This paper deals with the processes of identity reconstitution for descendants of Jewish emigrants from the Baltic and Central Europe, and with the current relationships they have with these regions. Considering their practices of identity reconnexion which are part of identity re-registration processes, the attention is centered on the individual and collective identity economies existing in victims’ families, and on the social interactions increasing in the context of the institutional politics concerning the Baltic and Central Europe. Many descendants of victims begin nowadays to come more and more to zones where their families lived, and not only to the extermination places. They try to find all that happened in the social history of their family before and during the Holocaust, and also what occurred for the Jews in these territories during the Soviet domination. They seek there the past and current presence of their cultural and historical heritage, which is also one of the important components of the European inheritance.
In this essay, I shall argue that Ethnology can be seen as a scientific approach to the local that promotes a comparative understanding of the “own” and the “other” (and hence of encounters and conflicts) both among humans and between human and non-human subjects, viewed as part of a “local household”. The three approaches are not competing with one another but flowing together, building on and mutually conditioning one another. Their starting point is topography, the thorough description of place; this flows into topology – the interpretation of place with a view to improving the conditions of conviviality – and toposophy, understandings of how lived experience forms our worldview and beliefs grounded in the wisdom of place. In the question of how we express these beliefs in our definitions of the Local, the cycle, in a sense, returns to its starting point.
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.
The purpose of this article is to show the process by which Roma elite members actually construct political and cultural boundaries and at the same time propose a deterritorialised version of a Nation across state borders. As a result, the nation-building project and the process of ethnicisation promoted by Roma activists and members of the elite can be understood as a process of challenging borders and setting up boundaries. On the one hand, state borders may represent the barrier to surmount in order to accomplish an alliance based on a supposed ethnic category. On the other hand, the analysis of Roma identity and political strategies reveals the different forms of boundaries that may exist and how they may in fact be created and manipulated.