The Sixth Baltic Heritage Network Seminar for Young Diaspora Researchers

February 20, 2011

The seminar took place at the Estonian Academy of Arts’ Department of Folk Art and Cultural Anthropology in Tallinn on Thursday the 10th of February 2011. It was the sixth in a series of seminars aiming to bring together young diaspora researchers.

This time, the presentations focused on fieldwork theory, methodology and practice, and introduced different possibilities for carrying out diaspora research. The collection Siberi eestlaste elud ja lood (The Lives and Narratives of Siberian Estonians) was also presented.

The first speaker was Jane Kalajärv, master’s student at the Academy of Arts’ Department of Folk Art and Cultural Anthropology. In the presentation ’Fieldwork in the Estonian diaspora’, she introduced the research methodology used within her field. The focus of the overview was mainly anthropological fieldwork methods and principles, and she illustrated the presentation with practical examples from her research work in Toronto this summer past. The Canadian theme was continued by the Baltic Heritage Network’s secretary Karin Kiisk, who spoke on her experiences of fieldwork in Toronto’s Estonian community, focusing on her four months of fieldwork arranging the voluminous archives of Stella and Johannes Pahapill in 2010. Karin also covered the difficulties involved in interviewing ’new foreign Estonians’ that she experienced during her first research trip to Toronto in 2008.

Gristel Ramler, head of the private archives section at the National Archives of Estonia, gave an overview of the history of the Estonian Archives in the U.S. and described the activities of the Estonian National Archives at the Immigration History Research Centre (IHRC) in Minneapolis that now holds many of the Estonian archives and archival material relating to the Estonian diaspora which were previously located in Lakewood. She spoke in detail on the arrangement and description of those archives and showed listeners a glimpse of the contents of the personal archives.

Anu Korb, Senior Researcher at the Estonian Literary Museum’s Estonian Folklore Archives who was recently awarded the Estonian Cultural Endowment’s (Kultuurkapital) annual award, presented her recent publication Siberi eestlaste elud ja lood (Eesti asundusted V), [The Lives and Narratives of Siberian Estonians] and gave an overview of the collecting of materials, the principles behind the written compilations and future plans.

The speeches and book presentations were followed by a free exchange of thoughts on diaspora research.

Sander Jürisson