On 20 of January, I defended my PhD Theses: Being Along but Excluded – an Ethnographic Study of supervised group exercise with foreign-born women. My task was to increase the understanding regarding factors that arise when local sports culture and being foreign-born come together. So, I wanted to know: what kinds of diversity and/or experiences of otherness manifest themselves in supervised group exercise among foreign-born women? What meanings do foreign-born women and the instructors associate with exercise and how are these meanings intertwined? And what kinds of social positions are born at the intersection of being foreign-born and physical education? I gathered the material for this study through field work with public sports services’ exercise groups between 2017 and 2021. I understood that the culture of a person’s home country does not define their everyday life in a new country when it comes to physical exercise. Instead, the exercise options on offer and experiences regarding them act as the deciding factors. Foreign-born women link physical exercise with common situations where background has no bearing as well as specific significance that stem from experiences regarding a sense of otherness.
The day of defending the thesis was long and exhausting. Conversation with the opponent lasted two hours. Our Finnish Eniec members, Susanna and Hanna, gave valuable support throughout the day. Our work in Eniec with the old people has taught me a way to argue and justify my views. These skills and experiences were helpful.
Written by ENIEC member Eva Rönkkö