Annual Report 2010-11

Annual Report 2010-11

The year saw numerous published outputs from GBRU initiatives. These included a collection entitled From Recognition to Restoration, Latvia’s History as a Nation-State (Rodopi) from the Nov 2008 Glasgow conference on the 90th anniversary of Latvia’s original declaration of independence. The book is co-edited by David Smith, Geoffrey Swain (Glasgow) and David Galbreath (Aberdeen). All three editors contributed chapters, as did GBRU PhD student Marina Germane. The book disseminated further insights from Smith and Hiden’s research on cultural autonomy and Swain’s research on Latvia during the Second World War. Swain’s research partner Irena Salaniece from Daugavpils University, Latvia, collaborating on his current oral history project, also contributed a chapter. Martyn Housden (University of Bradford) and David Smith also submitted the manuscript of a Festschrift for John Hiden entitled ‘The Forgotten Pages of Baltic History: Diversity and Inclusion’ which includes contributions from a range of prominent European and North American contributors.. Two further book chapters by Smith on cultural autonomy appeared during the year. Hiden, Smith and Swain are also contributing to the jointly-authored History of the Baltic Sea Region being prepared by the Nord-Ost Institut, Lueneburg and sponsored by the Volkswagen Stiftung. The first fruits of Swain’s oral history project on the post-war sovietisation of Latvia were published in the proceedings of the “Scientific Readings” of Daugavpils University. GBRU PhD student Tina Tamman successfully defended her thesis on Baltic diplomatic history and had this accepted for publication.

A new departure in research was Lea Kreinin’s grant from the Estonian government to collect life stories of Estonian immigrants in the UK and make these publicly available through a new web-based repository. This work dovetails with the emerging Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network as well as with the work of CRCEES EU Marie Curie Postdoc Judit Molnar on CEE migrant integration in the UK and the USA. ESRC Postdoc Vytautas Petronis completed his year at CRCEES in February 2010 before moving on to a similar position at the Herder Institute, Marburg. He has maintained close links with Glasgow and the outcome of a joint AHRC application with Smith on the mapping of ethnic territories in CEE is still pending. Both have also joined a new Leibnitz Foundation project to create a Digital Atlas of Eastern Europe. A further CRCEES visiting postdoc, Keiji Sato (Hokkaido), arrived with Japanese state funding for comparative research on late- and post-Soviet ethnic mobilization in Lithuania, Estonia, Moldova and Georgia. The research area was also widely showcased at international conferences, notably the 2010 ICCEES World Congress in Stockholm. Two of the seven CRCEES-sponsored panels at ICCEES had Baltic themes and included network participants from Glasgow, Tartu, Turku, Daugavpils and Nottingham Trent. GBRU and UCL-SSEES also co-organised the May 2010 meeting of the UK Baltic Study Group in Glasgow. This brought speakers from the UK (Ian Thomson, UCL), Germany (Mark Hatlie, Tuebingen) and Sweden (Matthew Kott, Uppsala) and was attended by Latvia’s Ambassador to the UK. In March 2011 Smith was an invited speaker at a conference in Uppsala on comparative state and nation-building in the Baltic States, organized by the Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies. 

The year also saw significant instances of non-academic user engagement and research ‘impact’. Swain’s path-breaking research on Latvia’s WW2 democratic resistance saw him invited by Latvia’s Ministry of Defence to discuss how to develop new, more constructive approaches to the fraught politics of history in contemporary Latvia. Hiden continued his long-standing advisory work with the Estonian Foreign Ministry, attending two joint academic-practitioner conferences in Tallinn. In February 2011 Hiden, Smith and Swain were all invited speakers at a London seminar funded by the Latvian Embassy to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Britain’s recognition of Estonia and Latvia. In early 2010, GBRU’s ESRC PhD student Paul Jordan also undertook an internship with the external affairs directorate of the Scottish Government, bringing to bear his expertise on small nation-branding in a Baltic context. Finally, the Baltic Way exhibition at Glasgow, opened by the Latvian Ambassador in January 2011, attracted large numbers of visitors, some of whom drew comparisons with recent events in Egypt and other Arab World states.

