Current Projects ETIS Project Team Duration

Estonia between East and West: The Paradigm of the Images of "Own", "Other", "Strange", "Enemy" in Estonian Cultures in the 20th Century

This research is centered on the relations and interactions within the triangle Estonia—Russia—Russians in Estonia (with some examples related to Latvians, Germans, etc). The general goal of the project is to explain—on the basis of changes within a paradigm’s framework—the importance of the perseption of other cultures and peoples as a means to preserve the identity and to raise the cultural level of the titular nation. This will be done in historical perspective and on the basis of the biggest national groups. One of the most significant results of the project may become the proof that the system OTHER/STRANGER/ENEMY does not necessarily imply negative content. Different parts of this complex contribute to constructing different forms of national self-identity. Demonstrating this system in action (and from the viewpoints of both sides), makes it possible to realize the situation of a certain historical period. As a result, we see the removal of understanding barriers in the society.


Irina Belobrovtseva
Galina Ponomarjova
Anneli Mihkelev
Aurika Meimre


Translating Memories: The Eastern European Past in the Global Arena

Since the disintegration of the Soviet Union at the end of the 1980s, Eastern Europe has been a hotspot of comparative, and at times competitive, discourses about the past that try to negotiate Eastern European memories in the global framework. The project ask what is at stake in these comparisons in cultural terms. It explores post-Soviet Central and Eastern European attempts to make their local histories of the Second World War and the Socialist regime known globally through aesthetic media of memory – literature, film and art – that circulate globally and bring local experiences to global audiences. It also studies the heated public debates that these works of art have provoked in different national and transnational contexts.
What memorial forms have been used to make Eastern European memories intelligible in the global arena? What is gained and what is lost in this translation? What can the different ways that aesthetic acts of memory are received nationally and transnationally tell us about the frictions between these scales of memory and within the nation itself? How has the globalisation of memory practices reinforced national memory in Eastern Europe?
The project argues that the recently reinforced comparative and competitive political discourses about twentieth-century totalitarianism in Eastern Europe can only be understood by exploring the arts that have developed more productive comparative and translational approaches and can, therefore, help to untangle the most recalcitrant nodes of confrontational political discourses and addressing the ethical and political complexity of remembering war and state terror.
The aesthetic media of memory (literature, film, art, museums) are studied in the contexts of wider memory cultures, including their relationship to the politics of memory of different (trans)national memory cultures in the region. The project aims to offer a comparative and transnational view of Central and Eastern European attempts to negotiate their entangled histories of twentieth-century totalitarianisms within the global framework.


Eneken Laanes


The Making of Livonia: Actors, Institutions and Networks in the Medieval and Early Modern Baltic Sea Region

The main objective of the project is to analyse the establishment of new social, political, religious, cultural and economic institutions in Livonia from the 12th to 17th centuries, their local adaptation and widespread integration into different international networks, as well as the emergence of new actors inside of these institutions. But on a deeper level the goal is more ambitious: to study the foundation of an increasingly complex and heterogeneous society on the medieval Baltic frontier – ‘the making of Livonia’. Methodologically, the project consolidates a new research agenda that combines three rather independently developed fields: historical studies, visual culture studies and material culture studies. Our intent is also to carry out this research on two levels: historical level and mnemohistorical level, on the level of our actual knowledge of the past (medieval and early modern Livonia), and on the level of reception history of the previous representations of this past.


Anu Mänd
Juhan Kreem
Marika Mägi
Erki Russow
Marek Tamm


Moving on? Reconnecting three core intuitions in cultural theory

Many currently popular views within cultural theory and the theory of history postulate a broad shift in disciplinary concerns, suggesting that the challenges facing today’s theorists and practitioners are no longer those of the various "turns" since the 1960s. The proposed project aims to assess whether prominent dismissals of "postmodernism" and "narrativism," for instance, are substantially justified or whether the shift in focus might instead more prosaically reflect practical concerns such as changing fashions or professional demands for innovativeness. The guiding thesis is that much of the current confidence that cultural theory can “move on” from these debates is misplaced and often philosophically uninformed: fundamental questions posed in previous theory debates remain unanswered and it seems premature to dismiss them as irrelevant. The project will (re)present these problems in terms employed by the promoters of "new" agendas in order to draw out more considered answers.


