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The scope of new projects in humanities reaches from Estonia to Australia

The Faculty of Arts and Humanities will launch several large-scale research projects in 2023. The scope of the projects extends from Estonia to Australia addressing issues like migration, ethics, education, security, heritage etc.

 

The interdisciplinary project, based on archaeological, written and visual sources, studies processes and developments in Estonia at transition from prehistory to the Middle Ages (1100–1400) with focus on the native society, traditions and culture. The research concerns both continuity and post-crusade innovations – their character, extent and origins. The work packages concern: 1) society and power (native vassals), 2) settlement and centres (hill forts, villages, vassal castles and towns), 3) production technologies, 4) population history and ethnic contacts (aDNA, human osteology), 5) culture and religion (sacred sites, cemeteries). The project also concerns regional differences within Estonia, mainly between coastal and inland areas. The study gives new knowledge about Estonian history, increasing the awareness of the research community and the public about the active role of the natives in the formation and early developments of Medieval Livonia.

Principal investigator: Heiki Valk

In recent years, especially since Putin’s third term in office, history narratives have been widely applied in the strategic communication of the Russia Federation. The project aims to elaborate a novel framework for studying how Russia’s strategic history narratives (SHNs) are constructed and transmedially spread, as well as for what strategic aims they are used. We will study the SHNs that target audiences in the Baltic States, Poland and Ukraine, including a comparative analysis. The project will result in 18 academic articles, 1 monograph, 1 special issue of a journal and 1 web-based learning platform. Information influencing, incl. strategic spreading of history narratives on part of the RF, is considered a major threat to democracy and social cohesion both by the EU Commission (2019) as well as Estonia’s National Development Plan. Our project will improve Estonia’s strategic resilience against such information influence activities.

Principal investigator: Andreas Ventsel

This longitudinal, ethnographic research is situated in Narva, one of the last locations in the state gymnasia network plan and Estonia’s significant border city with Russia. Narva is a complex double language-minority context -- where Russian-speakers are dominant, and Estonian, the sole official state language, is used by a small percentage of the population. In Russian-speaking Narva, many children find challenges to learn Estonian. To serve this linguistically mixed community, two, new state upper secondary schools will be operating by 2023. In this research project, we compare, in these parallel educational settings, how the promise of quality education is imagined and implemented, and how state and local government officials, school leaders, teachers and students interpret it. These parallel Narva schools constitute a natural experiment that offers a unique opportunity to explore concepts of quality and belonging through the experiences of the first graduating class.

Principal investigator: Kadri Koreinik

Ethics and integrity are key dimensions of excellence in research and crucial for public trust in science. BEYOND will reinforce efforts to promote adherence to the highest standards of research ethics and integrity (RE/RI) and prevent research misconduct (RM) by developing and disseminating regulatory and educational interventions that elucidate institutional and individual responsibilities for ensuring and fostering research environments conducive to ethical research. BEYOND will explore the existing literature on behavioural ethics and moral psychology as well as the socio-economic consequences of research misconduct and engage all involved stakeholders in a public consultation.

Principal investigator: Kadri Simm

This multidisciplinary study investigates child diet, feeding practices, and disease in a large dataset of non-adults from medieval and early modern Estonia (13th-18th cent.) combining Paleopathology and Stable Isotope Analysis (SIA). This fills a large research gap, since child bioarchaeology is highly understudied in the Baltics. Cross-sectional SIA allows reconstructing the general population diet, comparing non-survivors (child) and survivors (child/adult), and identifying breastfeeding/weaning ages. Incremental SIA of dentine and bone provides life-long individual dietary histories, including stress episodes. Combined with pathological data, this work will offer a large-scale overview of child health and diet over 600 years, detecting the long-term impact of historical famines, epidemics, and warfare on children and caregivers. This study will spread light on human groups that were marginalized in the past, connecting with the present concept of childhood in Estonian identity.

Principal investigator: Alessandra Morrone

Languages have always played an important role when groups of people were living side by side. Speakers might be suppressed or take up a new language. But as much as a language says a lot about individual identity, it also carries a large reference to the culture and history of the group in which it is spoken and the cultural background. It is tightly interwoven with emotions and traditions, which are worth keeping up, as they stand for personal roots. RISE UP interconnects all relevant knowledge actors including citizens, civil society and end users. It collects and analyses background information, it identifies good practices and develops new methods with the help and support of people being concerned and interested in the topic. Thus, RISE UP aims at the empowerment of these endangered language communities, fostering their self-confidence and overcoming past trauma. In the understanding of the RISE UP consortium these endangered language communities include learners, new speakers, people who have not had the chance to learn their heritage languages, supporters, and other interested parties as well as actual speakers. RISE UP explores and deals with

  • Context, reasons and policies for endangered languages within Europe;
  • Collecting and creating a set of tools to support local communities;
  • Interconnecting relevant groups of stakeholders;
  • Involving and attracting especially young people and other stakeholders, e.g. by using digital tools.

Principal investigator: Kristin Kuutma

The project focuses on virtual transnationalism and aims to understand how virtual possibilities allow people abroad to be actively involved in their country of origin. The project aims to expand the concept of virtual transnationalism focusing on direct participation and be engagement in the country of origin. The project stands on Estonia-Australia case study in context of Covid-19 pandemic when travelling between these two countries was not possible and unique usage of technology was developing. Estonia - a highly digitized country with online solutions (e-elections, digital signature, e-tax system, online learning centers, etc.) allows people to continuously participate in home country. New technologies used by Estonian migrants are unique and allow to study how new technological solutions reshape the transnational experience in the future. The project will stand on the ethnographic research and qualitative interviews conducted among Estonians living in Australia.

Principal investigator: Keiu Telve

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