A Lecture at Berkeley on Estonian-Russian intermarriage

november 17, 2014 @ 12:00 p.l. – 1:30 p.l.
Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES)
Stephens Hall
California Ülikool, Berkeley, California 94720
Ameerika Ühendriigid

Late Socialism, Mixed Ethnicities, and Intermarriages: Russian-Estonian Families in Soviet Estonia (Oral History)

Uku Lember, PhD, History, Central European University

Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ISEEES)


The talk is based on the doctoral dissertation, which focused on intermarriages between so-called “Russian newcomers” and “Estonian locals” during the Soviet era through extensive oral history. The presentation aims to deepen our understanding of ethnic cohabitation in Soviet Estonia by showing that there existed intermingled but distinct Russian and Estonian “cultural worlds” which should not be understood as “ethnic” worlds. The talk will also touch upon the patterns through which families negotiated ethno-cultural differences by focusing on the idea of individual “identification.” It will be shown how the ethno-cultural troubles in the intermarriages were very often quietly done away with.

In 1944, the USSR decisively annexed Estonia. While the Russian-speaking community in Estonia would always remain a minority, it grew to a place of increasing importance during the Soviet era and by the time the Soviet Union collapsed, Russian-speakers constituted 35% percent of Estonia’s total population. This presentation attempts to historicize the tense cohabitation of ethnic locals and Russian-speakers on the Western borderlands of the former Soviet empire in order to provide an alternative narrative of contemporary history that is not state or nation-centered but rather focused upon interactions, exchanges and negotiations among “ordinary” people in a multicultural setting.

Uku Lember recently defended his PhD dissertation at Central European University (Budapest). In 2015, he plans to start a new oral history project on the mixing of Ukrainian “east” and “west” familial heritage in Kiev families.

lisa kommentaar

Sinu e-postiaadressi ei avaldata. Nõutavad väljad on tähistatud *-ga