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Identity, Integration and Estonia

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Identity, Integration and Estonia

  1. 1. Identity, Integration and Estonia David Edwards University of Glasgow
  2. 2. Introduction Identity, and the way we understand ourselves, affects the society that we build and create, whether that is as part of a minority or majority population. When we consider Brubaker’s classic triadic nexus, identity underpins every one of the actors, and their relationship with each other. It impacts integration by dictating the mode and outcomes of integration attempts in each part of the equation.
  3. 3. Introduction to Theory of Identity Alexander Wendt (1999) Social Theory of International Politics “A property of intentional actors that generates motivational and behavioural dispositions” Internally constructed descriptive process referring to the Self, existing independently of external perceptions – Subjective Identity Directly informs the roles that the Self assumes in relation to external actors – Intersubjective Identity Benedict Anderson (2006) Imagined Communities Constructivist approach in which communities are bounded, delineated and reified institutionally and culturally, then rationalised afterwards Iver Neumann (1999) Uses of the Other: The East in European Identity Formation “Analyses of self/other nexuses hold out the promise of a better understanding of who the actors are, how they were constituted, how they maintain themselves, and under which pre-conditions they may thrive”
  4. 4. Theoretical Framework An Interpretivist approach to National Identity, measured on a Social Level and defined Externally using Kinship to bridge the gap between “Self” and “Other” Collective Identities: “…incorporating the Other into the Self in order to merge them into a single identity” (Wendt 1999) “What worldwide communities do [states] imagine themselves part of?” (O’Tuathail, 2006) Ideas of the Self constituted on the social level inform and constrain elite-level discourse within the bounds of plausibility
  5. 5. Methodology Directly informed by the Interpretivist epistemology Creating an analytical framework based on objectively extant factors can privilege some factors which are internally unimportant By interviewing and analysing the spontaneous responses, only those factors most salient are emphasised Nationally, but non-demographically targeted one-to-one interviews involving a stimulus exercise. The stimulus exercise involves participants sorting countries into groups, regions and families of countries Relies on the supposition that Geography does not exist objectively; rather, there is only subjective, or “Imagined Geography” Knowledge of national and regional identity is innate and difficult to discuss “cold”; the purpose of the exercise is therefore also to encourage discussion The regions are then rationalised, and the discussion turns to the target country: Why is it placed where it is? What does it share in common with these countries? Why is it not placed with other countries in its neighbourhood? How are they different?
  6. 6. Baltic States Nordic-Baltic Institutional Engagement “Eastern Europe” “Europe but not quite” “Northern Europe” European Union Eurozone Fenno- Ugria Post- Soviet NATO
  7. 7. Results: Geopolitically Small and vulnerable, along with Baltic States “These are the Baltic Republics. They are a bit in a no-man’s land because they are not quite Northern countries yet and they are definitely not Russian any more.” - L “I think that [the Baltics] even should work more together because separately we are nobody but together there is already something” - L, contextualised with a news story in which Mikheil Saakashvili claimed to have spoken to Vladimir Putin in 2008 and confirmed that the Baltic States would be invaded next, 21/07/2015 http://www.baltictimes.com/ex- georgian_president_mikhail_saakashvili___there_is_no_way_the_kre mlin_will_not_go_to_the_baltics_next_/ )
  8. 8. Results: Ethnically Distinct, inheritors of a unique heritage – Myth of national origins “We have some genetic material. I read that actually the people who came from the Ural mountains, they came to Estonia first and then moved north to Finland, and so I think that Finland are our descendents, or how do you say, our children” - J National Character “Accuracy, cleanliness, that’s a mixture of German and Scandinavian” - M “Huge need for personal space which is very characteristic to Nordic countries, and Northern Latvia too, but not to southern or eastern Latvia. So I think the value of space is the thing, you can see that, as a Scandinavian country, people do not get close to each other.” – M “In Finland I think people are just as cold and distant as in Estonia, more arrogant maybe, but people are pretty much the same.” – J “Finland, they are neighbours…[we have] also quite similar way of thinking” - H
  9. 9. Results: Culturally Conceptually difficult to define, but nevertheless important “Of course Estonian people are very well known for singing, and we have our song festival, so has Latvia” –H “Maybe Latvian culture is actually similar to Estonian culture” - J “With Finland, I think culturally” - H
  10. 10. How is Estonia Regionally Constructed and Understood? • Linguistically • Blurring the distinction between Alterity and Selfhood • [What do you think Finland and Estonia share that’s really important, that makes the two countries very close?] “I think it’s the language mostly, have you seen a picture of world language trees? There’s the big one, and there’s this tiny one with Estonia and Finland pretty much and some other Finno-Ugric languages, so I think we are kind of special that way.” - J
