The 20th AABS Conference on Baltic Studies entitled “Re-Imagining the Baltic Region: Perspectives on the Past, Present, and Future” took place in Washington, DC June 15 - 17 at George Washington University.
The Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (AABS) is an international educational and scholarly nonprofit organization established in 1968 with the purpose of promoting research and education in Baltic Studies. Its activities include sponsorship of meetings and conferences for the exchange of scholarly views and the promotion and evaluation of research in Baltic studies.
With the participation of over 200 scholars from Australia, Norway, USA, St. Petersburg, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Canada, Great Britain, Sweden, Germany, Hungary, Switzerland, Finland and Japan the conference offered seminars on topics in literature, history, advancing Baltic studies, sociology, political science, communications and education, linguistics, religion, business and economics. Subjects of discussion ranged from the ‘Baltic National Assemblies During the Revolution of 1905' to ‘Tradition, Memory and Identity’ to ‘Contemporary Baltic Security Issues’.
Among the Estonian presenters were: Olevi Arens (Armstrong Atlantic State University) “Non-Recognition to Normalcy: U.S. Policy Toward the Baltic States from Versailles Through the 1920's”; Peter Priit Aruvald (University of Toronto) “Arrests and Deportations in Estonia, June 14, 1941: History and Memory”; Johan Eeland (Sörderstörn University College) “The Farmer in Full - The Ideal of the Farmer and Citizen in Early Estonian Agrarianism’; Ain Haas (Indiana University at Indianapolis) “The Process of Return Migration to the Baltic Countries”; Mirjam Hinrikus (Under/Tuglas Literary Research Centre, Tallinn) “‘Young Estonians’ and the Experience of Modernity”; Ellen Karm (University of Washington) “Environmental Impacts of the Russian-German Underwater Gas Pipeline”; Andres Kasekamp (University of Tartu) “The War of Monuments in Estonia”; Tiina Kirss (University of Toronto) “The Correspondence of Jakob Hurt and Kaarle Krohn”; Jüri Kivimäe (University of Toronto) “Manor Burning in Estonia 1905"; Kats Kivistik (University of Tartu) “Political Support and Political Sophistication in the Baltic States”; Janika Kronberg (Estonian Literary Museum, Tartu) “Comparing the Fates of the ‘Young Estonian’ Movement”; Kristin Kuutma (University of Tartu) “Maintenance of Ethnic Identities and the Politics of Heritage”; Marin Laak (Estonian Literary Museum, Tartu) “Cultural Units of Kalevipoeg; Eneken Laanes (Under/Tuglas Literary Research Centre, Tallinn) “Ene Mihkelson’s The Dream of Ahasuerus”; Ilse Lehiste (Ohio State University) “Prosodic Allomorphs in the Estonian Case-Inflectional System”; Kadri Lühiste (University of Tartu) “Support for Strongman Rule in New Democracies: Evidence from the Baltic States”; Arne Merilai (University of Toronto) “Viivi Luik: A Model for ‘Soviet’ Estonian Literature”; Anneli Mihkelev (Under/Tuglas Literary Research Centre, Tallinn) “Baltic Memory on Poetry”; Sirje Olesk (Estonian Literary Museum, Tartu) “The New Beginning of Estonian Literature”; Toivo Raun (Indiana University) “The All Estonian Congress in Tartu 1905"; Maarja Soo (University of N. Carolina at Chapel Hill) “The Effects of Socioeconomic Characteristics on Post-Secondary Education Choice in Estonia”; Piret Viires (University of Tartu) “Re-Imaging of Estonian Literature in the Post-Modern Era”; Iivi Zajedova (Tallinn University) “Baltic Cooperation”.
According to organizer Daina Stukuls Eglitis the conference saw a record number of graduate students participating in the conference. As well, the conference was notable for the participation of scholars not of Baltic heritage, such as John Hiden, Mel Huang, Joshua Dean, Brent Mackenzie, Glenn Kranking, Mark Hatlie, Delaney Skerret, David Smith and Fredrik Eriksson amongst others. Andrew Blumbergs (University of Melbourne) should also be mentioned for undertaking the trip from Australia to attend the conference. University of Toronto Masters program student Nate Grader’s presentation on absolutism in Scandinavia heralded the efforts of AABS to include in the future the wider arena of Scandinavian studies in its Baltic studies program.
A plenary session and reception at the United States Capitol Building followed the opening day of the conference. Present were the ambassadors of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonian Ambassador Jüri Luik as well as diplomatic representatives of Finland and Sweden.
The keynote speaker at the luncheon on the second day of the conference was former U.S. Ambassador to Lithuania Keith Smith who gave a detailed and refreshingly forthright account of Russia’s present use of energy supplies as a weapon in attempting to force former Soviet republics and satellites into line with its policies. John Hiden was also honoured at the luncheon with the AABS 2006 book prize.
The third day of the conference ended with a book reception and showing of Marcus Kolga’s film “Gulag113" which was warmly received with Marcus Kolga present to answer questions after the screening.
The exceptionally well-organized conference ended with a banquet at the M Street Hotel where outgoing AABS president Toomas Salumets honoured former president Saulius Suziedelis with a certificate of appreciation. Also honoured was University of Toronto’s Chair of Estonian Studies professor Jüri Kivimäe for the organization of the highly successful AABS conference in 2004 in Toronto. Incoming AABS president Inta Carpenter offered thanks to her predecessors and invited all those interested in Baltic studies to attend the next AABS conference in Bloomington, Indiana in 2008.
Over 200 scholars at 20th AABS conference (2)