NORDIC ETHNOLOGY FROM AND IN ESTONIAN PERSPECTIVE
The nature and borders of ethnology have constantly changed. This is a text modelled over and over again, which modifies itself alongside with the context. This text comprising alternating discourses can and must always be explained only through its creation, usage and meaning in certain time and space. In Estonian ethnology a special role in the discursive changes of the discipline has been played by Nordic countries, both in the construction of Estonian folk culture and in the development of its research traditions, later on also in extending and breaking the borders, painful changing and present modernization. This is only natural. Not to mention constant long-lasting historical-political, economical and cultural relations, Estonia has been attracted to Nordic countries more strongly than in any other directon. Even in the 20th century our collective memory has preserved the image of "good old Swedish time". These processes became especially intensive beginning from the period the Estonian nation and national culture building in the 2nd half of the 19th century. This was the time when Nordic orientation presented itself in Estonians’ minds as the third possible option, excluding the traditional German-Russian prevalence. A special place in the Nordic orientation has always been occupied by Estonians’ solidarity with the Finns, with whom they we connected by common origin, language coherence, neighbourhood and, in the period of nation building, also the status of an occupied country as part of Tzarist Russia. At present several of the aforementioned aspects emerge again.
Development of the Nordic orientation: from the construction of folk culture to its preservation. The construction of the Estonians’ identity, nation and folk culture, the development and preservation of the form arsenal and characteristics inherent to them has been more complicated and more difficult than in the case of several other European small nations. The battle for the ethnical-historical borders, for culture and recognizing themselves as a nation, had to be fought both against the occupation and the indifference of a certain part of one’s own nation.The position between the two worlds – the East and the West – has brought about not only conquests but also contacts and comparisons with both of them. In any case, concern about the disappearance of the nation and national culture has been constant in Estonia and is still continuing, being quite well-based as the Estonians’ national vitality has up to now repeatedly found an unfavourable solution. Some other ingredients of the Estonians’ background are poverty, descent from peasantry, relative seclusion from Europe and especially the fact that actually Estonia was a cultural province of Germany from the 13th century until the end of the 19th century. And finally – Estonia has repeatedly been subjcted to the Russification policy. Despite that, we managed to build up our own nation and culture and, through legal equality and the autonomy claim, we reached the creation of an independent state; later on, at the end of the 20th century, also its re-establishment. It is difficult to overestimate the role of Nordic countries in this process. Moreover, both the Estonian nation building and the construction of folk culture were mostly based on the Nordic pattern.
Indeed, the discovery of folk art in the Nordic countries as well as in Estonia was connected with the ideology of nationalism, emotional nostalgia towards the past, mythological tendencies and the triumph of historicism in the spiritual culture of the late 19th century Europe. On the other hand, as a means and output of establishing national ideology and the middle-class bourgeois hegemony, folk culture became the main basis for distinguishing from other peoples, expressing national solidarity and the general cultural orientation during the process of nation building and its existence. So the moulding of the Great Narrative in Estonian culture actually took place following the example of the Nordic countries as the latter gave a wide range of essential patterns to be followed in the building of folk culture.
In the formation of the Great Narrative of nationalism the first vision created was about the thriving culture of the past, the only bearer of which in Estonia could be the local race – the Estonian peasantry. Enthusiastic collection of peasant culture was initiated. When rendering meaning to the ancient treasures, they started to be appreciated as real cultural values and, in the atmosphere of myth-creation, they became part of national identity and culture. In the process of sacralization an image of Estonian folk culture as a really uniform, original phenomenon with high artistic level, keeping to traditions and not comprising the practical side of peasant life, was created in people’s minds. Due to ancient contacts with Scandinavian countries these cultural constituents were also switched into the formed mythical space.
As the idea of nationalism is connected with progress, the mythological past destroyed by the enemy should also serve as a guarantee for securing a happy future. So, on the basis of cultural morphology, i.e., the concept of the organic growth and development of culture, the mythical folk culture became a language rendering meaning not only to history, but also present and future. The created mythical culture became to be preserved and revived with the concrete help and following the example of the Nordic countries, especially Finland (educating).