  11. 11. How is Estonia Regionally Constructed and Understood? • Economically • Transitological/developmental interpretation of economics • “[The Baltics States] don’t have such developed economies, they need some time to get to Capitalism: they are trying, they are making great efforts to get there, but it will take some time yet.” – L • Relative economic size • “If we speak about large companies or things like that, they wouldn’t bother to come here only for Estonia because it’s too small, so they take the Baltic countries as one region.” – L • “Of course economically it makes sense to have this “Baltic” product or whatever” - H
  12. 12. How is Estonia not Understood? • Socio-Economic Models • “Baltic Tiger” “Baltic Model” and “Nordic Model” were all privileged in the literature (eg Browning 2007, Lagerspetz 2003), but not regarded as important subjectively • Very significant because differing socio-economic models are often used as an important differentiating factor when interpreting Estonian attempts to portray themselves as Nordic (Browning 2007, Lagerspetz 2003) • “They [the Baltic States] are not quite northern countries because they haven’t developed as much. They don’t have such developed economies, and also the people, the nations that live there, they need some time to get to Capitalism. That’s what I mean. They are trying, they are making great efforts to get there, but it will take some time.” L • “[What do you think Finland shares in common with these countries other than the climate?] A developed economy.” L
  13. 13. How is Estonia Regionally Constructed and Understood? • Historically • Links to Sweden, Denmark and Iceland emphasised, solidarity and linked to national pride in independence • “Iceland was the first to recognise Estonia as a Republic, Denmark we have the Danish King’s garden here [in Tallinn], in Sweden we also had very big history being under the rule of the Swedes.” - H • Re: Baltic Identity – Shared victimhood of historical tragedy of occupation and annexation
  14. 14. How is Estonia not Understood? • Historically • Links to Teutonic Knights ignored • Soviet times do not create any form of solidarity towards Russia or any other Post-Soviet nation • How relevant is the term “Post-Soviet” to Estonians?
  15. 15. How is Estonia Regionally Constructed and Understood? • Religiously • Religious similarities disregarded & ignored, differences in religious practice & perceptions of degrees of observance are deployed as a differentiating factor • Challenges Huntingtonian interpretations of regional & national identity • “I would say that we [The Baltic States] do not so much have in common at all, because Lithuania is a very religious country…” H • “…we are not a Pribaltika because, well we happened to be sort of close to each other but they are predominantly, well Lithuania definitely, Latvia also, Catholic countries first of all…” M
  16. 16. Conclusions Regarding Regionality as understood in Estonia • Estonians see themselves as both Nordic and Baltic, and often there is no conceptual difficulty in framing themselves as such. • In certain respects eg shared victimhood, culturally, levels of economic development, Estonians are happy to identify with Latvia and Lithuania and confirm the validity of the concept of the Baltic States. • However, in other respects, they are keen to play down the importance of the “Baltic States” eg. Religiously • Far more important for Estonians were their perceived cultural and historical links to Finland. • In terms of a ‘national character,’ links to Finland were most important, and the very concept of ‘national character’ was a very significant one for Estonians, as evidenced by the fact that it was regularly volunteered as a regionally defining factor.
  17. 17. Integration, Identity and Estonia • Maria Mälksoo (2013) “Collective identifications are continuums along which several shades of selfhood and otherness are possible with varying degrees of difference, rather than clear dichotomies” Hybridity and Plurality of Identity • The results demonstrate that it is possible to adopt multiple identities and that these need not challenge our ideas of who we are • It is also possible that a hybridity of identity can exist The question to be answered is which identity assumes dominance when the two come into conflict – it is not possible to know what the outcome will be before the stress point is reached Identity can be applied to inform us of the best way to bridge the gap between the Self and the Other.
  18. 18. Language Language is the most important constitutive factor when rationalising Estonian identity • Migrants and integrational aspirants need language tuition in order to integrate effectively • Non-functionality in Estonian leads to exclusion Security If integration is securitised, it becomes so and the problem doesn’t resolve. However, this is not an internally created problem, and is contingent on external actors (who may not be willing to de-securitise the issue)
  19. 19. 2150649E@glasgow.ac.uk d.edwards.1@research.gla.ac.uk LinkedIn: https://uk.linkedin.com/in/daveedwards1987 Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dave.edwards.1612 Academia.edu: https://glasgow.academia.edu/DavidEdwards

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