“The Identity perception of Kaliningrad Citizens: Influence of the Border on Perceptions of Identity, Belonging and In-/Exclusion in a Russian Enclave within European Union Territory”

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In this research, Kaliningrad has been used as a laboratory to find out how broad and possible essentialist notions of identity of a region and its inhabitants play out in real life. Essentialist notions of the identity of a territorial space and its inhabitants, often portrayed in discourse and mass-media, could lead to a view that does not do justice to the nuances, subtleties and variety of identification. Taking into account the geographical location of Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave surrounded by European Union territory, this part of Russia has been used as a case-study to further question concepts of identity and perceptions of the Other, Russianness/Europeanness and belonging. In order to properly grasp the complex character of identity, the concept of Thirdspace has been used as main analytical tool, providing binary transcending components and leaving room that is necessary for intractability’s and subliminalities that are inherent to the complexity of identity. Looking at Kaliningrad through a Thirdspace perspective made it possible to a provide a view of Kaliningrad(ers') identity that moves away from notions of Russianness vs. Europeanness, history vs. presence and real vs. imagined. Instead, it underlined the possibility of experiencing both instead of either, also instead of or. Keywords: Kaliningrad, Thirdspace, Identity, in-betweenness
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