Post-Cold War Identity Politics: Northern and Baltic Experiences

By Marko Lehti; David J.Smith | Go to book overview

Series Editor's Preface

The present volume, an important addition to the study of nationalism and nation-building, is the product of co-operative efforts among historians and social scientists from Baltic and Scandinavian countries-Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland and Denmark-as well as from Russia, Germany and Britain. Some of the contributions deal with diversities and commonalities among the various countries, and others focus on the three small Baltic republics, providing insights into their history and their national narratives from the Hanseatic era to the present. In various chapters devoted to individual countries, the authors, while discussing the continuing attempts to overcome the legacy of Soviet occupation, do not neglect the problem of coping with the darker side of their national past, including the departures from the democratic model during the interwar period and collaboration with the Nazis during the Second World War.

A major theme of the book is the efforts by the Baltic countries to regain their traditional (pre-Soviet) national bearings and to incline them in a western democratic direction. The 'renationalization' of their collective identities and political cultures is hampered by demographic realities, including the presence of ethnonational minorities. For example, the sizable Russian 'stranded' diaspora in Estonia and Latvia poses problems with respect to the relationship between language requirements, citizenship, and civil rights.

The policies of the Baltic countries are also informed by their geography: their northern, or 'Baltoscandian', positioning between Eastern and Western Europe, which is no longer defined in NATO terms but is reflected both in the desire to maintain orderly links to Russia-a complicated task in view of history and the sheer size and power of this neighbouring country and the lingering anti-Russian sentiments-and in a deepening of relations with Western Europe via the anticipated entry of the three former Soviet republics into the European Union.

The Baltic countries are individually small and marginalized; in the face of this situation, they are constrained to act collectively: they must

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