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Shadowlands: Memory and History in Post-Soviet Estonia

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Memory and History in Post-Soviet Estonia

Meike Wulf

258 pages, 4 illus., 3 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-073-5 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (January 2016)

ISBN  978-1-78920-791-0 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (March 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78533-074-2 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“The book includes many important insights and presents valuable testimonies of Estonian intellectuals in the early 2000s on establishing a new historical culture in independent Estonia.” • European History Quarterly

“The main strength of Shadowlands is the careful construction of collective memories of the First Republic, World War II, and the Communist era, as articulated by Estonia’s historians… [It is] an important contribution to the study of memory and generations. Furthermore, it can provide guidance for scholars who base their research primarily on oral history documents.” • History: Reviews of New Books

“The book presents an elegantly written synthesis of Estonian war and post-war history, which manages the biographical documents with great authority and convincingly conveys the complexity of post-Soviet historical narratives to a broader readership.” • Sehepunkte

“…a fascinating ride through Estonian post-war intellectual and cultural history, told through the personal narratives of historians of different age cohorts.” • Slavic Review

“The book is an elegant synthesis of Estonian war and postwar history, which confidently deals with personal accounts and conveys to a broader readership the complexity of post-soviet historical narrative. Of interest especially for the informed reader is the critical assessment of the struggle for the interpretation of the national memory.” • Journal of East Central European Studies

“The strength of this study lies in its rich contextualization of issues, ranging from the restrictive condition of Soviet history production to subversive cultural memory evident in Andrus Kivirahk’s work, with Wulf’s life-story interviews that give us insights into these historians’ minds. Those readers who are curious about the contentious memory politics of contemporary Estonia should not miss this book.” • Slavonic and East European Review

Shadowlands is an engaging, thoroughly researched, and well-written analysis of the often highly charged debates over the interpretation of Estonia’s history in the post-Soviet era. The author has a sound and nuanced understanding of the literatures on memory and identity and uses these conceptual frameworks to very good effect.” • Richard C. M. Mole, University College London

“This book addresses the important concepts of collective memory and national identity in a country whose history has made both of them highly contested and often traumatic. It does so in a highly original way, drawing on oral history interviews with Estonian intellectuals that add color, immediacy, and a human dimension.” • Patrick Salmon, British Foreign and Commonwealth Office


Located within the forgotten half of Europe, historically trapped between Germany and Russia, Estonia has been profoundly shaped by the violent conflicts and shifting political fortunes of the last century. This innovative study traces the tangled interaction of Estonian historical memory and national identity in a sweeping analysis extending from the Great War to the present day. At its heart is the enduring anguish of World War Two and the subsequent half-century of Soviet rule. Shadowlands tells this story by foregrounding the experiences of the country’s intellectuals, who were instrumental in sustaining Estonian historical memory, but who until fairly recently could not openly grapple with their nation’s complex, difficult past.

Meike Wulf studied at the University of Munster in Germany and gained her doctorate from the London School of Economics. She has taught at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies in London, the University of Konstanz in Germany, and Maastricht University in the Netherlands, in addition to having been a visiting fellow at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge.

Subject: History: 20th Century to PresentMemory Studies
Area: Central/Eastern Europe


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