practice my Finnish.

I reckon I must’ve developed a narrowly defined regional identity, rather than a national identity. Or perhaps I’ve been studying anthropology for so long that Andersonian views on constructed ideas of nationhood and nationalism have firmly established themselves within my subconscious. Certainly, Benedict Anderson’s view on nation states as “imagined communities” is for me personally one of the more interesting theoretical approaches on the subject. To reflect a bit, I certainly do not feel a connection to Estonians, extended kin and friends notwithstanding, living in regions outside of the capital city. To follow up on this thought, I don’t really feel connected to the ambiguous category of “Tallinners” either, outside the parties I interact with on a day-to-day basis.

Certainly, social scientists following Anderson advocate for the very same logic, the difference being the focus on individuals, representatives of “nationalities” who carry and foster these constructed ideas of unity.

Of course, this blog is not about anthropology and to go deeper into social theory concerning nations and nationalities would only serve to confuse or even anger the people uninitiated into the discourse. Anthropology, you see, can’t often afford to be public.

The reason why I brought the topic up in the first place was that today we discussed the life in Copenhagen with a few friends. One American girl said how she doesn’t even want to think about going back and we were both relieved to find out we weren’t the only ones who feel that way. I think she put it best when she said: “I’m already homesick for Copenhagen.

Can you be homesick for a city you haven’t left yet, without even being homesick for, uh… “home”? Or is “home” even something you can point to on a map or surround with walls , or is it something more permeable?


Note: The questions posed here are somewhat rhetorical. For one interesting insight on how “homes” can be constructed see Magdalena Nowicka’s 2007 paper “Mobile Locations: construction of home in a group of mobile transnational professionals.”