In the period of eager folklore and ethnographical material collection in the late 19th century and early 20th century Estonia lacked strength, skills and people to systematize the collected material, not to mention its research. The Estonian National Museum founded in 1909 following the example of the National Museum of Finland and the Nordiska museet to preserve the cultural treasures was void of such ambition as well: the initial aim was similar to that of its "mother museums": to collect, preserve and popularize. The establishment of the museum, however, created prerequisites for the formation of research work at the following stage.
Estonian folk science – child of Nordic ethnology. At the beginning of the 20th century the revival attempts of the old folk culture in Estonia remained rather superficial and yielded few results as at first the urge for modernization was too powerful. It was only at the second stage of national mythology, nation and folk culture building, after gaining independent statehood in 1918, that folkloristic movement in Estonia reached its heyday. With high and low tides alternately, it has continued up to the present time. The dynamics of the National Narrative changed its course also in Estonia: the national "great moments" had remained in the past, and, according to Michael Billig, the phase of "banal nationalism" set in, with a view to the past but applied at the service of practical present activities. In the course of modernization the pre-national state culture and circumstances disappear from reality and move over to the fixed museological sphere – museums, archives, different institutions. The cultural memory of the Estonians is studied more thoroughly, it is engaged at the service of politics or becomes a sales object.
The process of the formation of Estonian folk culture as a scientific category as well as its rather lengthy one-sided research has been tightly connected with the ethnology of Nordic countries. It could be said that Estonian folk science is actually the child of Nordic ethnology. Here we can only observe a time shift due to local circumstances. While in Nordic ethnology the need carried by the modern positivistic idea to systematize the collected cultural treasures into scientific framework became actualized already in the 2nd half of the 19th century, in Estonia ethnology was developed and started to be taught at the University of Tartu only after gaining independence, in the 1920s-1930s.
In 1919, in the Republic of Estonia, the University of Tartu became an Estonian university. Certainly special attention was attached to national sciences and the creation of respective professorships. As there were no Estonian specialists, researchers were invited from abroad, often from Finland. Already in 1919 the Chair of Estonian and Comparative Folklore was founded, and W. Anderson, professor of Baltic German origin, became Head of the Chair in 1920. In 1920 the professorship of archaeology was established and professor A. M. Tallgren from Finland was invited to the post. He paid great attention to the Estonian National Museum (ENM) and emphasized the idea that it should become an institution for research, a basis for the students of folk life studies and for the training of museum workers. His idea was put into practice in 1922 when a Finnish ethnologists Ilmari Manninen was offered the post of the director at the ENM, and was also considered to be well-qualified for reading a course in ethnography at the University of Tartu. His main task was to compile and complete the collections at the ENM. He did it, following the example of both the systems of the National Museum of Finland and the Nordiska museet, and successfully managed his task, turning the ENM into the leading Estonian museum. For its excellent systematizing, preservation and collection completion systems the museum deserved an unofficial recognition in the Soviet Union as an apogee of museological work. With his methodologically persistent and fruitful research I. Manninen also laid the foundation to the study of Estonian folk culture and, as a docent in 1924-1928 (the professorship was founded only in 1938), also to teaching it at the University of Tartu. Like at the Nordiska museet, the only centre of teaching and research was the museum and this continued also during the Soviet period. As ethnography was, above all, a collecting science, which, through rescue operations was trying to document old peasant culture, the special role of the museum is certainly understandable. I. Manninen’s own scientific research was also typical of a museum worker. His students and, later on, successors F. Linnus, E. Laid and G. Ränk (professor of ethnography in 1939-1944) continued his work. Following the methodology and ideas elaborated by I. Manninen, they established close contacts with the then Swedish leading ethnology centre – the Nordiska museet – and its distinguished leader Sigurd Erixon.
The folk culture constructed by the cultural elite in many respects defined the basics of the new academic field of research that had started to develop in Estonia. Here the national-political discourse has played an important role. Like in the Nordic countries and Germany, the name of the new discipline folk scince also signified that not the whole folk culture but only its peasant part was the object of research. The concrete research was based on the theories of evolutionism, diffusionism and relict studies. The main idea was to give a possibly exact description of the significant elements of Estonian peasant culture, to find out the development stages and the origin and to determine distribution borders on the basis of the comparatively incomplete and fragmentary historical material. Description and classification were based on the typological as well as cultural-historical method and followed exact ethnographical terminology. At the same time the interpretation of cultural phenomena was characterized by indefiniteness at the level of notions characteristic of scientific-systematizing ethnology, and a stereotypical treatment of folk culture as a homogeneous and timeless creation developed in a vague past and in a socially harmonious peasant community. In addition to that Estonian ethnology focused, following the objectives set by I. Manninen, above all on the research of material culture. This Nordic approach resulted in alienation from spiritual culture or folkloristics studying oral tradition, which had been unknown in the early years of the ENM.
