Accepted Paper:

The iconography of memories in contemporary Estonia and Slovenia  


Meike Wulf (University College, London)

Paper short abstract:

My presentation at the EASA conference is intended to be a work-in-progress report of the post-doctoral research project on “The iconography of memories in contemporary Estonia and Slovenia” which focuses more on the Estonian side of the comparison (using the Bronze Soldier incident as focal point) while drawing interesting parallels with the Slovenian situation.

Paper long abstract:

This research aims to develop a comparative perspective on the legacy of war and post-war memories in post-Soviet Estonia and post-socialist Slovenia. Concentrating on urban sites of contested memory, the research aims 1) to establish the differences in the historical cultures of a post-socialist and post-Soviet country at the example of Slovenia and Estonia. 2) to shed light on the dynamic interrelation between city and identity and to explore how specific urban experiences sustain a sense of identity through times of social-political rupture. 3) to illustrate whose version of the past is represented and pronounced in the city architecture and whose sites of memory were displaced or erased after 1945 /1991. As most recently illustrated by the social riots surrounding the removal of the Bronze Solder in Tallinn, urban sites of memory can become contested terrain for different societal groups. These competing groups use the public space to rally for the official recognition of their specific interpretation of the past and different identity narratives deriving from them. The Bronze Soldier serves as a focal point at which different interpretative frameworks of understanding WWII clash. I contextualise the recent course of events surrounding the relocation of the Bronze Solider by considering the spatial context of this Soviet era lieux de memoire in Tallinn's cityscape and by discussing it in relation to various important landmarks of contemporary Estonian historical culture. Concentrating on urban cultural practices I pay attention to the significance that each of the competing group memories attribute to the site.

Panel W047
The new Europe: the politics of recognition, inclusion and exclusion