‘Divided and validated’? The institutionalization of the Russo-Swedish border region in the 1743 peace treaty

  • Jenni Merovuo Department of Geographical and Historical Studies, University of Eastern Finland
Keywords: border studies, borderland, re-bordering, institutionalization of regions, Sweden, Russia, state building


In this article, I analyse the institutionalization of the border region between Sweden and Imperial Russia presented in the peace treaty signed in Åbo (now Turku) in 1743. The Russo-Swedish war of 1741–1743 was disastrous for Sweden. Instead of regaining the losses suffered on the eastern front in the previous war (1700–1721), Sweden ceded more territory to Russia shifting the state border westwards again. The new border located in the middle of the present-day eastern Finnish countryside followed no religious or linguistic divisions. The peace treaty was a top-down measure. However, one must recognise that regions were institutionalised in several parallel and interactive processes. I apply the approach of institutionalization of regions to categorise the peace treaty according to the four dimensions of the approach. The aim is to untangle the official re-establishment of the new regional order to indicate the room for the local influencing. I conclude that the peace treaty did not extensively define the shape of the border region, which led to challenges in reshaping and further developing the border region in the local practices. Classifying the region building process according to the dimensions of the regional institutionalization – though intertwined in practice – provide comparativeness for the local progressions foregrounding their distinctive and consistent characteristics.