However, thanks to the young capable generation of Estonian scientists and their fruitful study and research work, Estonian ethnology grew out of its infancy and reached an internationally accepted level. Moreover, Estonian ethnology achieved the status of an independent field of science and the then classical study and research work based on the best achievements of Nordic ethnology moulded the later Estonian leading ethnologists – G. Ränk, I. Talve, A. Viires, A. Moora, and H. Üprus. The first two of them continued quite successfully in exile, the latter three only started their activities in occupied Estonia.
Estonian ethnologists in exile in Sweden. The war events of the 1940s had a grave influence on Estonian ethnology as the experienced staff – prof. G. Ränk, E. Laid, I. Talve and H. Hagar fled to the West. Fortunately, thanks to S. Erixon, they were all given professional work as archive officials in the framework of an emergence aid project at the Folk Science Institute at the Nordiska museet. Besides translating literature on their speciality, their main work was confined to the compiling of the Swedish ethnographical atlas ( out of 68 maps in the atlas, 13 were compiled by Estonians, and E. Laid was also the secretary of the editorial board). Apart from it, E. Laid (in 1952) and I. Talve (in 1960) also defended their doctoral theses. Later on G. Ränk became a docent at the University of Stockholm, H. Hagar founded a liquor history museum and I. Talve moved to Finland where he became the first ethnology professor at Turku University in the years 1962-1986.
As the native material was mostly inaccessible for those in exile, they actually became Nordic ethnologists. Much of their research, which was especially voluminous and conspicuous in the case of G. Ränk and I. Talve, was shadowed by Erixon’s "research plant" or was collected into scientific archives. The research by Estonian exile ethnologists was carried out in the framework of the comparative cultural-historical trend, which was known already from homeland and was also prevailing in Sweden in the days of S. Erixon. G. Ränk’s research was most connected with his native country. Besides his research of international renown, treating North-Eurasian home cult, his monographs on Estonian manor houses, Livonian inns and Baltic farm buildings written on the basis of archival materials found in Sweden are especially important. I. Talve’s research extended towards the understanding of the meaning of the social milieu and the world of ideas and had connection with different aspects of Finnish cultural phenomena. Although from the point of view of modern Nordic ethnology their research has been considered as a borderland phenomenon without any real influence on the general development of science, it is namely the diverse, meaningful, source-critical works based on extensive comparative analysis written by G. Ränk, I. Talve and also A. Viires, a leading figure in Soviet ethnography with republican-time schooling, that have permanent value in Estonian ethnology.
Ethnography in Soviet Estonia – changing or not? During the Soviet period, the time critical for Estonian national and cultural identity, the meaning of Estonian folk culture research and its normative symbols became more remarkable. However, this folk culture played a controversial role as it was at the service of antagonistic ideologies: on the one hand, it was the carrier of the idea of the dream national state and a means of opposition; on the other, it actually also served the hypocritical Soviet folklorism. At the same time Estonian culture did not remain untouched by the theories of intellectualism, American conceptualism, and philosophical tendencies in profound cognition of everyday phenomena, as well as the progress of communication theory, which had started in the world in the 1960s.
In general, the Soviet period did not favour the development of Estonian ethnography, neither at the ideological, nor at the scientific-political level. From here on we can also observe essential divergence from Nordic ethnology where in the 1960s basic paradigmatical changes occurred. Soviet Estonian ethnography was still mainly based on the treatment of culture formed during the Republic of Estonia.
The closing of the Chair of Ethnology and the disappearance of experienced researchers put an end to the academic traditions of the discipline. Limited studies were separated from research. The sphere of science institutionally split into ethnography and folkloristics had become second-rate, which was also emphasized by the treatment of ethnography as a science ancillary to history.
