News & Events



23. May. Project seminar XXII. Discussion on the Polish international law and conceptualization of “self-determination” during the Cold War period. Presented by Dr. Jakub Szumski from Imre Kertesz Kolleg (Friedrich Schiller University of Jena).



12. December. David Ilmar Lepasaar Beecher gave a lecture “Tornide all ja müüride vahel:  Rahvusvahelised suhted üleilmastumise ja dekolonisatsiooni ajastul” at the the students`s association of international relations at the University of Tartu.

7. December. Project seminar XXI. Discussion on Hent Kalmo forthcoming article “Self-Determination in Disgrace. The Paradigm of Estonia”.


Eva Piirimäe gave an invited lecture “Johann Gottfried Herder − baltisaksa filosoof?” [Johann Gottfried Herder − A Baltic German Philosopher?], at the “Baltisaksa Kultuuriselts Eestis” (Society for the Study of the Culture of Baltic Germans in Estonia) at Tallinn Linnaarhiiv.

30. November. Juhan Saharov`s presentation “Forecasting Sovereignty: The Role of Expert Languages during the Perestroika in Soviet Estonia” at the Institute of Contemporary History at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague.

24. November. Project seminar XX. Discussion on two book proposals: Juhan Saharov`s “Forecasting Sovereignty: Estonian Perestroika and the Breakup of the Soviet Union” and Kaarel Piirimäe`s “Assamalla: The Estonian Diplomacy of Survival 1980–1994”.


Eva Piirimäe gave an invited paper “Self-Determination of Peoples in the German Enlightenment” at the conference “Critical Sources of the Global Enlightenment“, organised by Sankar Muthu and Jonas Gerlings, 6.-7. October 2023 at the University of Chicago.

Juhan Saharov gave an invited presentation “Küberneetilised revolutsionäärid: Eesti NSV teadlaskond ja perestroika, 1986-88” [Cybernetic Revolutionaries: Scientists and Estonian Perestroika, 1986-88], 30. October at the Estonian Academy of Arts.

Kadi Kähär-Peterson gave a presentation „Garlieb Merkel – ein Verfechter des allgemeinen Wohls?“ at the conference „Interdisziplinäre deutsch-baltische Nachwuchstagung“, 20. October at the University of Tartu.


Balázs Trencsényi, Professor of History at CEU, have a guest lecture at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, and discussed the current projects of the members of the research group thereafter, 6. September, 2023.

Oliver Rowe gave a presentation “”There is no Russia”: Self-determination and State Recognition during the Russian Revolution and Civil War, 1917-1922″ at the European Consortium for Political Research (ECPR) General Conference Presentation, 5-6. September, 2023 at the Charles University in Prague, .  

Juhan Saharov gave a  presentation “From self-regulation to self-management: Towards comparative history of self concepts in the European space” in the panel “Conceptual histories of Prefixes and Suffixes” at the 24th International Conference of the History of Concepts, 28. September 2023, at the University of Warsaw, .


Research group`s international workshop “National Self-Determination in the Twentieth Century“, organised by Xosé Manoel Núñez Seixas, Eva Piirimäe and Liisi Veski, 28-29 August 2023 at the University of Tartu.

Semyon Reshenin defended his PhD dissertation “Individual Self-Determination in Friedrich Schiller’s philosophy” at the Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics, 22 August 2023 at the University of Tartu, .

Eva Piirimäe published “Herder on the Self-Determination of Peoples“, Review of Politics 85 (2023), 514–537.

Eva Piirimäe gave an interview to Valle-Sten Maiste at the newspaper Sirp

Eva Piirimäe published “Saatesõna: kõnelused omas ajas ja üle aja“, Akadeemia nr. 8 (2023), 46−73.

David Ilmar Lepasaar Beecher organized a seminar “What was the Post-Stalinist Soviet Friendship of the Peoples?”  for doctoral students in the summer school “Disentangling Eurasia: Russian Empire, Soviet Union and Successors”, 4. August, at the University of Tallinn.


David Ilmar Lepasaar Beecher gave a lecture “Culture and Power on the Estonian Edge of the Soviet ‘Semiosphere'” to Dartmouth College students and their Dartmouth Russian literature professor. Dartmouth Summer School, 14. July, University of Tartu.


Book launch of Eva Piirimäe’s Herder and Enlightenment Politics

David Ilmar Lepasaar Beecher (together with Language Policy scholar Kerttu Rozenvalde) presented a paper “The National Language Encounters Soviet Russian and Global English at the University of Tartu”. 15. June, AABS conference in Kaunas.  


