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„Baltic Educational Histories. Interdisciplinary conference“  University of Tartu 19.-22.09.2016

Organizers: Jürgen Joachimsthaler (Marburg), Silke Pasewalck (Tartu) in cooperation with the Baltic-German Network for German Studies

Funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media upon a Decision of the German Bundestag

Ajalehte lugev meesOskar Hoffmann (1902): Der Zeitungsleser. Quelle: , EKM j 36265 M 6163, Eesti Kunstimuuseum SA, http://muis.ee/museaalView/248150 

The Baltic region holds a key position in terms of “education”: Through factors such as trade, Christianisation, the wars waged by the chivalric orders, and the importation of laws, the autochthonous peoples of the Baltic region were exposed to cultural, linguistic, and political influences of varying degrees. In this way, they were subjected to formative processes which are frequently compared with colonial practices. The cultures (German, Danish, Polish, Swedish, and Russian) which played a dominating role in the region established a wide array of economic, legal, religious, and cultural institutions; an army of specialists (officials, lawyers, clergymen, writers, teachers) was enlisted in order to firmly entrench their power—not least in the consciousness of the dominated peoples. To this end, and due to the post-Reformation requirement to use the native language, many of these specialists had to engage with the local cultures and languages. In the domains of journalism, literature, and academia, this led to greater reflection on the various Baltic languages and ethnic groups, and on the asymmetrical structural tensions between the dominant and subordinate cultures. The aim of the official legislation and cultural activity was to ensure the cultural and social survival of the ruling minorities. This state of affairs led to an extraordinary concentration of educational initiatives in the Baltic region, the effects of which were sometimes visible across Europe. If a deeply grounded colonial dimension of the German cultural history could be demonstrated, then here. In the cultural centres of power, scholars who had been integrated into the social order—often after having risen from a farming background—began to elaborate, from within the midst of and with the means of, but ultimately against, the dominant educational paradigms, conceptions of the distinctive cultural character of the various Baltic linguistic communities. From the time of the first “national awakening,” this was accompanied by the internal formation of the Baltic peoples, who often manifested symptoms of an “internal colonisation”.

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