Religion and nation: are Estonians the most pagan people in Europe?
Tõnno Jonuks (Estonian Literary Museum)
Paper short abstract:
The paper will study how prehistoric religion has been used in creating the national identity of Estonians during the last few decades. There has been substantial effort to show that Estonians have kept alive the echo of pre-Christian religion, which makes the nation unique in European perspective.
Paper long abstract:
Already from the early years of studying of Estonian religion a paradigm was settled that differently from the Indo-European nations in Europe the Finno-Ugric people are different - their world-view is more static and conservative, their religion does not comprise agressive male pantheon, etc. This view, largely based on personal preferences and national situation of the early 20th century has affected strongly the way of studying religion during the following century. It has become especially visible during the last decade in the activity of a neopagan movement called Maavalla Koda (The House of Earth Religion). I will study what kind of arguments have been used to stress the indigenous essence of this religious movement and I am especially interested in the relationship of the nationalism of Estonians and the modern view of pre-Christian religion. Although the House itself argues to be not the representative of an official religion, it could be followed how the folk religion from the late 19th-early 20th century (as its main source and inspiration) is changing its form and becoming closer to a doctrinal mode of religiosity and thus heavily influencing the national identity of the present-day people.
The edgy Northern European imaginaries: cultural identity through the looking glass of fabulous ancestors and ludic realities