The CRCEES Baltic Studies group also commenced a new research training initiative with Justus Liebig University, Giessen and the Herder Institut. A joint ‘Giessen meets Glasgow’ seminar on language, culture and politics (Nov 2010) brought Hiden, Sato, Smith and CEES PhD students Ammon Cheskin, Marina Germane and Ada Regelmann together with staff and students from the Giessen’s PG Centre of Excellence for the Study of Culture and its East European Studies Centre. Smith and Hiden concluded the day with a joint keynote lecture entitled ‘Nation-State or State Community? Alternatives from Inter-war Europe’. An ERASMUS staff and postgraduate student exchange has been established and a follow-up seminar will be held as part of the May 2011 CRCEES Research Forum in Glasgow. Also present at the Forum will be Valters Scerbinskis from Riga Stradins University, who comes to Glasgow as the first visitor under the new Erasmus staff exchange agreement between the two institutions. Valters Scerbinskis will also give a paper at the 2011 meeting of the UK Baltic Study Group in Swansea on 9 May.

Activities 2006-07

Activities 2006-07

In September 2006 the Unit was pleased to welcome Lea Kreinin, who was appointed to a new Estonian government-funded Lectureship in Estonian Language and Culture. Lea has begun teaching Estonian language, society and culture to both undergraduate honours and postgraduate students within the Department of Central and East European Studies and wider faculties of Law, Business and Social Sciences and Arts. In December 2006 Dace Praulins was appointed to a new four-year part-time Lectorship in Latvian, created under the auspices of the new Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies (CRCEES). Dace ran a beginner's class in Latvian language for departmental staff and students during the spring of 2007, and will start to offer full Honours and postgraduate options in Latvian language, history and culture from 2007-08.

In May 2007 Swain, Kreinin and Tamman all presented papers at the inaugural CRCEES Research Forum, which also welcomed Professor Marju Lauristin of the University of Tartu as a plenary speaker. CRCEES also provided additional financial support for a further joint academic-practitioner round table organised by Smith in January 2007 as part of the additional non-academic user dissemination agenda of the AHRC project. Smith and Hiden both spoke at the event, which incorporated representatives from the Hungarian and Armenian governments and the OSCE. This was followed up in May 2007 with a Council of Europe UniDem Seminar in Zagreb on the participation of minorities in public life, organised jointly by GBRU, the AHRC, the Venice Commission, the Government of Croatia and the University of Zagreb. The Unit was also pleased to welcome H.E. Mr Vygaudas Ušačkas, Lithuanian Ambassador to the UK, who visited the University on 6-7 March 2007. In addition to giving a public lecture on the challenges facing Lithuania in the 21st century, Mr Ušačkas attended the official launch of the Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies, met with the Principal of the University of Glasgow Sir Muir Russell and the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament Mr George Reid, and viewed a display of documents and materials relating to the life and work of Adam Smith, specially arranged by the University Library and Archival Services.   

The year was a busy one for research and conference visits. In June 2007 Smith, Burch and Swain all presented papers at the Conference on Baltic Studies in Europe, held in Luneburg, Germany. Smith and Burch spent a week in Stockholm during March, conducting further work towards their joint British Academy project. In June 2007 Burch hosted the third annual meeting of the UK Baltic Study Group at Nottingham Trent University. Smith and Hiden also visited the Herder Institute in Marburg in October 2006 and the Nord-Ost Institut in Luneburg in February 2007 to collect the final archival material towards their AHRC project and to make use of the excellent libraries at both institutions. Last, but not least, congratulations are due to Dirk Crols and Eero Mikenberg, both of whom successfully defended their PhD theses during the year.

In September 2006 the Unit was pleased to welcome Lea Kreinin, who was appointed to a new Estonian government-funded Lectureship in Estonian Language and Culture. Lea has begun teaching Estonian language, society and culture to both undergraduate honours and postgraduate students within the Department of Central and East European Studies and wider faculties of Law, Business and Social Sciences and Arts. In December 2006 Dace Praulins was appointed to a new four-year part-time Lectorship in Latvian, created under the auspices of the new Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies (CRCEES). Dace ran a beginner's class in Latvian language for departmental staff and students during the spring of 2007, and will start to offer full Honours and postgraduate options in Latvian language, history and culture from 2007-08.

