Date of Award:

2016

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Political Science

Advisor/Chair:

Colin Flint

Abstract

Estonian national identity is defined by its centuries-long struggle for
independence and autonomy. This thesis examines this struggle and resulting identity through the lens of the laulupidu, or song festival, and its employment as a vehicle of political mobilization and re-constructor of Estonian history. Regarding folklore, in this case festivals and folk songs, as containers of the soul of the nation, I show how Estonians have produced and reproduced their national identity through the practice which they hold sacred: choral singing. I implemented a critical geopolitical approach coupled with Billig’s concepts of ‘hot’ and banal nationalism, and Paasi’s focus on independence, to study the 2014 song festival, entitled “Touched by Time. The Time to Touch.” Utilizing the song selection from the 2014 festival and comparing it against the programs from festivals ranging from 1869-2009 (from which selections were gleaned for the 2014 event), this thesis shows how Estonian national identity and historical memory are reconstructed through the symbolic choice of song.

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