front cover of Baltic Facades
Baltic Facades
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since 1945
Aldis Purs
Reaktion Books, 2012

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are often grouped together as the Baltic States, but these three Eastern European countries, tied together historically, are quite different. Although each is struggling to find its place within Europe and fighting to preserve its own identity, the idea of the Baltic States is a façade. In this book, Aldis Purs dispels the myth of a single, coherent Baltic identity, presenting a radical new view of the region.

Baltic Façades illuminates the uniqueness of these three countries and locates them within the larger context of European history, also revealing the similarities they share with the rest of the continent. He also examines the anxiety the people of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania feel about their own identities and how others see them. Giving equal weight to developments in politics, economics, and social and cultural trends, he places contemporary events in a longer perspective than traditional Cold War-inspired views of the region, tracing the countries under Soviet rule after the end of World War II through their declarations of independence in the early 1990s and their admission to the European Union in 2004. Baltic Façades is an enlightening look at these three separate, though related, Eastern European countries.

front cover of Guardians of Living History
Guardians of Living History
An Ethnography of Post-Soviet Memory Making in Estonia
Inge Melchior
Amsterdam University Press, 2020
Guardians of Living History: An Ethnography of Post-Soviet Memory Making in Estonia interrogates how people living in a society with an extremely complicated, violent past, only a short history of independence, and a desire to belong to Europe engage with the past, both within their families and as members of a national community. In line with other scholarship on memory, this book shows that many Estonians desire an established collective story, as they live in a society where their national identity is quite regularly under threat. At the same time however, that same closure is perceived to pose a threat to the survival of Estonian culture and independence. Guardians of Living History provides an intimate insight into the lives of Estonians from the countryside, former deportees, young intellectuals, and memory activists, who all in their own ways act as guardians of a national history: a history which they wish to keep alive, apolitical, and as close to their family stories as possible.

front cover of The Internet of Elsewhere
The Internet of Elsewhere
The Emergent Effects of a Wired World
Farivar, Cyrus
Rutgers University Press, 2011

Through the lens of culture, The Internet of Elsewhere looks at the role of the Internet as a catalyst in transforming communications, politics, and economics. Cyrus Farivar explores the Internet's history and effects in four distinct and, to some, surprising societies—Iran, Estonia, South Korea, and Senegal. He profiles Web pioneers in these countries and, at the same time, surveys the environments in which they each work. After all, contends Farivar, despite California's great success in creating the Internet and spawning companies like Apple and Google, in some areas the United States is still years behind other nations.

Surprised? You won't be for long as Farivar proves there are reasons that:

  • Skype was invented in Estonia—the same country that developed a digital ID system and e-voting;
  • Iran was the first country in the world to arrest a blogger, in 2003;
  • South Korea is the most wired country on the planet, with faster and less expensive broadband than anywhere in the United States;
  • Senegal may be one of sub-Saharan Africa's best chances for greater Internet access.

The Internet of Elsewhere brings forth a new complex and modern understanding of how the Internet spreads globally, with both good and bad effects.


front cover of The Quality of Divided Democracies
The Quality of Divided Democracies
Minority Inclusion, Exclusion, and Representation in the New Europe
Licia Cianetti
University of Michigan Press, 2019
The Quality of Divided Democracies contemplates how democracy works, or fails to work, in ethnoculturally divided societies. It advances a new theoretical approach to assessing quality of democracy in divided societies, and puts it into practice with the focused comparison of two divided democracies—Estonia and Latvia. The book uses rich comparative data to tackle the vital questions of what determines a democracy’s level of inclusiveness and the ways in which minorities can gain access to the policy-making process. It uncovers a “presence–polarization dilemma” for minorities’ inclusion in the democratic process, which has implications for academic debates on minority representation and ethnic politics, as well as practical implications for international and national institutions’ promotion of minority rights.

front cover of Remains of the Soviet Past in Estonia
Remains of the Soviet Past in Estonia
An Anthropology of Forgetting, Repair and Urban Traces
Francisco Martinez
University College London, 2018
What happens to legacies that do not find any continuation? In Estonia, a new generation that does not remember the socialist era and is open to global influences has grown up. As a result, the impact of the Soviet memory in people's conventional values is losing its effective power, allowing for new opportunities for recuperation.