In May 2007 Swain, Kreinin and Tamman all presented papers at the inaugural CRCEES Research Forum, which also welcomed Professor Marju Lauristin of the University of Tartu as a plenary speaker. CRCEES also provided additional financial support for a further joint academic-practitioner round table organised by Smith in January 2007 as part of the additional non-academic user dissemination agenda of the AHRC project. Smith and Hiden both spoke at the event, which incorporated representatives from the Hungarian and Armenian governments and the OSCE. This was followed up in May 2007 with a Council of Europe UniDem Seminar in Zagreb on the participation of minorities in public life, organised jointly by GBRU, the AHRC, the Venice Commission, the Government of Croatia and the University of Zagreb. The Unit was also pleased to welcome H.E. Mr Vygaudas Ušačkas, Lithuanian Ambassador to the UK, who visited the University on 6-7 March 2007. In addition to giving a public lecture on the challenges facing Lithuania in the 21st century, Mr Ušačkas attended the official launch of the Centre for Russian, Central and East European Studies, met with the Principal of the University of Glasgow Sir Muir Russell and the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament Mr George Reid, and viewed a display of documents and materials relating to the life and work of Adam Smith, specially arranged by the University Library and Archival Services.   

The year was a busy one for research and conference visits. In June 2007 Smith, Burch and Swain all presented papers at the Conference on Baltic Studies in Europe, held in Luneburg, Germany. Smith and Burch spent a week in Stockholm during March, conducting further work towards their joint British Academy project. In June 2007 Burch hosted the third annual meeting of the UK Baltic Study Group at Nottingham Trent University. Smith and Hiden also visited the Herder Institute in Marburg in October 2006 and the Nord-Ost Institut in Luneburg in February 2007 to collect the final archival material towards their AHRC project and to make use of the excellent libraries at both institutions. Last, but not least, congratulations are due to Dirk Crols and Eero Mikenberg, both of whom successfully defended their PhD theses during the year.

Activities 2005-06

Activities 2005-06

The year saw the retirement of Professor James White after a long and distinguished academic career at the University of Glasgow covering many different aspects of Soviet, Baltic and East European History. James retains the status of Emeritus Professor at the Department and is continuing to play an active part in the work of the Unit through his continued research on Baltic history. The work of GBRU was bolstered in April 2006 by the appointment of Professor Geoffrey Swain to the Alec Nove Chair at the Department of Central and East European Studies. The Unit was also pleased to welcome as a new member Tina Tamman, who began a part-time study towards a PhD at the Department of Central and East European Studies on the life and work of August Torma, Estonia's Ambassador to the UK from 1934-1971. Tina previously worked as a Senior Editor at BBC Monitoring in Reading.

In March 2006 Smith and Burch conducted the first round of fieldwork for their joint project on public monuments in Estonia, gathering written materials and conducting a series of interviews with key decision-makers in the north-east Estonian city of Narva. Smith and Hiden continued work on their AHRC project during the year, visiting the League of Nations Archive in Geneva, The Estonian State Archive in Tallinn and the Russian State Military Archive in Moscow, and presenting papers at the AABS Conference on Baltic Studies in Washington DC in June 2006. At the conference Hiden was presented with the AABS Book Prize for his 2004 biography of Paul Schiemann. Shortly afterwards, Smith and Hiden gave a short presentation of their work to the second annual meeting of the UK Baltic Study Group, hosted by Dr Richard Mole at UCL-SSEES in London. They were joined by Tamman, who presented some preliminary findings from her Estonian archive work on August Torma. A joint article summarising initial findings from the AHRC project appeared in Journal of Contemporary History volume 41, no 3 during July 2006. In the same month Smith organised a workshop in Glasgow on 'The Theory and Practice of Cultural Autonomy in Central and Eastern Europe: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives'. This incorporated leading academic speakers (including Professor Will Kymlicka) from seven countries, as well as policymakers from the Romanian government and the Council of Europe Venice Commission. The findings of the workshop will be published in a special issue of Ethnopolitics in September 2007 (and subsequently reproduced in the form an edited book by Routledge). In February 2006 Smith obtained a further £10,500 from AHRC for the purpose of disseminating project findings to non-academic users, through a series of workshops and an additional published volume of documents .

In July 2006 Smith and Hiden were also invited to meet the President of Estonia, Arnold Rüütel at a dinner at the Scottish Parliament, hosted by Presiding Officer George Reid. This followed a visit to the University in November 2005 by the Estonian Minister of Culture Raivo Palmaru and Mr Ilmar Raag, Head of the Boards of Estonian Television. Both joined Mr Mart Meri, Chairman of the Council of Estonian Language and Culture Abroad, in a round table discussion on Culture, Communication and Media in the New Europe, organised as part of the 'Estonian Days in Scotland' festival.

