A Finnish socialist female parliamentarian stopped on the Dutch border | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 133, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163



This research article in transnational history analyses an incident during which Hilja Pärssinen, a Finnish socialist woman MP, was stopped on the Dutch border in September 1913 on her way to visit a suffragette college in London. This two-hour event at the border and public controversy that followed were clashes between competing ideological and gendered discourses on women’s political agency. The incident was a nexus of intersecting discourses on a range of issues: Dutch and international debates on women’s suffrage, discourse on ‘white slavery’, racial prejudices towards East Europeans, Marxist class struggle discourse, and fears of socialism. During the incident, the authorities seemed to be casting the identity of an illegal immigrant or a Russian prostitute on Pärssinen. Provoked against her psycho-physical experiences, she protested by performing that identity. Afterwards, transnationally connected socialists politicized the case in their fight for women’s political rights, while the authorities and the non-socialist press consistently depoliticized it.


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