JAANUS PLAAT (ETF) 2007-2009
Main executors of the research project: Mariann Raisma, Riina Reinvelt, Marge Laast
The main goal of the work is to conduct an interdisciplinary examination of Orthodox believers and Orthodox churches in Estonia from the 18th century to
the present day. The research on Orthodoxy in Estonia during the second half of
the 20th century and the early 21st century is based primarily on ethnographic, and partly sociological, fieldwork and data analysis. The examination of the earlier history of Orthodoxy in Estonia is based primarily on archival materials and the investigation of other sources and literature.
During the fieldwork, the following topics are being examined: the relationship between religion and identity; the relationship between Orthodox believers and the
representatives of other denominations; the relations between the two Orthodox
churches in Estonia and with the state; the fate of the Orthodox churches
during the Soviet period and in re-independent Estonia; the percentage and
numbers of Orthodox believers in Estonia today; and the attitude of
non-believers regarding the problems of Orthodox believers and others. During
the fieldwork, the objective is to collect both oral and written information
from the respondents (with the help of interviews and surveys) and also
archival information about the Orthodox churches in Soviet Estonia and today. The
interviews will also try to determine the impact of Orthodoxy on individuals.
J. Plaat’s planned monograph dealing with the recent past and present day is based primarily on ethnological and sociological sources. The approach to the history of Orthodoxy and the Orthodox Church between the 18th and 20th century focuses primarily on historical sources. In addition to the main executors of the projects, students from the Estonian Academy of Arts are also participating in the fieldwork. One of the most important sub-themes of this interdisciplinary grant project focuses on Orthodox churches as structures. We wish to
document all the Orthodox churches and chapels in Estonia (including Petserimaa) – be they churches that are active today or ones that have been in ruins since the
Soviet period — by photographing, filming and mapping them.
Based on the various aspects of art history, architecture and religious history, one of the outputs of the documentation of the Orthodox churches and chapels will be a photo album, with scientific comments, which includes archival photos of
Orthodox churches starting from the 18th century (texts J. Plaat; editors
M. Raisma and J. Plaat; photos T. Noorits, A. Maasik, L. Lepik, M. Raisma, J. Plaat,
R. Reinvelt, and others; maps L. Lepik and AS Regio).
The second publication is comprised of the following: two monographs (R. Reinvelt, Minu ja sinu Narva. Oma ja võõras sotsiaalse muutumise kontekstis (PhD thesis); and Jaanus Plaat, Õigeusklikud ja õigeusu kirikud Eestis 18.-21. sajandil.),
research articles by the main executors of the project and MA students from the
Academy of Arts related to the topic of the grant project; and a collection of
conference presentations issued as a special edition of the Estonian National
Museum’s series entitled Pro Ethnologia (R. Reinvelt, J. Plaat, M.
Raisma and others).
There are also plans to organise two international conferences in Latvia and Estonia. And to design a website related to Estonian Orthodox churches (M.Raisma, J. Plaat, Estonian Orthodox congregations, and an IT company), which is based on the photographic materials that are either collected during the fieldwork or found in archives.
The website will also include scientific articles written by the project participants
and other researchers of Estonian Orthodoxy. Other plans include a cultural
anthropological film (or films) on Orthodox believers and Orthodox churches in
Estonia in the 21st century (authors and cameramen J. Simm, J. Plaat;
editing M. Selgmäe and J. Simm); and an exhibition called Orthodox Churches
in Estonia from the 18th to 21st Century (compilers and curators R. Reinvelt, M. Raisma, L. Lepik, J. Plaat, T. Noorits, A. Maasik).
In 2009, after the exhibition at the Estonian National Museum closes, there are plans to take it to other locations in Estonia and abroad. One of the most important goals of the fieldwork is to collect items, photos and audio-visual material for the
Estonian National Museum’s collection and also to supplement the National
Museum’s written archives with writings provided by the Museum’s correspondents or people discovered during the fieldwork.