Doctoral defence: Margo Roasto “The land question, ethnic antagonism, and the reception of political ideologies: social thought in the Estonian area, 1905–1916”

On 10 October at 16:15 Margo Roasto will defend his doctoral thesis The land question, ethnic antagonism, and the reception of political ideologies: social thought in the Estonian area, 1905–1916.

Supervisor:
Professor
Pärtel Piirimäe, University of Tartu

Opponent: 
Associate Professor Mart Kuldkepp,
University College London

Summary
Social changes have been often accompanied by political debates about the necessity of these changes. Various ways to solve social problems have been proposed in such debates. Historians have studied thoroughly the ground-breaking events and social changes that took place in Estonian area in 1905 and 1917. However, historians have so far paid less attention to the political debates that took place in the period between these revolutionary years. Nevertheless, the study of these political debates is necessary to understand the development of political ideas and the foundation of ideologically opposed political parties that carried these ideas forward and shaped political processes in Estonian area in 1917 and in the subsequent years.
The doctoral thesis deals with political debates about the land question, the interpretation of political ideologies, and the use of ideological concepts that took place in Estonian area in the period 1905–1916. More specifically, the thesis examines what arguments the authors who participated in the debates presented to justify their claims, which ideas of foreign authors did they rely on, and how the debates over the interpretation of political ideologies influenced the development of social thought in Estonian area. In other words, the purpose of the doctoral thesis is to analyse political texts published in the period (articles in newspapers or in collections, programs of political parties, etc.) in their historical context.
The authors who participated in the debates about the land question used various national, economic, and legal arguments to support their claims. They often relied on the ideas of foreign authors, which they adapted to local conditions. The foundation of the first legal political parties led to discussions about the basic principles of political ideologies. These debates testify to the increasing political competition in Estonian area. The doctoral thesis explains that in the period 1905–1916 the development of social thought in Estonian area was characterized by the introduction of new ideas, the further development of previous ideas and the rethinking of ideological principles. Since translated political literature as well as original texts were published increasingly more in Estonian, one can talk about the reception of political ideologies and the growth of the political awareness of the wider readership during the period. The doctoral thesis concludes that the reception of political ideologies resulted in the ideological diversification of social thought, which was a prerequisite for the emergence of ideologically different parties in 1917.

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