On October 14th 2009 the first Baltic Heritage Network seminar for young diaspora researchers took place in the Exhibition House of the Estonian National Museum in Tartu.
The aim of the Baltic Heritage Network youth seminars is to bring together young diaspora researchers from different fields of study (history, sociology, cultural studies, literature, art, music and others): university students at bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral studies level. However, the seminars also welcome university students who are just beginning to look into diaspora research.
The seminar was opened by Ms. Piret Noorhani, who introduced the audience to the aims and activities of the Baltic Heritage Network. Following, Ms. Malle Ermel spoke on the Estonian émigré heritage that can be found in the archives of the Tartu University Library, and explained how researchers can obtain the information that they require.
The audience was introduced to some interesting topics by the university students. Ms. Anne Marie Kunder from Tallinn University introduced her research on the issue of emigration in the homeland press (supervisor Jüri Viikberg).The subject of Estonian emigration at the end of the 19th century (1880-1885) was discussed on the basis of press publications during these years.
Mr. Sander Jürisson, a student at Tallinn University, spoke on the community life of Estonian immigrants in Brazil during the years 1920-1930 . The speech summarised the results of his bachelor’s thesis, which was defended in the spring of 2009 (supervisor Aivar Jürgenson).
Mr. Tõnis Märtson’s speech explored Australia’s recognition of the Soviet annexation of the Baltic states. The interesting topic was based on the speaker’s master’s thesis, defended at the University of Tartu this past spring(supervisor Eero Medijainen).
In addition to their research work, the young diaspora researchers also introduced the audience to their future plans, and during the ensuing discussion many good ideas for future research were broached.
A continuation of the opening seminar will take place in the winter/spring of 2010. In addition to the seminars, the decision was made to arrange an introduction to the Estonian memory institutions preserving historical resources regarding the diaspora, in order to help the young researchers to get a better overview of the materials awaiting research. Ms. Maarja Merivoo-Parro from the Tallinn City Museum was appointed as coordinator for The Baltic Heritage Network youth group.