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Memory and History in Post-Soviet Estonia

Meike Wulf

258 pages, 4 illus., 3 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-073-5 $90.00/£64.00 Hb Published (January 2016)

eISBN 978-1-78533-074-2 eBook

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“The strength of this study lies in its rich contextualization of issues, ranging from the restrictive condition of Soviet history production to subversive cultural memory evident in Andrus Kivirahk’s work, with Wulf’s life-story interviews that give us insights into these historians’ minds. Those readers who are curious about the contentious memory politics of contemporary Estonia should not miss this book.” • Slavonic and East European Review

Shadowlands is an engaging, thoroughly researched, and well-written analysis of the often highly charged debates over the interpretation of Estonia’s history in the post-Soviet era. The author has a sound and nuanced understanding of the literatures on memory and identity and uses these conceptual frameworks to very good effect.” • Richard C. M. Mole, University College London

“This book addresses the important concepts of collective memory and national identity in a country whose history has made both of them highly contested and often traumatic. It does so in a highly original way, drawing on oral history interviews with Estonian intellectuals that add color, immediacy, and a human dimension.” • Patrick Salmon, British Foreign and Commonwealth Office


Located within the forgotten half of Europe, historically trapped between Germany and Russia, Estonia has been profoundly shaped by the violent conflicts and shifting political fortunes of the last century. This innovative study traces the tangled interaction of Estonian historical memory and national identity in a sweeping analysis extending from the Great War to the present day. At its heart is the enduring anguish of World War Two and the subsequent half-century of Soviet rule. Shadowlands tells this story by foregrounding the experiences of the country’s intellectuals, who were instrumental in sustaining Estonian historical memory, but who until fairly recently could not openly grapple with their nation’s complex, difficult past.

Meike Wulf studied at the University of Munster in Germany and gained her doctorate from the London School of Economics. She has taught at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies in London, the University of Konstanz in Germany, and Maastricht University in the Netherlands, in addition to having been a visiting fellow at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.

Subject: Postwar History
Area: Central/Eastern Europe


List of Figures

Introduction: Shadowlands

Chapter 1. Understanding Collective Memory and National Identity
Chapter 2. Between Teuton and Slav
Chapter 3. Historians as ‘Carriers of Meaning’
Chapter 4. Voicing Post-Soviet Histories
Chapter 5. A Winner’s Tale: The Clash of Private and Public Memories in Post-Soviet Estonia
Chapter 6. Conclusion: Framing Past and Future


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