Kalle Pihlainen
Tõnu Viik
Oliver Laas


The political economy of industrial health and safety: a social anthropology perspective

The project asks why industrial accidents and injuries happen and how they are socially produced. It proposes a social anthropology approach to the study of links between Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) and industrial injury in mining. The project draws on political economy perspective assuming that OHS is never neutral but socially and historically constructed in the struggle between capital and labour. It takes a step further by suggesting that the focus should not be only on the labour process but the wider relations and world views of communities and corporations and the political-economy frame should be complemented by the study of everyday practices. New methodologies drawing on medical anthropology and study of trauma will be developed in order to study the sensitive topic. The research will use participant observation, survey and interviewing in a comparative study of two mines in Estonia and Kazakhstan to explore the social production of OHS and injuries.


Eeva Kesküla


A Transnational Setting for Estonian History: Transcultural Entanglements, International Organisations and Transborder Migrations (16th – 21st Centuries)

The main objective of this project is to introduce a transnational setting for Estonian history. We propose an alternative perspective to detach Estonian historiography from its conventional frame, the history of a national project. In using transnational historical phenomena from the 16th-21st centuries as case studies we propose an innovative analytical frame to explore the historical roots of Estonian European identity. We presume that non-national actors, such as religious communities, imperial networks, global organisations and transborder migrants played a crucial role in this context. Methodologically we build on the hypothesis that multi-ethnic empires, especially on their peripheries, are characterised by contact zones characterised by transnational currents and transcultural transfers. We want thus to keep up with international discourses in the field of historiography and to integrate Estonian history writing into the growing international network of transnational history.


Karsten Brüggemann
Magnus Ilmjärv
Aivar Jürgenson
Inna Jürjo
Aivar Põldvee


After the Explosion: Autobiography, Subjectivity and Utterance in Juri Lotman’s Late Works

This project is dedicated to Juri Lotman’s works from 1990-1993, written mostly after his monograph "Culture and Explosion". Lotman’s late works, including his unpublished collection "Scattered pages: A Diary of a Mad Semiotician", are a fusion of autobiography, scholarly study, and theoretical inquiry – a sophisticated interplay between intended subjectivity and the theoretical framework capable of supporting it. This practically unstudied part Lotman’s legacy will be viewed as a form of "auto-ethnography", and will be approached as a part of "autobiographical turn" in cultural studies, with a focus on "questioning the questioning subject", analyzing situated and embodied knowledge, an autobiographical authority, and the determinants of critical theory. The project aims at making Lotman’s late works available to the specialists and general public, and studying in depth the scholar’s late turn to intended subjectivity in the context of resent developments in the humanities.


Tatjana Kuzovkina
Igor Karlovski
Piret Peiker


Cultural change and conflict: a theoretical model

The goal of this project is to develop a model of cultural changes and conflicts, based on the methodology introduced in my book "Meaning in Action: Outline of an Integral Theory of Culture". As a result of globalization, many essentially positive processes such as democratization, decolonization, infotechnological progress etc. have jointly brought about an overflow of information. The institutions meant to handle it, however, are unable to cope with the situation. On the other hand, the growing inequality and insecurity that has been caused by current economic and political developments as well as ecological problems have set in motion large flows of migration and simultaneously inspired an upsurge of xenophobia and nationalism in many parts of the “first world”. These issues cannot be adequately analyzed only in terms of social processes, which is why I intend to develop a model that examines them in the context of the internal dynamics of the cultural field.


Rein Raud


Queer life-world in late Soviet Estonia (1960-80s)

This postdoctoral project aims at filling a large research gap by studying LGBT history of Soviet Union after Stalin (1953-1991) in the Estonian example. The study aims to analyse communicative networks and identification patterns among queer people through extensive oral history research. Queer history of post-Stalinist Soviet Union is generally understudied; contemporary Estonia offers good empirical materials and moderately tolerant academic environment for completing such a task. The project will promote democratization of civic society and offer important and interesting results to wider public. Academically, the study will contribute to better understanding of late soviet individualisation processes and personal identification patterns with large social categories (such as Soviet state, ethnicity, and profession); it will also help to explore methodological issues with applying Western queer theory in the Eastern European context.


Uku Lember


ICZM Plans for Sustaining Coastal and Marine Human-ecological Networks in the Baltic Region

SustainBaltic is targeting to: Four ICZM case plans from Estonia (2) and Finland (2), which are produced based on the current spatial data on ecological, land use and human activities. The novelty approach of SustainBaltic is on the close co-working in order to define the most crucial ICZM planning criteria to be utilised and implemented further in Central Baltic Programme area.