Eva Piirimäe gave an invited talk “Herder and the French Revolution”, Enlightenment Workshop at Magdalen College, Oxford

Kadi Kähär-Peterson`s presentation „Mõtte- ja mõisteajaloo kasust ajaloo uurimisel: Garlieb Merkel lätlaste ja sakslaste „kokku sulamisest“. Ajaloo ja arheoloogia doktorantide kevadkonverents, May 23, University of Tartu

Eva Piirimäe gave an invited talk “Self-Determination in German State Theory: Hugo Preuss’s Visions of 1848 and 1918” at London Institute of Historical Research, History of Political Ideas seminar


Kadi Kähär-Peterson talked on Garlieb Merkel in the podcast Rõhk at IDA Radio, 25. April:

Kadi Kähär-Peterson`s presentation „„What would be the effect if Latvians form themselves by using German culture?“: Garlieb Merkel’s View on the Amalgamation of Nations“ at the conference „Historical Processes and Events – Progress or Regression in the History of the Baltic Region“ 13.-14. April, at the Latvian University

Hent Kalmo`s presentation in the workshop „Small State Constitutionalism“,  April 14 at the University of Lisbon. 


17 February. Project seminar XIX. Plans for 2023.



Eva Piirimäe gave a public lecture (in Estonian): “Self-Determination of Peoples – an Ideal or Illusion?”, Rahvusvaheliste Suhete Ring

Eva Piirimäe gave a conference paper (in Estonian): Burgher patriotism in Livonian Enlightenment: Herder and Johann Christoph Berens at the Colloquium for Intellectual History, University of Tartu

Eva Piirimäe gave an invited talk (in Estonian): “Conceptual versus Intellectual History”, Estonian Academy of Art


24 October. Project seminar XVIII. Discussion on Andre Liebich`s book “Cultural Nationhood and Political Statehood” (Routledge).


12 September. Project seminar XVII. Liisi Veski presented her research “The School of Democracy: Co-operation, Civil Society, and Intrastate Federalism in Estonian Intellectual History 1900–1940.”


Eva Piirimäe gave a keynote lecture “Serial Contextualism in Conceptual History?” at the International summer school “Transnational Methods in Intellectual History” at the University of Tallinn

Oliver Rowe gave a presentation “Self-determination in Theory and Practice: The Case of the Russian Empire” in the summer school at the Tallinn University.


16-18 June. WorkshopSelf-Determination, Popular Sovereignty and Visions of World Order: a Long-Term Historical Perspective” in University of Tartu.


29 May. The research group held a panel discussion “Self-Determination in Baltics” at the AABS annual conference “Baltic Studies at a Crossroads” in Seattle, US. See more on the conference at


28 January. Project seminar XVI. Interim retrospectives and future plans.



31 December. Eva Piirimäe published an article in Postimees AK on the concept of the ‘nation-state’ Rahvusriik kui ideaal

17 December. Project seminar XV. David Ilmar Lepasaar Beecher presented a paper “The Post-Stalinist “Friendship of the Peoples” in the Context of National Self-Determination”.

15 December. Juhan Saharov`s doctoral thesis “From Economic Independence to Political Sovereignty: Inventing “Self-Management” in the Estonian SSR” was awarded the main prize at the national contest for the university students in 2021. See more:

9 December. Hent Kalmo and Juhan Saharov presented their papers at the seminar in Tartu “Searching for the Estonian European Constitutional Imaginaries – Sovereignty in Context”, in the framework of the ERC research grant IMAGINE. European Constitutional Imaginaries: Utopias, Ideologies and the Other. See more about the event here:

3-4 December. Eva Piirimäe gave a paper at the international conference “The ‘Crowd’ in History of Political Thought”.


8 November. Project seminar XIV. Semyon Reshenin presented a paper entitled “Barbarism and savagery as obstacles to personal self-determination” (chapter four of his dissertation). James Pearson (Institute of Philosophy and Semioitics) was invited to give a follow-up talk “Crafting the Harmonious Self with Schiller and Nietzsche”.


23 September. Project seminar XIII. Eva Piirimäe and Hent Kalmo presented their new research ideas. The team welcomed three new members: David Ilmar Lepasaar Beecher (PhD, senior researcher), Oliver Rowe (PhD student, supervisor: Eva Piirimäe), Juho Kääriainen (research assistant, MA student, supervisor: David Ilmar Lepasaar Beecher). Andres Reimann has begun studies in the MLitt in Intellectual History programme at the University of St Andrews.


17 August. Juhan Saharov presented a paper at the conference “Cultural heterologies and democracy. Culture in the Baltic countries in the 1990s”, organized by the research grant PRG636 “Patterns of Development in Estonian Culture of the Transition Period 1986–1998″.


30 July. Juhan Saharov gave an interview to the main national newspaper “Postimees”, introducing his doctoral thesis. See the interview here: 


30 June. Juhan Saharov gave an interview to the science portal “Novaator” for introducing the main thesises in his dissertation. See the interview here:

21 June. PhD defence. Juhan Saharov defended his doctoral thesis ‘From Economic Independence to Political Sovereignty: Inventing “Self-Management” in the Estonian SSR’. The opponent of the thesis was Prof. Balázs Trencsényi from the Central European University. For more information on the dissertation, see:

9-10 June. Interdisciplinary Workshop “Enesemääramine – mõiste(d), teooriad, rakendused” (Self-determination – concept(s), theories and applications) (organisers: Eva Piirimäe and Hent Kalmo). For the programme, see:


27 May. Representing Multiculturalism: An Interdisciplinary Conference (organiser: the Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics and the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the University of Tartu), 27-28 May 2021. Eva Piirimäe gave a keynote talk entitled “An Old Wine in a New Bottle? Multiculturalism in Historical Perspective”. For the abstract of the keynote and the programme of the conference, see

26 May. Practical Philosophy Colloquium at the Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics, University of Tartu. David Ilmar Lepasaar Beecher gave a talk entitled “Small Town Cosmopolitanism: Tartu’s Sociological Place in the Intellectual History of Europe.”