The tzarist-time name – ethnography - started to be used for the discipline, which, referring to descriptiveness, showed the way culture should have been studied. Ethnographers fulfilling the political, not social order, had to follow the hypocritical, ideological cultural slogan – "Socialist in contents and national in form" – and deal with the past cultural phenomena (relics) and cultural contacts, preferably Russian. The new trend in the context of western ethnology to study different social strata, especially the poor, and the processes of the creation of contemporary culture, i.e., the developing of a happy socialist/Soviet people - also bore the imprint of a political order. Fortunately, this propagandistic trend did not evoke much reponse among Estonian ethnographers. Some individual attempts based on descriptive methods made in the research of the collective farmers’ and working people’s culture did not yield particular results in the personality-defying treatment of culture. Forced isolation from the outer world, difficult accessibility to newer scientific literature, lack of system and the inconceivability of using it resulted in theoretical-methodological backwardness. Therefore problem and human-centered cultural analytical research trends did not evoke much response in Estonia, and the people’s social and behavioural culture as well as their imaginative world remained completely unstudied.
Estonian ethnographers protected themselves from the pressure of the Marxist dogmatism with certain passiveness, as well as avoiding ordered research and dealing with historical ethnography based on the comparative historical-geographical method. A number of successful researches by A. Viires, A. Moora, G. Troska, J. Linnus, A. Luts, K. Kirme, A. Voolma, L. Vahtre, were published in this field. Generally, however, spontaneous lack of theories, forced selections, one-sidedness of aspects, descriptiveness and the utmost slowness in publishing prevailed. Certain innovations occurred with great difficulty. Considering the widening of historical dimension, social-economical differentiation and social-historical context concentrated attention to other social stratification layers besides peasants – artisans and fishermen. Certain approach to the new research trends establishing themselves in the European ethnology of the 1960s was noticeable. The modern notions such as small community, everyday life and sub-culture, interaction, and communication were not used; however, by observing the dynamic cultural processes, the ethnologists came up with the processes and principles of culture creation, culture creators themselves and cultural communication.
Beginning from the 1960s contacts with Finnish ethnologists again started to play an essential role in the modernization of Estonian ethnology. Besides literature exchange, seminars and joint publications, a few joint research projects were launched in the framework of Soviet-Finnish scientific-technical cooperation commission in 1970-1991. In additon to the studies of the Finno-Ugric topics and the ones treating the beginning of village/town modernization processes, a parallel research of the Finnish and Estonian (Loviisa-Võru) contemporary urban family was launched on the basis of a unified programme in 1988-1991.
So, on the one hand, in the Estonian Soviet-time quite voluminous ethnographical research the borders of the traditional ethnography were extended, above all, towards source-criticism, analyticism and the expansion of subject matter as well as diversification; on the other, changes in discourse were also noticeable. A direct indicator was also the activity of Tartu University semiotic school led by Juri Lotman. After regaining independence, when the framework of traditional Estonian ethnology was broken, it all enabled to make a quite fast breakthrough to modern human-centered cultural analysis.
Innovations in Estonian ethnology. The regaining of independence in Estonia brought about serious changes of paradigm in Estonian ethnology. This was concerned with the restoration of academic study and research work at the University of Tartu, specification of the diverse roles of the ENM as well as essential rearrangement of it all.
The third self-reflexive phase characteristic of post-modernistic society in the building of Estonian national culture created a favourable ground for innovations. At this stage the double national narrative was created, with the nostalgic craving for the past on one level and questioning it, degrading history ("end of history") on the other. The restructuring of the former mythological fields and adding new ones began. In Estonian cultural space this process was connected not only with the concrete universal late nationalist situation, but was partially due to the fresh independent statehood: power exchange results in the revision of earlier history and shifts in relations. For example, the binary opposing pair – uneducated Estonian working slave / German ruler – is not suitable for integrating Europe. Now the essential vision is the common Estonian home created by both Estonians and Baltic Germans. At the same time the mythological capacity of the "good old Swedish time" is diminishing as it lacks colourful pillars: great heroes and deeds creating identity. In smaller dimensions, however, common features are found over and over again (e.g., the restoration of Gustav Adolf’s statue next to the main building of Tartu University), due to which the basic dimension has still remained topical. At the same time a powerful mythological status is obviously attributed to the Soviet period. This is the requirement of the development logic of the national narrative and, at the banal level, gusts of nostalgia are already noticeable. Against the background of the inconsistency and fragmentarization of the post-modernistic society the issues of the mosaic renewal of Estonian ethnology, the diversity of problems and the complexity of choice-making, become understandable.
