Professor Daniel Sävborg, University of Tartu
Professor emeritus Sverker Oredsson, University of Lund, Sweden
Professor emeritus Aleksander Loit, University of Stockholm, Sweden
Professor Olavi Arens, Armstrong State University, USA
The main aim of this dissertation is to investigate how its two objects of research - Estonian Nordic identity and the World War I-era Estonian activist regionalism - were related to each other. More particularly, it is a study of how the idea of Estonia's Nordic identity took form in the context of early Estonian nationalism (Article I), what kind of political expression it found in the activities of Aleksander Kesküla and other Estonian activists during World War I (Article II), and finally, how this period of wartime "émigré intrigue" failed to be integrated into "official" Estonian foreign politics and diplomacy, emerging in 1917-18 (Article III).
In the articles included in the dissertation, these specific questions are given detailed answers. However, another and at least as important outcome of this study is the formulation of these questions themselves: the creation of a factual and interpretative basis for making them relevant and answerable. This is reflected in the fact that much of the overview article of this dissertation is allocated to a presentation of a unified theoretical framework, based on the articles, but is now more coherent and more easily applicable, making explicit the author's theoretical assumptions and facilitating research into similar issues in the future.
The methodological approach used in the dissertation is a combination of political and cultural history, which means that I suggest cultural explanations for political developments and - vice versa - political explanations for features of cultural identity. A novel contribution to the historical research is the attempt to understand the political activities of Aleksander Kesküla and other Estonian activists during World War I as expressions of a certain aspect of early Estonian nationalism - the Estonian Nordic identity. At the same time, this identity itself is understood as an important and integral feature of the Estonian nationalism as a political ideology and movement, which even in hindsight should not be discarded as simply a product of romanticism or wishful thinking.