Francisco Martinez brings together a number of sites of interest to explore the vanquishing of the Soviet legacy in Estonia: a street market in Tallinn where concepts such as "market" and "employment" take on distinctly different meanings from their Western use; Linnahall, a multi-purpose venue, whose Soviet heritage now poses difficult questions of how to present the building’s history; Tallinn’s cityscape, where the social, spatial, and temporal coevolution of the city can be viewed and debated; Narva, a city that marks the border between the Russian Federation, NATO, and the European Union and represents a place of continual negotiation; and the new Estonian National Museum in Raadi, an area on the outskirts of Tartu that has avoided promoting a single narrative of the past.

By exploring these places of cultural and historical significance, which all contribute to our understanding of how the new generation in Estonia is not following the expectations and values of its predecessor, the book also demonstrates how we can understand generational change in a material sense.

front cover of The Russian Second Generation in Tallinn and Kohtla-Järve
The Russian Second Generation in Tallinn and Kohtla-Järve
The TIES Study in Estonia
Edited by Raivo Vetik and Jelena Helemäe
Amsterdam University Press, 2011

This important study analyzes the challenges faced by second-generation Russians in post-Soviet Estonia, and, in doing so, explores the interrelationships between ethnicity and social equality. It will be of great value to scholars of immigration, cultural assimilation, ethnicity, and nationalism.


front cover of Sounds Beyond
Sounds Beyond
Arvo Pärt and the 1970s Soviet Underground
Kevin C. Karnes
University of Chicago Press, 2021
Sounds Beyond charts the origins of Arvo Pärt’s most famous music, which was created in dialogue with underground creative circles in the USSR. 

In Sounds Beyond, Kevin C. Karnes studies the interconnected alternative music and art scenes in the USSR during the second half of the 1970s, revealing the audacious origins of some of Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s most famous music. Karnes shows how Pärt’s work was created within a vital yet forgotten culture of collective experimentation, the Soviet underground. 
Mining archives and oral history from across the former USSR, Sounds Beyond carefully situates modes of creative experimentation within their late socialist contexts. In documenting Pärt’s work, Karnes reveals the rich creative culture that thrived covertly in the USSR and the network of figures that made underground performances possible: students, audio engineers, sympathetic administrators, star performers, and aspiring DJs. Sounds Beyond advances a new understanding of Pärt’s music as an expression of the aesthetic and religious commitments shared, nurtured, and celebrated by many in Soviet underground circles. At the same time, this story attests to the lasting power of Pärt’s music. Dislodging the mythology of the solitary creative genius, Karnes shows that Pärt’s work would be impossible without community.

front cover of Strategic Frames
Strategic Frames
Europe, Russia, and Minority Inclusion in Estonia and Latvia
Jennie L. Schulze
University of Pittsburgh Press, 2017
Joseph Rothschild Book Prize Honorable Mention
Strategic Frames analyzes minority policies in Estonia and Latvia following their independence from the Soviet Union. It weighs the powerful influence of both Europe and Russia on their policy choices, and how this intersected with the costs and benefits of policy changes for the politicians in each state.
Prior to EU accession, policymakers were slow to adopt minority-friendly policies for ethnic Russians despite mandates from the European Union. These initiatives faced majority opposition, and politicians sought to maintain the status quo and their positions. As Jennie L. Schulze reveals, despite the credit given to the democratizing influence of European institutions, they have rarely produced significant policy changes alone, and then only when domestic constraints were low. Whenever domestic opposition was high, Russian frames were crucial for the passage of reforms. In these cases, Russia’s activism on behalf of Russian speakers reinforced European frames, providing powerful justifications for reform.
Schulze’s attention to both the strategic framing and counter framing of external actors explains the controversies, delays, and suboptimal outcomes surrounding the passage of “conditional” amendments in both cases, as well as the local political climate postaccession.
Strategic Frames offers a significant reference on recent developments in two former Soviet states and the rapidly evolving spheres of political influence in the postindependence era that will serve students, scholars, and policymakers alike.

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