The Baltic Region

2011 Issue №4(10)

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Historical memory in the age of globalization: the case of Russian- Estonian relations



This article contributes to the discussion within the "Towards the Common Past" international academic network bringing together scholars from Russia, the Baltic States and the Nordic countries. It assesses the relationship between globalization and historical memory, thus contributing to the discussion on globalization and the roles and applications of history. On the basis of an analysis of academic discourses on globalization and historical memory, the author arrives at two conclusions. On the one hand, the proponents of globalization use historical memory as one of their arguments: they claim that the history of globalization in international relations stretches back to the 19th century, thus globalization is an irreversible process. On the other hand, globalization attaches international significance to historical events that were earlier considered as being of local importance. The author proves the latter statement through comparing Russian and Estonian discourses on the relationship between the events which took place in Tallinn in September 1944 and April 2007. Highlighting the differences between the two discourses may help Russian scholars understand the reasons behind the political decisions made by the Estonian authorities in April 2007. It accounts for the practical significance of the research conducted, since one of the most important objectives of international relations as a discipline is not to explain what decision would have been the most appropriate in the given situation, but to further the understanding of the reasons behind the actually made decision. The author expresses his gratitude to his counterparts from St. Petersburg State University and the Immanuel Kant Baltic Federal University, as well as those from the Universities of Lund (Sweden), Tampere (Finland), and Tartu (Estonia) for their comments on the earlier versions of the article. At the same time, the author alone bears all the responsibility for the conclusions drawn in the article.


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