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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 5, 2015

2015 AABS Dissertation Awards Announced

AABS has awarded three grants to support doctoral dissertation research and write-up in any field of Baltic Studies.  Congratulations to the 2015 AABS Dissertation Fellowship recipients! Joseph Sproule, University of Toronto Michael Casper, University of California, Los Angeles Mark Moll, Indiana University...

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Posted on Jan 21, 2015

An Oral History of Second Generation American Estonians

After doing extensive archival research on American Estonians at the Immigration History Research Center and Archives as a University of Minnesota Fulbright scholar, Maarja Merivoo-Parro realized the need to do interviews as well. A 2014 AABS dissertation grant will allow Maarja, a PhD candidate at Tallinn University, to conduct an oral history project with Estonians living in the states of California, Oregon and Washington. My research is focused on the second generation of refugee Estonians in Cold War America. I am interested in the people who had no memories of Estonia proper but were taught everything they knew about the country and its people through formal, informal and non-formal educational activities. Some of these activities were community-based, others relied on relationships within the family, and yet others were more individualized. I chose the Pacific coast because it is an underrepresented region in the context of Estonian diaspora...

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Posted on Dec 8, 2014

Blended Families: Researching Estonian-Russian Intermarriages

Uku Lember received the 2012-13 AABS Dissertation Grant to complete his dissertation, “Silenced Ethnicity: Russian-Estonian Intermarriages in Soviet Estonia (an Oral History).” The AABS Dissertation Grant was crucial to his research — it enabled him to conduct and transcribe the follow-up oral history interviews that form the empirical basis for his work. Uku defended his dissertation at Central European University (Budapest) in Fall 2014. My doctoral dissertation historicizes the tense coexistence of Estonians and Russian-speakers in Estonia. It is based on semi-structured life-story interviews with representatives of families that blended “Estonian local” and “Russian newcomer” backgrounds. My research traces the emergence and existence of two parallel but intermingled linguistically marked societies in Soviet Estonia. My dissertation highlights interactions, exchanges and negotiations in multi-cultural settings in favour of nationally bounded explanations; it seeks to flesh out concrete and diverse individual lives by looking at identifications with culturally available patterns. The work focuses on the period of “late socialism” – the time between Stalinism and perestroika. Uku was the Telluride Association...

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Posted on Nov 19, 2014

Art Patronage of the Tallinn Brotherhood of the Black Heads

Lehti Keelmann, an Art History Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, received a 2014 AABS Dissertation Grant. She is investigating art patronage of the Tallinn Brotherhood of the Black Heads during the 15th and 16th centuries.  Single, and ambitious, these young, wealthy men sought to make their mark. The Brotherhood consisted mostly of sons of town councilors who maintained an active role in the town’s cultural landscape, whether through equestrian processionals or setting up a “Christmas tree” in Tallinn’s town square.  The Brotherhood was deeply ingrained in the social fabric of the town, charged with defending the town as its militia, sponsoring local monasteries and churches as a confraternity, brokering trade as a merchant organization, and ultimately, participating in the business of acquiring luxury articles such as altarpieces. Lehti’s research trip to Tallinn allowed her to finish the principal archival research for her dissertation and to complete essential visual analysis on the two altarpieces co-commissioned by the Brotherhood of the Black Heads. The art commissioned by...

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Posted on Nov 6, 2014

Latvian Emigrant Identity and Ideas that Shape the Latvian State

Iveta Kesane, recipient of the 2014 Grundmanis Postgraduate Fellowship, is completing her PhD in Sociology at Kansas State University.  She is currently conducting field work for her dissertation, carrying out public narrative analysis and interviews with people who emigrated from Latvia in the last two decades, as well as those who have remained in Latvia. For my doctoral studies I study emigration phenomenon from Latvia. In order to understand particular contexts in which emigrants have been articulating their self and identity, my dissertation will look at the state of Latvia itself, the ideas on which it has been rebuilt, how these ideas shaped particular loyalties of the state towards people and various organizations (e.g. national, global/international bodies), and how this has influenced the negotiation (relationship) between the state and its people/citizens. I seek to find out whether discrepancy between meanings which guide the conduct of the state and meanings which guide the conduct of people/citizens has shaped emigration not just as a socio-economic phenomenon but also as a cultural...

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