In 1992, after a 50-year interval, the Chair of Ethnology was restored in the framework of the Chair of Estonian History. By the widely spread European tradition and because of the willingness to distance oneself from the Soviet-time ethnography, the new name for the science, presuming a depth analysis of culture – ethnology – was taken into use. The newly established chair and also the ENM instantly recognized the necessity to liquidate the theoretical-methodological backwardness to reach an internationally acceptable level. In order to do that, previous research was given critical consideration, and, as a result, an extensive survey of the existing ethnography research was published in the collection "Estonian Folk Culture" 1998. As modern cultural studies are based on the analysis of people’s experience and world views, special emphasis has been laid on the problems of documenting the present time, its methods both in study and research work. The ENM has also started to rearrange the existing principle of "collecting for the sake of collecting". Recently more and more attention has been paid to acquiring the best experience of the SAMDOK system, which has successfully been operating in Sweden and has changed the overall mentality at museums, on the principle "Work today for tomorrow". The further aims set took into consideration the present and future needs of Estonian ethnology. Here almost everything had to be started from scratch. Fortunately, we were supported by the best achievements of the western ethnological thought due to which transition to the new – at least acquiring it, but also already applying it – has occurred comparatively quickly and painlessly.
All these new tendencies have already found expression in research work. The ethnologists who avoided studying the present because of the Soviet propaganda, lacked the experience of studying contemporary everyday life. Also, the collection of the corresponding empirical material presumes long-time careful and persistent work. So initial progress was made in object research, in the sphere of its re-interpretation. The contents and objectives of the doctoral theses are especially scope and depth. They focus, first and foremost, on collecting ample empirical material reflecting near past and present, as well as its analysis on the basis of the theories and methods of modern ethnology. For example, A. Kannike’s doctoral thesis "Home as a Social Space in Contemporary Estonia. Consumption-Anthropological Perspective" inspired by Scandinavian cultural analysis, has set the aim not only to determine the typical Estonian home in socialist and post-socialist society, but also to find out how different social groups adapt themselves to the modern urban environment and how they use the possibilities offered by the public sphere to develop their personal space – home. E. Kõresaar’s doctoral thesis "Biography, Culture and Memory" treats of a sphere hardly studied in Estonia: the relations between an individual’s life and the imaginative world. On the basis of oral and written biographies originating from the older generation of Estonians the author analyses people’s experience and evaluations as well as the way people give meaning to their life in the changing social, historical and political context. T. Anepaio’s project "Back in Estonia. Adaptation of the Repressed in the E.S.S.R." based on empirical process analysis is going to deal with the repressed, their adaptation to alienated, although their own, totalitarian society according to both their own understanding and the attitude of the surrounding society.
Also, several extensive research projects have been launched, e.g., a joint project with archaeologists and folklorists "Processes of Everyday Culture in Estonia in Historical and Contemporary Perspective". At present projects like "Home as a Cultural Factor", "Memory as a Cultural Factor", and "The Identity of Arctic Cultures", etc. are under way in different phases. In spite of financial and other difficulties of the transition period, publishing activities have become more lively and diverse in Estonian ethnology.
Problems and research perspectives. The list of reasearches presented above is not too long. Besides subjective reasons there are also several objective ones. Due to fundamental modernization processes occurring in Estonian ethnology, the older generation of researchers has somewhat withdrawn. The younger ones lack adequate experience and some of them are overloaded with the new tendencies in teaching and museological work. The new contemporary cultural aspects require voluminous collection of empirical material as well as its interpretation. Requalifiction and aquiring huge quantities of information is also time-consuming, as is its application At present Estonian ethnology is in the transition period from Soviet ethnography to the western diverse dynamic and systematic human-centered ethnology. To reach a new phase and a realistic nation, to unveil different aspects of its behaviour, experience and world view, as well as life styles and culture created in the course of its life, both in diachronic and synchronic perspective, still requires great effort. Bearing in mind further perspectives, and proceeding from this context, a number of fundamental issues have yet to be solved.
