Discussion “Entangling Estonian and (Baltic) German Histories” on 30th of June

The Estonian Embassy in Berlin has the honour to invite You to a Discussion “Entangling Estonian and (Baltic) German Histories” on 30th of June at 12 pm (CET) in the Estonian Embassy (Hildebrandstrasse 5, 10785 Berlin). This is the concluding session of the lecture series A Century of Diplomatic Relations in a Cultural History Perspective.

The Discussion will be held by Ulrike Plath and Linda Kaljundi in English. Welcoming words by Björn Piibur, Deputy Head of Estonian Embassy in Berlin.

As previously, the talk can be followed also via Zoom App or Web browser. To receive a Zoom link or to confirm Your attendance at the Embassy, please register by sending an e-mail to Embassy.Berlin@mfa.ee by 29th of June latest. The discussion will be recorded.

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The recent decades have witnessed expanding research and vivid debates on the entanglements between Estonian and (Baltic) German history. Scholars and other authors who have opened new perspectives for exploring these connections, however, have mostly focused on literary and cultural history, as well as the history of ideas, history writing and memory.

In our talk, we will explore the perspectives of an entangled history of Estonian and (Baltic) German everyday life, material culture, and last but not the least the environment. We argue that exploring these fields from a transnational and transcultural perspective reveals new, inspiring and often unexpectedly close links between the seemingly remote and contradictory traditions. For example, how have the Baltic German folklore, or healing practices been influenced by Estonian folk traditions (and vice versa), or how has the design of Estonian farmhouses been shaped by the examples coming from the Baltic German manors? How did plants travel between these two communities and why does it tell us about the history of this region? And what are the chances of tracing a more transnational history of nature conservation of the region?

This new approach differs sharply from the previous methodologically nationalist tradition that emphasised the conflicts and gaps between the two communities, and looked for authenticity instead of influences. In our talk, we will be looking at the ways in which developing a more entangled Baltic history can reshape our understanding of the region’s past and its multicultural heritage today.

What are the best examples of the new entangled history writing – but also what are its major challenges and gaps? How do the academic and popular discourses influence each other, and what are their potential socio-political implications?

What could exploring a more transnational history mean for the different communities in Estonia and abroad? What meaning does it hold for the Baltic Germans who were forced to emigrate in 1939, and how – and if at all – do the entanglements between the Estonians and Baltic Germans resonate for the German audiences?

Ulrike Plath is a Professor for Baltic German Studies and Environmental History at Tallinn University and a senior researcher at the Under-and-Tuglas Literature Centre at the Estonian Academy of Sciences. In her work Ulrike is linking literature and cultural approaches with environmental history and interdisciplinary environmental humanities. She has been working on Baltic food, plant, animal and climate history in the 17th-19th centuries. She has served in leading positions at the European Society for Environmental History and is a founding-member of the Estonian Centre for Environmental History (KAJAK) which she was leading as a director from 2011-2018 and again since 2021. She has been leading several research projects on food history (2012-2015), climate history (2017-2020) and Estonian Environmentalism (2020-2024), bringing together Baltic German and Estonian/Latvian perspectives. In teaching, she has been leading several interdisciplinary applied projects on Baltic German food history.

Linda Kaljundi is a Professor of Cultural History at the Estonian Academy of Arts and a Senior Research Fellow at Tallinn University. She holds a PhD from the University of Helsinki. Specialising on Baltic history, historiography and cultural memory, as well as environmental history, she is first and foremost interested in finding new, entangled perspectives on the region’s transnational history, culture and environment. Kaljundi has published and edited collections on Baltic and Nordic history and history writing, heritage, historical fiction and images. Next to her academic work, she has also co-curated several exhibitions at the Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn, with a focus on the connections between visual culture and the multicultural history and identity of the Baltic region. She has also often collaborated with Ulrike Plath in different projects ranging from joint articles and teaching to more experimental formats.