Activities 2004-05

Activities 2004-05

Perhaps the most notable event of the year was a visit to GBRU and the University of Glasgow on the 18th October by the Prime Minister of Estonia, Mr Juhan Parts who gave a public lecture entitled, 'Estonia in the EU: Does it change anything?'

A busy year for the Unit saw a number of new developments and the appointment of two visiting fellows. Dr Helen Morris, previously a fellow of CERPS, Brussels, was attached to GBRU for the entire academic year, when she continued to work on ethnic politics in Latvia while developing new research in the field of migration studies. Dr Sylviu Miloiu, an expert on Baltic History at the University of Targoviste, Romania, spent three months in Glasgow during the autumn on a Romanian government grant, pursuing comparative research on British foreign policy towards Estonia, Finland and Romania during the year 1939-40.

John Hiden received further recognition of his extensive work on Baltic history during the year, when he was awarded the Cross of St Mary by the President of Estonia (photo right). This is the second such honour that he has received, having earlier been made a corresponding award by the President of Lithuania. In November 2004, Smith was appointed to the Editorship of Journal of Baltic Studies, the academic publication of the US-based Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS).

Smith and Hiden continued work on their AHRC project during the year, conducting further archival research in Tallinn, Riga and the former Soviet 'trophy archive' now housed in the Russian State Military Archive, which contains the papers of the inter-war Estonian German minority rights activist Dr Ewald Ammende. Conference papers on the theme of cultural autonomy were given at: the ICCEES World Congress in Berlin (July 2005); a special joint symposium with the Nord-Ost Institut, Luneburg (November 2004); and at an international conference on regional identity in the Baltic Sea Area (Klaipeda, May 2005), which GBRU organised jointly with the University of Klaipeda using funds granted by the MacFie Bequest of the University of Glasgow. A joint article outlining some of the preliminary findings of the project was accepted for publication in Journal of Contemporary History. In February 2005 Smith and Hiden were invited to Bucharest to brief members of the Romanian government and parliament on the Estonian model of cultural autonomy for national minorities, as part of the process of elaborating a new minorities law for Romania. The discussions formed part of a project organised by the European Centre for Minority Issues and funded by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Smith and Hiden continued their long-standing work with FCO in April 2005, when both attended a briefing lunch in London for the new UK Ambassador to Latvia.

Work was also ongoing on the project 'The Baltic Question during the Cold War', which is jointly convened by Smith and Hiden in collaboration with Dr Vahur Made of the Estonian School of Diplomacy. First drafts of articles for an edited volume on the project theme were submitted by contributors during the year.

In December 2004 Smith obtained £7500 from the British Academy for a new two-year (2005-07) joint project with Dr Stuart Burch of the Department of Heritage Studies at Nottingham Trent University. Entitled 'Commemoration, Public Monuments and the Renegotiation of Collective Identities in the "Baltic World"', the project is a detailed interdisciplinary case study of the local politics surrounding the reestablishment of a 'Swedish Lion' monument in the heavily Russian-speaking city of Narva in 2000. It combines Smith's expertise on identity politics and nationalism in Estonia with Burch's extensive work on heritage and public monuments in Northern Europe, and builds on a research partnership first established in Finland back in 1994-95.

The year also saw the inaugural meeting of the UK Baltic Study Group, established by GBRU and colleagues from UCL-SSEES (London) following the meeting with Charles Clarke in July 2004. Smith organised and chaired the first meeting of the group at Glasgow in June 2005, and the meeting agreed that he should act as secretary of the group. A total of 25 people attended the meeting, including representatives of the FCO and the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian embassies.

Activities 2003-04

Activities 2003-04

Much of the Unit's activity during the autumn and early winter was devoted to preparations for the GBRU inaugural conference, held in January 2004 on the eve of NATO and EU enlargement to the Baltic States. Given the working title 'The Baltic States: New Europe or Old?', the call for papers invited participants to reflect on all aspects of the three countries' relationship to Europe, past and present. The two-day event attracted 45 speakers and 120 participants from 11 countries, including representatives of national and local government, NGOs and business. GBRU contributors included Hiden, Hope, Jakobson-Obolenski, Mikenberg, Smith, White and Woolfson. Keynote plenary addresses were given by the Estonian and Latvian Ministers for Ethnic Affairs, Paul-Eerik Rummo and Nils Muiznieks, and the Lithuanian Ambassador to the UK. Funding for the conference was provided by the British Academy, the MacFie Bequest of the University of Glasgow and Glasgow City Council, which organised a reception for participants at the City Chambers. A selection of papers from the conference was subsequently published as part of Rodopi publisher's Baltic Studies series.