Tarmo Pikner


Storms - Climate Extremes in estonia and their Impact on Society

The project focuses on tempestuous weather and storms that have often been associated with other environmental utterances. Scientists have put forward an opinion that the weather turbulence of the last 150 years has significantly increased (Jaagus et al. 2015). Do written sources provide us with the same information? If so, what strategies have societies implemented in order to prevent potentially negative consequences? The idea of the project is to bind together data provided both by hard and soft science (history and culture) on weather extremes making the results available for use as a supplement for EuroClimHist database kept and updated on a regular basis at the University of Bern.



Ulrike Plath


Virtual Education Experience in an Extended Nordic Context 

Viedex is a project for higher education running for three years, funded by the European Union. The group of project partners consists of teachers and researchers from five universities in Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Iceland.
The main aim with the project is to develop an e-learning module in Business Swedish for higher education in Nordic and Baltic countries which fills a gap in existing language course offerings in these countries. The virtual e-learning module package will be available online for open access and will be adaptable to different forms of education and staff training in companies where Swedish is used as one of the working languages.
Another outcome of the project is a research review on the use and practices of Swedish as business lingua franca in Nordic and Baltic countries. For that an questionnaire will be distributed to the companies in Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Island where Swedish is used as one of the working languages.


Kristiina Tedremaa-Levorato


Land-sea interactions advancing BlueGrowth in Baltic Sea coastal areas 

EU and Baltic Sea Regional (BSR) policies highlight the importance of Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP), BlueGrowth (BG) and sustainable management of coastal areas. BGcan help to tackle development challenges in coastal areas like reduced fishing, depopulation and human impacts on environment.Coastal municipalities and regions in BSR seek for economic diversification and more efficient use of available marine natural and cultural resources. MSPis established as an effective tool to foster integrated planning in marine areas, while coherence with land-based development planning is still recognised as a key challenge and at the same time – precondition for BG. This COHERENCE problem is especially relevant when a new development activity depends on or influences other uses and interests in the sea or on land, thus creating a conflict or limiting growth. Another challenge for authorities is to define characteristics of SPATIAL (local, regional, etc.) scales and TEMPORAL (short, middle, long term) perspectives of the land-sea interactions (LSI) and to propose solutions. While MSP mainly focuses on a large scale and long-term perspectives, LSI are often addressed locallyand on ad hoc basis.
INTEGRATION versus THEMATIC and SECTORAL approaches in planning needs to be enhanced to achieve the objectives of BG. Relationships and interdependencies between marine ecosystems, landscapes, social and cultural values and economic sectors are recognised, however not fully taken into account in the context of LSI.
This project will guide national public bodies (ministries, agencies), coastal regional authorities and local municipalities and multi-sectoral stakeholders to:
*improve transnational cooperation and foster BG and facilitate knowledge exchange to empower less developed regions;
*raise capacity (awareness, knowledge and skills) to enhance BlueGrowth initiatives and integrated development in coastal areas;
*balance development of newsea uses with coastal community interests by improving inter-scalar and cross-sectoral coastal governance in all BSR.
Through demonstration cases on the identified LSI challenges the project partners and involved stakeholders will closely collaborate to explore and recommend newflexible coastal governance practices with main scope on proposing spatial and entrepreneurship tailored solutions to be applicable on each governance level in all BSR countries. We will apply a range of methods with strong focus on participatory and transdisciplinary approaches to tackle the described challenges of local, regional and transnational relevance. Therefore, the coastal planning authorities and developers of BG initiatives in the BSR region will have gained additional knowledge and skills to solve common LSI challenges. The projectwork will culminate with an outcome of new Multi-level Governance Agenda on BlueGrowth and Spatial Planning in BSR beyond 2020. 

