Memory Wars and Metanarratives: the Historical Context of Linguistic Discrimination in Estonia

Sonsalla, Chanse
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In the 20th century, the country of Estonia was decimated, terrorized, and subjugated by the USSR. Estonians continue to redefine their national identity, but the process is complicated by the continued presence of ethnic Russians in Estonia. When 30% of a country's population speaks differently, thinks differently, and was once an enemy that instigated an era of terror, how does it rebuild? Language has been a polarizing issue between the ethnic Estonian and ethnic Russian populations as long as both have been present in Estonia. By investigating trends in language policy, this thesis explores the roots of tension between the two groups. The ultimate goal of the thesis is to provide insight into the pitfalls of post-conflict reintegration and the potential of language policy as a discriminatory instrument.

Linguistic discrimination., Estonia., Linguistic human rights., Ethnic inequality., Post-Soviet., Ethnic integration.