Accepted paper:

Images of home in the memories of Estonian expatriates

Authors:

Marleen Metslaid (Estonian National Museum)

Paper short abstract:

Estonian National Museum has collected materials from Estonians living abroad since the end of the 1990s. One way of understanding their motives and lives is to analyse their memories of home-making and the concept of homeland in the stories of expatriates.

Paper long abstract:

Estonian National Museum has collected materials from Estonians living abroad since the end of the 1990s, mostly memories and life stories, both from those who fled after the WW2 and their descendants, and those who have emigrated since the end of the 1980s. The museum archives and mediates their stories to become a part of Estonian history and heritage. The interest in emigrants' stories has been growing as almost every Estonian nowadays has relatives or friends who had moved away from homeland. To propose the understanding of emigrated Estonians' motives and lives, the museum can analyse and exhibit their experiences. It has circulated focus group questionnaires, ethnologists have conducted life story interviews, and distinct items have been collected to the ENM. In these stories and artefacts, the theme of dwelling and home has been one of the main concerns, as this is inherent to all people. In the paper, I'm interested in emigrated Estonians memories of creating home abroad, making oneself feel home, their understanding of the concept of homeland, as these come out from the materials archived at the museum. I would also like to delve into the question of ENM as a home for materials of Foreign Estonians, and how it mediates their life experiences to the public.

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Dwelling in the cultural archives I: traces, experiences and meanings