TRU19008 Hannes Palang 2019-2021

Public transport as public space in European cities: Narrating, experiencing, contesting

This humanities-focused project conceptualises public transport (PT) as public space: one which confronts citizens with social diversity, speaks of different types of ownership, disciplining and surveillance, subversion, interaction and remaking of social norms. This conceptualisation is articulated through four objectives: (1) to critically conceptualise and analyse what kind of public space PT is; (2) to understand urban transformations—the increasing social diversity and polarisation, liberalisation, privatisation and securitisation—of public space in European cities by attending to PT as one of the most intense and contentious public spaces; (3) to offer a located and historicised perspective on the transformation of public space by examining narratives, experiences and contestations over PT in different European cities; and (4) to contribute to PT-related research, as well as interventions in civic mobilising, planning and policy by a humanities-led analysis and conceptualisation of PT. The project brings researchers from across Europe together with practitioners and enthusiasts, and profits from a strong involvement of Associated Partners. Through this approach the project aims to produce an academic and societal impact: to humanise public transport research and practice.

TRU19017 Tauri Tuvikene 2019-2022

Migration dependency and integration challenges for Estonia, employers, communities and educational system

The general aim of the Project is to develop innovative intervention approaches for migration and integration in Estonia that would contribute to a more cohesive society. More specifically, the Project will: 
a) propose the conceptual foundations for multiculturalism, multiple identities and multiperspective history teaching in Estonia; 
b) design a model of multicultural schools, together with tools and intervention mechanisms for preventing and solving integration related challenges in schools and communities. 

TG4317 (RITA1/01-03-04) Marek Tamm
Allan Puur
Rein Raud
Luule Sakkeus

Visionary, Participatory Planning and Integrated Management for Resilient Cities 

Augmented Urbans (AU) refers to strengthening the integration of three aspects in urban planning: timeframe, participation and technology. It improves stakeholder participation and linkage between the long-term visions and short-term actions in the cities for enhancing urban resilience. For this, new extended reality technologies (XR; including AR, VR & MR) are explored and utilised as tools as they hold great potential for supporting urban planning processes in guiding discussions, and providing immersive scenarios. The CB region obtains high level expertise in these. Cities have identified need for better integrated participatory urban management and bridging their long term visions and objectives into practical urban development actions. In response, the AU provides a cross-border collaboration platform for CB cities addressing integrated urban planning for resilience-building in multiple local contexts, and gathering experience-based knowledge needed to make the region a frontrunner in novel urban development strategies. In AU, planners from different cities are co-developing for better integrated urban management process while working on local plans (engagement of planners and experts visible in the budget). A shared Matrix of indicators for urban resilience is co-developed and new technologies aid in creating a space for interaction between city officials and local actors. On practical level, Local Actions to create urban plans are run in each city with two iterations and supported by a multidisciplinary Advisory Board. The context, objectives and findings of each round are co-defined and shared in inter-regional Planners Forum events. Cities have an opportunity to adopt methods from their peers planning and implementation cases to streamline the response to emerging common challenges. Five integrated urban management plans are developed, aiding the CB to move towards more resilient and sustainable. Gained insights are shared via existing networks.

TRU18030 Helen Sooväli-Sepping

Tauri Tuvikene
Anni Müüripeal


Mobilitas Pluss Postdoctoral Researcher Grant / Economy of symbolic exchange. Gift-giving as a social, cultural and political practice in the late medieval Livonia

Gift-giving is a universal practice that can be found in every culture and in every time period. Yet usages and meanings of gifts given do depend on historical and cultural contexts. Gifts in every society help to create new bonds and to maintain existing relationships that are essential for their functioning. Medieval societies were not an exception; as recent studies have shown, gift-giving was crucial for sustaining of political, social and religious bonds. This project offers an insight in what role gift-giving played in one particular European region – Livonia between 1400 and 1550, showing how the gifts were used to create and sustain political and social relationships, revealing role of gifts in religiosity and charity, and will question whether practices of gift-giving in Livonia differed from other European regions. I will use as sources documents of bishops and Teutonic Order, financial records of city governments, last wills of townspeople, and account books of urban guilds.

MOBJD231 Gustavs Strenga 2018-2020

Landscape approach to rurbanity 

This project seeks to assess enacted and experienced rural-urban differences and coexistences by elaborating landscape approach. This is studied through mobility practices, bordering dynamics and encounters with the past. Practices of mobilities constitute an understanding of the relationship with the world where instead of stasis and stability, mobility and the potential mobility are central. Encounters with the past deals with how third generation urbanites manage the rural heritage, both material and mental, in towns and in the countriside. Finally, landscape approach contributes in analysing interdependences and tensions between rurality and urbanity. The three sub-themes of the project include landscapes of dispersed communities, walking in landscape / landscapes as playground, spatiality of institutional bordering.

PRG398 Hannes Palang 2019-2023