Decolonizing Eastern Europe: A Baltic Perspective on a Global Debate | Linda Kaljundi

Event time: 
Tuesday, March 5, 2024 - 12:30pm to 2:00pm
Henry R. Luce Hall LUCE, 202 See map
34 Hillhouse Avenue
New Haven, CT 06511
Event description: 

The Baltic Studies Program is pleased to welcome Prof. Linda Kaljundi (Estonian Academy of Arts, Professor of Cultural History / Fulbright Scholar at MIT Program in STS) to give a talk on “Decolonizing Eastern Europe: A Baltic Perspective on a Global Debate.”

Debates about the decolonization of Eastern Europe have been present in the region for much of the post-socialist period. Russia’s full-scale war in Ukraine has finally brought the issue to the attention of the global academic community, a development that has been accompanied by a growing interest among Western scholars in the histories and archives of the borderlands of the former Russian Empire and the USSR.

Not least because of this tense and tragic (though also eye-opening) context, the question of how to decolonize Eastern Europe seems as complex as ever, both on a conceptual and a very practical level. In my presentation, I argue that this new wave of decolonization should go hand in hand with a new wave of writing Russian colonial history from the perspective of the borderlands. Emphasizing the need to challenge the ideas of Russia as a second-hand empire, I also emphasize the challenge of not forgetting the complexity of colonial entanglements in the borderlands.

Drawing primarily from my curatorial research in the transdisciplinary exhibition projects Art and Science (2022) and The Conqueror’s Eye (2019), I examine critical object and collection histories as a way of working through colonial history and colonial amnesia in the Baltics.

Linda Kaljundi is a historian and curator, Professor of Cultural history at Estonian Academy of Arts and Senior Research Fellow in environmental history at Tallinn University. She holds a PhD from the University of Helsinki. Kaljundi has published on Baltic and Nordic premodern and modern history and historiography, collective memory and nation building, as well as the entangled histories of environment, colonialism and science. She has also co-curated a number of interdisciplinary exhibitions, including History in Images – Image in History (2018), The Conqueror’s Eye (2019), Art or Science (2022), and Art in the Age of the Anthropocene (2023), all at Kumu Art Museum, Tallinn. She has co-edited a number of article collections and exhibition catalogues, as well as published a monograph on visual culture as a medium of cultural memory (History in Images – Image in History: National and Transnational Past in Estonian Art, with Tiina-Mall Kreem, 2018).

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