Accepted paper:

Aliens with citizenship: integration as a never-ending process and the continuity of the state


Polina Tšerkassova

Paper short abstract:

This paper will address the process of integration of non-Estonian speakers in Estonia as a never-ending process of constant reproduction and domestication of "the Other". It will focus on the complex relations between the Russian-speaking population of Estonia and the fetishised State, addressing the changing rhetorics of the citizenship value.

Paper long abstract:

Incorporating the idea of Michael Taussig on fetish which absorbs what it represents, and the idea of Giorgio Agamben that democracy was born with the need to have a body, I will address the disembodiment and emptiness of the fetishised State which injects the political into the people's lives and bodies. Approaching the process of integration in Estonia from the perspective of a continuous practice I will argue that although Integration Programs have deadlines, the integration process by itself is rather imagined and enacted as a never-ending discourse of constant reproduction and domestication of the "other". This paper will address discrepancies and convergences between two different organisations - one governmental, the other grassroots - that address the issue of Russian minority integration in Estonia. Drawing from the fieldwork conducted in two different non-governmental organisations from 2009 to 2011, I will focus on the changing discourse of citizenship in Estonia, which moves towards a greater flexibility. Finally, the paper will elaborate on the reasons why the Russian-speaking population of Estonia is addressed as "the Other" but not as a "minority" by the state authorities, as well as by the Russian-speakers themselves.

panel W057
"The Other" and the de-fetishization of the state