Identities and Identity Politics on the Baltic Border: an Estonian School in Russia
Volume 19 (2009): Studia Anthropologica, III: Identity Politics: Histories, Regions and Borderlands, pp. 165–179
Pub. online: 15 October 2009 Type: Article Open Access
15 October 2009
15 October 2009
The article discusses the politicization of language, ethnicity and nationality issues in a border region between Estonia and Russia. The region’s recent past as part of the Soviet Union has a strong bearing on local peoples’ attitudes towards languages and language users in the neighbouring country and among the minorities. Russian-Estonian relations on all levels continue to be affected by the language situation of the former Soviet Union: the dominant status of Russian and the threatened position of Estonian. I discuss the debate around the altered status of the Estonian-language school located in the Russian Pskov region which borders with Estonia. This border region is interesting because of a very long-term co-existence and common history of both Estonian-speaking and Russian-speaking populations. The transformation of the Estonian school in Pechory from a minority language school into a foreign language school can be understood on one hand as a straight-forward response to pressures from declining numbers of pupils that schools in peripheral rural areas are facing everywhere. On the other hand, the case of this particular school can also be seen as an example of the increasing politicization and political use of language and ethnic issues in the Russian Federation.