Tallinn University professor of Comparative Literature Eneken Laanes is the Project Leader of the European Research Council project „Translating Memories: The Eastern European Past in the Global Arena“. Her research deals with transnational memory and transcultural memorial forms in post-Soviet memory cultures of Eastern Europe. This new series of Q&A features The European Studies Council’s international academic collaborators and institutional partners, investigating their research and other institutional priorities during the pandemic.
In the Q&A, Eneken Laanes described how Tallinn University has focused on offering scientific support for dealing with the challenges associated with education and digital methods of instruction and communication. At the School of Educational Sciences, researchers are rapidly assessing the experience of teachers and parents at pre-school childcare institutions in coping with emergency situations. Another project studies the experiences of Estonian general education schools in distance learning and maps the challenges, good practices, and development needs that different parties experience in the process. The results of the study will provide an overview of the factors that influence the distance learning experience at schools, at class and student levels, providing input for planning further study management, as well as the development and use of digital solutions and learning resources.
These initiatives have been supported by a project at the School of Digital Technologies that also maps the experiences of distance learning and its impact on the Estonian education system from the perspective of digital technologies. Estonia has been at the forefront of the application of digital technologies in instruction, but the ongoing pandemic has brought new and unpredicted challenges for both teachers and families.
Right after the beginning of the lockdown in Estonia, a psychologist at Tallinn University started a project to assess the mental health and well-being of residents during and after the state of emergency. The social scientists, for their part, are contributing to a Europe-wide study of how communities have used social media to raise awareness and resolve social problems in the context of the lockdown.
In the School of Humanities, where Eneken Laanes herself is based, the human geographers have put together an interdisciplinary research group, “Cities, Work, and Digital Platforms,” to explore the effects of the pandemic on digital labor platforms in Tallinn. Given that the pandemic is largely an environmental problem, research in ecocriticism and environmental humanities has also gained momentum. The gender implications and the ways in which the pandemic-induced lockdown affects vulnerable groups are also being discussed.
Although traveling has been largely banned some of Laanes’ colleagues have noted that due to reduced travel and academic commitments, they have had more time to focus on writing and publishing projects.
Eneken Laanes is currently leading a European Research Council grant project “Translating Memories: The Eastern European Past,” that explores the cultural memory of WWII and the socialist regimes in Central and Eastern European literature and film. The team had to go online with some of the events and postpone those where they felt an in-person gathering was essential. Instead of events, they focused on writing and collaborative publication projects that are not strongly affected by the restrictions created by the coronavirus. Some of the members had planned fieldwork at different memorial sites and museums in Russia and Ukraine, as well as research stays at the libraries in various Central Eastern European countries. These plans have been cut short by coronavirus and postponed indefinitely because they do not know how the situation is going to play out in different countries even when the vaccine is available.
On the Ground Perspectives: Q&A with Professor Eneken Laanes can be read here.