Accepted Paper:

Knowledge production in the age of uncertainty  
Marleen Metslaid (Estonian National Museum)

Paper short abstract:

The paper discusses the possibilities and limitations of doing ethnological research in the age of uncertainty for researcher. It explores the academic career of Gustav Ränk (1902–1998), a well-known Estonian scholar, during the World War II and after emigrating to Sweden.

Paper long abstract:

Although all research may be considered as intellectual endeavor, the political, social and economic contexts play significant role in the possibilities and outcomes of knowledge production processes. The researcher is dependent on his/her social and academic background, but also on the political situation of his/her country. But what happens when the researcher finds him/herself in the turmoil of war and has to flee to a foreign country?

The paper discusses the situation of Estonian ethnology during the World War II and after by exploring the case study of Gustav Ränk (1902-1998), one of the main figures in the discipline. Ränk was the professor of ethnology at the University of Tartu 1939-1944, the time of losing independent state and following occupations by Soviet and German powers. In 1944, Ränk fled to Sweden where he managed to continue his academic career at the University of Stockholm. The paper analyses the possibilities and limitations of doing research during the war-years and investigates the reasons of how he succeeded as a researcher in Sweden. Beside his will and talent, the role of acquaintances and supporters was decisive.

Panel P020
Themes in the history of anthropology