Thesis supervisor: prof Eero Medijainen.
Opponent: prof Kari Alenius (Oulun Yliopisto).
Modern states quite frequently face challenges in ensuring not only the functioning of their administrative systems and the safeguarding of their territorial security, but also achieving a certain social, political and cultural uniformity in a society which is often fragmented or even consists of ethnic groups that are antagonistic towards one another. Therefore, central authorities, as a rule, are constantly dealing with (tension-prone) state- and nation-building. This PhD thesis explores the ethnopolitical conflicts in the re-independent Estonia which were connected to these processes. The aim of the research is to define the general features of post-Communist Estonia’s nation-building and to demonstrate the main official means governmental circles used and the difficulties they encountered in the field. Within its so-called demographic dimension, the practices of Estonian migration policies are examined. The language, education and information policy spheres are observed from the cultural perspective of nation-shaping alongside attempts to symbolically Estonianise public space. When analysing aspects of state-building, the main focus is on regional and economic initiatives with an ethnic undertone. The subject of north-eastern Estonian separatism is also examined in greater detail, seeking answers to the questions: How strong were these tendencies? What form did they take? Where did they spring from? And in what way were they counteracted? The results of this dissertation indicate that for different reasons, Estonia’s nationalising policies were relatively protective and pre-emptive to ethnic Others, especially in the 1990s. By the start of the new millennium Estonia had moved from largely exclusive politics to a more inclusive kind, because of both external and internal incentives. However, the nature of politics generally remained rather ‘ethnically controlled’. Its impact on Estonia’s nation-building objectives can be regarded as multi-faceted, varying across sectors.