21 May. Project Seminar XII, Hent Kalmo presented his article manuscript on “emancipatory history of ideas”.


29 April. Project seminar XI. Eva Piirimäe presented the final chapter (VIII) and the conclusion of her book manuscript on Herder’s political thought.

15 April. Project seminar X. Kaarel Piirimäe presented his article manuscript on George F. Kennan and NATO.


26 March. Project seminar IX. Eva Piirimäe presented chapters VI-VII of her book manuscript on Herder’s political thought.

5 March. Project seminar VIII. Eva Piirimäe presented chapters IV-V of her book manuscript on Herder’s political thought.


5 February. Project seminar VII. Eva Piirimäe presented chapters I-II of her book manuscript on Herder’s political thought.



Eva Piirimäe acted as an Opponent for Jaakko Sivonen’s PhD dissertation ‘Patriotism in an Absolute Monarchy: Fatherland, Citizenship and the Enlightenment in Prussia, 1756-1806’, Helsinki University, December 10 2020 (via zoom),


23 November. The Political Thought and Intellectual History Seminar, University of Cambridge. Eva Piirimäe presented a paper titled ‘Mores, Commerce and Reforms in Russia: Herder’s Response to Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws‘. For the programme of the seminar, see:

23 November. Intellectual History Seminar, University of Tartu. Hent Kalmo presented a paper titled „Biographical illusion and intellectual history“ at Tartu University`s seminar on intellectual history. For the programme of the seminar see:


29 September. Project seminar VI. Eva Piirimäe presented chapter IIi of her book manuscript on Herder’s political thought. Kadi Kähär-Peterson presented her chapter titled ‘Garlieb Merkels Plans of a History of Humanity’.


25 August. Radio broadcast “Tähenduse teejuhid”. Eva Piirimäe discussed Johann Gottfried Herder’s thought with Mihkel Kunnus and Hardo Pajula. the broadcast is available here:


18 June. Project seminar V. Catherine Gibson was invited to present a chapter from her book in-progress, Storytelling Through Maps: Cartography, Science, and Society in the Russian Empire’s Baltic Borderlands, 1820-1920.


21 May. Project seminar IV. Semyon Reshenin presented a paper on Kant and Schiller on individual self-determination. Andres Reimann gave a talk on Judith Shklar on individual self-determination and conscience.


17 April. Project seminar III (on zoom). Kaarel Piirimäe and Juhan Saharov presented papers discussing ideas about political and economic self-determination at the end of the Cold War.

Zoom koosolek


27 February. Project seminar II. Discussion of the project methodology.

17 February. Intellectual History Seminar, Tartu University. Juhan Saharov presented a paper titled „Global science and IME: the concepts of „future scenario“ and „self-regulation“ in public debates in Soviet Estonia (1987-89)” at

February 1. International conference “Tartu rahu 100” (Tartu Peace Treaty 100), Estonian National Museum on February 1th 2020. Kaarel Piirimäe moderated a panel on the historical meaning of Tartu Peace Treaty. For the programme of the conference, see:


27 January. Project seminar I. The kick-off meeting of the (extended) research team:


Above: Jüri Lipping, Kadi Kähär-Peterson, Eva Piirimäe, Hent Kalmo, Kaarel Piirimäe, Andres Reimann
Below: Fred Gregor Rahuoja, Juhan Saharov, David Ilmar Lepasaar Beecher

Hent Kalmo discussed Tartu Peace Treaty (1920) in the Estonian weekly culture newspaper Sirp. See the link to the paper here:


On May 17th 2019, in preparation of the project, the Department of Philosophy and the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies in University of Tartu held an exploratory workshop on the project’s theme (“Self-Determination of Peoples in Historical Perspective”). The event was supported by the Centre of Excellence in Estonian Studies (European Union, European Regional Development Fund). For more information about the event, see

Workshop speakers:

Ben Holland (University of Nottingham), Pufendorf, the Composite Polity, and the Self-Determination of Peoples

Eva Piirimäe (University of Tartu), Self-Determination of Peoples, Popular Sovereignty and (the Principle of) Nationality

Edward Castleton (University of Franche-Comté), Anarchist Anthropologies of the State and the Nation: from Proudhon to Graeber

László Bence Bari (Central European University/ Österreichische Akademie der Wissenschaften), In between Concepts of Freedom: Self-Determination and the Czech(oslovak) National Movement, 1917-1919

Hent Kalmo (University of Tartu), The Myth of the Standard of Civilization

Tom Sparks (Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg), Beyond “Internal” and “External”: Legitimacy and Legality in Self-Determination’s Claims

David Armitage (Harvard University/ Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin), Concluding Remarks