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Posted on Sep 7, 2015

Chris Shabow | Beginning Estonian BALSSI 2015

I am not of Baltic descent, but I discovered an interest in Estonian history and a passion for its culture while in grad school. When I discovered the BALSSI program, I decided to take a chance with the language. I looked forward with eager anticipation to the start of the classes. The first week passed by in a blur as I emerged into the mysterious world of the Estonian language. Every moment was focused on absorbing a deluge of information and attempting to remember what we learned in the weeks before. As I struggled to master Estonian vocabulary and grammar, Liina-Ly proved to be the most patient and compassionate instructor. After classes ended, I was reading an article on Estonia’s Song Festival tradition. Midway through, I noticed I wasn’t stumbling over the Estonian words peppered throughout, and I smiled. This summer is only the beginning of what will be a long and fulfilling...

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Posted on Jun 18, 2015

Socialist Ideas & Estonian Intellectuals in Late 19th c.

Mark Moll, a Central Eurasian Studies Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University, received a 2015 AABS Dissertation Grant to investigate the spread of socialist ideas among the Estonian intelligentsia in the late 19th century. Centered in the university town of Tartu, several members of the radical underground, like Jüri Jaakson, Mihkel Martna and August Rei, went on to achieve prominent positions within the interwar Estonian Republic. The grant will finance a research trip to the Estonian Historical Archives and the manuscript collection of the Estonian Literary Museum in Tartu. My research focuses on the men and women in turn-of-the-century Estonia whose radical experiences as first as students, then as journalists, led to the push for Estonian political autonomy via a syncretic fusion of nationalism and socialism in 1905 during the first Russian Revolution. An analysis of the network of these activists reveals the importance that developments abroad played in shaping the discourse at home and helps contextualize the role of Estonians within the larger Russian revolutionary...

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Posted on Jun 7, 2015

Daunis Auers on Political History of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

A new book by Daunis Auers, former AABS board member, “provides an accessible, comprehensive and balanced comparative analysis of the political development and reinvention of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania since seizing independence from a disintegrating Soviet Union in August 1991.” Comparative Politics and Government of the Baltic States: Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the 21st century explores the political history of the three countries with a focus on constitutional and institutional choices of the 1990s as the three countries re-established...

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Posted on May 17, 2015

Mercenaries, Economy, and Society in the Late 16th c Baltic

Joseph Sproule is a History Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto, where his research focuses on the early modern Baltic. He is the recipient of a 2015 AABS Dissertation grant, which will support travel this summer to Tallinn and Stockholm. Joseph will conduct archival research at the Tallinn City Archives and the National Archives of Sweden, each of which holds rich collections of original documents of value to his project, such as correspondences, soldiers’ contracts, and military payment lists. We asked Joseph to tell us about his project. My dissertation explores the role of mercenaries in the late sixteenth-century eastern Baltic, particularly the hiring, pay, and regulation of these soldiers in Tallinn/Reval during the Livonian War of 1558-1583. The mercenary’s value lay in his capacity for violence, but harnessing and directing that violence was often a challenge for early modern authorities beset by powerful enemies and struggling to meet the crippling costs of prolonged conflicts. My archival research provides a window into the fractious relationships between the Livonian...

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Posted on May 12, 2015

Imagining a Baltic-Nordic World: A Biography of Aleksander Kesküla

Mart Kuldkepp, Tartu University, is the 2015 recipient of the AABS Emerging Scholar Award. His project is a biography of the Estonian politician Aleksander Kesküla. In Estonia, Kesküla is notorious as one of the most radical leaders of the 1905 revolution, but internationally he is primarily known for being the first to bring Lenin to the attention of the German General Staff in 1914 and for mediating as a German agent between the Germans and the Bolsheviks in their joint attempt at “revolutionizing” Russia. At the same time, Kesküla was also trying to fulfill his own Baltic-Nordic political aims which included drawing Sweden into the First World War on the German side and having it liberate Finland and Estonia from Russia. He imagined that, after the war, Sweden and the other Scandinavian states, Finland and Estonia, would establish a Nordic Union with King of Sweden as its head. Mart explains how the Emerging Scholar award will support this project: As documents concerning Kesküla’s activities during World War I are...

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