Accepted Paper:

'Many nice people': policy, community and subjectivity in Estonia  
Gregory Feldman (Simon Fraser University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores Estonia’s integration policy to ask how officials try to produce inter-ethnic communities that would secure the nation state and support Europe’s service economy. This form of governmentality would yield not only flexible, individual subjects, but also forge relations between them.

Paper long abstract:

Governance in mass society is mediated through public policy, which defines, classifies, and categorizes an otherwise heterogeneous population. Given the importance of policy in setting the terms in which 'local' people engage with the state, anthropologists have much reason to ethnographically study policymaking as a situated practice that constitutes 'local' people as particular kinds of citizens that would internalize state and market norms. This paper argues that the role of policy in governmentality is not limited to the production of atomized, individualized subjects through vertical relations with public institutions. They also involve the production of horizontal communities that are apparently egalitarian, organic, and transcendent of cultural differences. Similarly, this project, which serves the interests of the nation-state, involves not only the production of individual pleasure but also of happiness obtained through community-building.

The case study focuses on how an international team of policymakers constructs ideal communities in a public media campaign called 'Many Nice People' that promoted the Estonian government's policy to integrate Soviet-era Russian-speakers. This policy team includes officials from the European Commission, the Nordic Foreign Ministries, the Organization for Security and Cooperation, the United Nations Development Programme, and the Estonian government. The team constructs citizens as ordinary people who find fulfillment by organically forming community, regardless of the state, nation, and cultural difference. This ideal community illuminates how Estonian integration and citizenship policy fits into these policy officials' vision of a secure nation-state system that supports a global market economy. Thus, 'Many Nice People' reflects new policy strategies for the production of minorities and immigrants as future citizens of European Union member states.

Panel W009
Policy worlds