In the development of new research traditions three questions are essential: first – is it necessary to focus on one’s home territory, i.e., Estonia; and second - on present time, or to deal with faraway, different culture and time-distanced past on the basis of archival sources. The third issue is especially important: selecting from among pluralist theories and methods. In any case, research results must not depend on methods, i.e., we have to avoid circumstances where methods contain potential answers a priori. We live in the era where even the paradigmatical renewal and plurality of conceptual trends in western ethnological thought have caused several critical conclusions. Therefore we also have to learn from past experience and aquire the best part of it. In comparison with those who have gone through the painful changing process from the 1960s to the present time, our position is even somewhat better. Relying on the ideas, theories and methods of the recognized Scandinavian cultural analysts, Anglo-American social anthropologists, German cultural sociologists, ethnologists and historical anthropologists, civilization and mentality historians, we are trying to avoid the decades-long development process European ethnology has gone through. In modern history, sociology and anthropology-orientated, empirically working ethnology the problems and approaches of humanitarian and social sciences intertwine and their range can be as versatile and meaningful as is culture and people’s everyday life with its different aspects. The diffused borders between discourses, vagueness, and less articulation can be felt in the choices and works of young Estonian ethnologists of today. However, on the one hand, the essential principles of modern ethnology – contextual treatment, procedural observation, analyticism, basedness on theory, and problem-centredness – are taking root; on the other, the Scandinavian self-reflexive, "soft" method of culture analysis which enables through culture patterns and systematic description of processes to create systematic knowledge of self-evident everyday culture, seems to be gaining ground.
When determining the identity of Estonian ethnology, we have, considering the limited scientific potential and the great number of unsolved scientific problems, to focus mainly on domestic issues: culture creation processes of different social groups and culture communication. Also it is important to analyse everyday culture and mentality of the local Russian community. We should not repeat the mistake made with Coastal Swedes and Baltic Germans who were left unstudied. Quite a few issues concerning past cultural phenomena have remained unclear, and this can happen again nowadays. The romantic strivings of the young and their interest in faraway cultures should mostly be directed to Finno-Ugric peoples. Here the abundance of the collected (unfortunately somewhat one-sided) material, familiarity with the context, knowledge of Russian and availability of literature create prerequisites for important achievements, as has already been testified by A. Leete’s and L. Niglas’s scientific work focused on reflexive anthropology.
Besides the "Estonian cause" we should prefer the problems of the many-featured culture, the present post-modernistic dispersed society, its inner logic, which, up to now, has remained unstudied, as well as the problems of the creation and consumption of this culture, and the ones of different life-styles. The present unique status, a borderline situation in the stratifying Estonian society and paradigmatic changes in value discourse, offers many possibilities for the comparative analysis of both the process itself, changing life-styles and everyday milieu, destruction of myths and the creation of new ones, as well as the differences in social belonging, self-determination, ways of thinking, and value priorities, and also, what is substantial in culture and what are the prevailing cultural manifestations. Besides the modern developing consumption society we should thoroughly study the Soviet time everyday life, its progress, basic and iconic symbols, metaphores and rituals, the vagueness of self-consciousness, role plays and behavioural patterns, dual morale and the like, which would explain in a more concrete way the things that happened to us in the Soviet time, what was substantial in the culture of that period and how this time is acquiring mythological status. This sphere has also aroused interest in other parts of the world.
It is also obvious that work should be continued in historical perspective. Culture without continuity is nonsense; however, continuity or tradition should be viewed not as a material basis, but as one possible aspect in the historical process. A dialogue between the subject matters of different temporal extent enables us to use historical approach as a means of studying the present time and vice versa. Also it creates new strategies for treating cultural identities in the extensive international interdisciplinary discussion. In order to get free from the inconsistent and indefinite historicism, we have to focus on thorough elaboration of archival sources. However, when interpreting these sources, we have to proceed from the aspects of historical anthropology.
In spite of rather lengthy and close contacts with the Nordic countries, Estonian ethnologists have, due to the thin cultural layer, continuous crises of the 20th century and the Soviet camplife , mostly dealt with the issues of the 19th and the 1st half of the 20th century. It is only now that the possibilities of the adequate cultural analysis of the globalizing world have become a self-evident part of Estonian ethnology. Certainly the mere fact itself will not automatically raise us on an internationally acceptable level. We face the danger to become either the representatives of post-colonial Soviet past exotism or gladiatorial executers of new theories. However, the serious interest and motivation of young Estonian ethnologists, the tempo they have in acquiring the modern achievements of science, the experience of a unique historical situation and their self-evidence in casting aside the inferiority complex inherent to small nations, are all very promising for the future, for the Estonian ethnologists to make themselves audible in the public discussion concerning modern culture.