Maryan Abdulkarim interviewed by Leena Kela

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You are publicly known as an activist, writer and feminist. How would you define yourself?

I don’t define myself to a category. Work for me is about maintaining financial independence. Activism is reacting to the conditions in which I find myself. The definitions often come from the outside and can be useful at times but personally I don’t need them.


You were born in Somalia and you have lived in Finland since you were a small child. Lately you have been working with a choreographer Sonya Lindfors with a project focusing on  dreaming together of a different future. In past decades Finland has been going through a shift from being very white country to having more diversity. How do you see Finland changing in coming 30 years?

I hope that the change will be towards a society that is truly free. The dreaming practise Sonya and I are working on investigates the ”what then” part of our activism. What happens when there is no more struggle? How does the society be like? How will it feel? What do we do? Who are we if the struggle is no longer a big part of what we do?

Do you have some suggestions on how to decolonize public space? What could each of us do from our own behalf?

I think it’s always good to know the history. The society functions on social norms created by people. How did these come to be? Change is easy and people adapt quite easily to change in the end. So small steps and big visions. We start by naming situations and bringing attention to what is off. Engage, question. Soft strategies for hard situations can be useful.