The year saw the publication of Hiden's biography of the inter-war Baltic German politician and European minority rights activist Paul Schiemann (1876-1944) (book). Smith and Hiden also began archival work for their AHRC project during the year, making visits to the Estonian State Archive in Tallinn and the Latvian State Historical Archive in Riga. As well as presenting papers on the theme of cultural autonomy at the inaugural GBRU conference, they organised a panel on this theme at the Association for the Study of Nationalities Conference at Columbia University, New York on 15-17 April. Earlier that month, Smith was invited to give a paper on Baltic-Russian relations at the SSEES symposium on The Baltic States on the Eve of EU Accession (2 April 2004). The following day he addressed the Plenary Session of the BASEES Annual Conference at the University of Cambridge, giving a talk on the theme of 'The Baltic States: Looking Forward and Looking Back.'

Work with non-academic user groups included Smith and Hiden's participation in an FCO briefing meeting for the new UK Ambassador to Lithuania. In the context of the government's emerging Language-Based Area Studies Initiative, both were also invited to a meeting with Charles Clarke in July to discuss a strategy for the development of Baltic studies within the UK. Another notable event at Glasgow during the year was a visit by the Estonian Ambassador to the UK Dr Kaja Tael, who gave a lecture entitled 'Taking stock of the accession process: Estonia and the future of the European Union' and met with staff and students at a reception and dinner hosted by the Department of Central and East European Studies.

Activities 2002-03

Activities 2002-03

Themes of nationhood, nationalism and minority rights constituted a key focus of GBRU's activities during the initial year of its existence. In May 2003 Smith and Hiden were successful in their bid for £44,000 of funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Board for a four-year (September 2003-August 2007) project entitled 'Ending Nationalism? The Quest for Cultural Autonomy in Inter-war Europe'. This application drew upon and developed existing work by both applicants in the area of nationhood and minorities in the inter-war Baltic States.
In June 2003, Crols, Hiden and Smith organised a joint panel on issues of multiculturalism and minority rights at the Conference on Baltic Studies in Europe, held at the University of Turku, Finland. Hiden was a keynote plenary speaker at the conference, while Smith acted as the Division Chair for Social Sciences. Hiden and Smith were subsequently invited to submit their papers for inclusion in a published volume of conference contributions, under the editorship of the conference convenor Marko Lehti. The findings of Smith and Lehti's previous collaboration on the British Academy/CIMO/Nordic Council-funded project 'Mapping the Baltic Sea Area' (1999-2001) were published in the form of the jointly edited volume Post-Cold War Identity Politics: Northern and Baltic Experiences, to which Hiden also contributed a chapter.

Smith also gave a paper on Europeanisation and minority rights at the ECPR General Conference, Marburg, in September. An article on this same theme was published in the ECMI Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe. In the summer, Smith was invited to participate in the work of the Estonian Integration Foundation. His reflections on the ongoing integration process subsequently appeared in an edited collection of articles on this topic, and were also published in the country's Estonian and Russian-language media.

The resources of the Unit were bolstered in Summer 2003, when Hiden kindly donated the archive of the now-defunct Baltic Unit at the University of Bradford. Built up since 1988, this extensive collection includes materials on the early phases of post-Soviet transition, as well as copies of original British Foreign and Commonwealth documents on the Baltic States and Scandinavia from the 1920s and 1930s. These are housed as a dedicated resource within the Glasgow University Library.

The year also saw several events connected with Hope's project on Churches and European Integration, including a seminar in late August attended by speakers from Estonia, Finland and Germany.

In Mid-September, White hosted a visit to the University by Professor Ene Ergma, Speaker of the Estonian Riigikogu. Professor Ergma met with students and staff of the department, which hosted a lunch attended by the Estonian Ambassador and members of the local business community, including a representative of the Scottish Council for Development and Industry (SCDI). Earlier in the year, Smith had briefed members of this organisation on economic and political development in Estonia ahead of the SCDI's trade mission to the country in June.