Orthodox People in Estonia and Orthodox Churches in Estonian Landscape (18th–21st Century)

The main goal of the project is to conduct an inter-disciplinary study of the Orthodox people and Orthodox churches in Estonia since the 18th c. The study of the Orthodoxy in Estonia during the second part of the 20th c. and in the beginning of the 21st c. is based on ethnological (and sociological) fieldwork and data analysis. The period before the Soviet occupation will be studied using historical methods and archive sources. The fieldwork concentrates on the religion and identity, mutual relationships of Orthodox and other people and other denominations in Estonia. The attitudes toward Orthodox by Non-Orthodox are also to be taken into account. The goal of the fieldwork is to collect oral information and archival data of religious life of Orthodox in the Soviet Estonia and today. The research undertaken will also focus on the influence of the Orthodoxy on an individual. The main aim of the J. Plaat’s planned monograph is to present a historical study of the Orthodoxy and Orthodox churches in Estonia in the 18th-20th centuries and the more ethnological and sociological treatment of the topic in the beginning of the 21st century. The students of the Estonian Academy of Arts will also participate in fieldwork.

Another part of the project will focus on churches as buildings. We will try to map and investigate Orthodox churches (be they working churches or in ruins from Soviet times) from architectural, historical and geographical point of view. We want to document (using photo, video and mapping) all the Orthodox churches and chapels in Estonia, including those in Petserimaa across the border with Russia. One result of this work would be a scientifically commented photo album of Estonian Orthodox churches and tsässons, where we also use the photos from archives (author of texts J. Plaat, compiled by M. Raisma and J. Plaat, photos by professional photographers T. Noorits, A. Maasik, and L. Lepik, J. Plaat and others; maps by L. Lepik, Regio). Other planned publications include two monographs: R. Reinvelt, “My Narva and Yours. Own and Foreign in the Context of Social Change.” (doctoral thesis); J. Plaat, “Orthodox People and Orthodox Churches in Estonian Landscape in the 18th–20th C”; the collection of papers from two international conferences of the project in the series “Pro Ethnologia”; other articles by senior personnel and students involved in the project. Other goals of the project include two international conferences in Latvia and Estonia, exhibition in the Estonian National Museum „Orthodox Churches in Estonia in the 18th–21st Century“ (compilers and curators T. Noorits, A. Maasik, R. Reinvelt, M. Raisma, L. Lepik, J. Plaat), and anthropological film(s) about Estonian Orthodox people and Orthodox churches in the 21th c., which will be produced out of the audio-visual material filmed during fieldwork (authors J. Simm, J. Plaat). The creation of a webpage about Estonian Orthodox churches is also planned (M. Raisma, J. Plaat, Estonian Orthodox congregations, IT company), which is based on the photo material collected from archives and photos taken during fieldwork and scientific text material from participants in the project and other researchers of Estonian orthodoxy. In the framework of the field studies, one goal is to collect objects, photos, audio-visual and archive material for the Estonian National Museum and Estonian Academy of Arts.

Principal investigator: Jaanus Plaat

Research staff: Marge Laast, Mariann Raisma, Riina Reinvelt

Duration: 2007–2009

See in the Estonian Research Information System

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Posted by Solveig Jahnke