Abstracts for Akadeemia 2/2007
Towards a technology of cultural production: The example of cultural heritage
The author discusses cultural heritage and heritage movement as a present-day cultural and socio-economic phenomenon. He concisely defines heritage as political selection from the past.
The heritage movement has far-reaching roots in the history of culture and science. While originally heritage collection and designation involved family heritage of upper classes and so-called grand heritage, the general democratization of culture has intensified the designation of vernacular and ordinary objects, including those from recent history. Symptomatically, conservation still concentrates on accumulation of single objects and phenomena into long lists of designated objects. The paradigm of designation causes increasing dissatisfaction as the number of monuments and amount of documentation is growing quicker than the resources available for their systematization and maintenance. The paradigm is also accompanied by a self-fulfilling prophecy, which means that, presupposing that heritage phenomena are perishable, the conditions for their preservation are neglected or even undermined.
The author associates the rise of the heritage movement with the new organization of consumption in post-Fordist economies and the role of so-called real cultural capital in them. The new organization of consumption is characterized by strong mediation of consumption experience by new types of producers of culture, including heritage workers, who shape tastes and consumption codes. Based on the concept of new consumption organization, the author sketches a model that explains the “technology” of producing cultural heritage. He calls the process of assigning value to objects and phenomena considered worthless by academic circles until now their scientification. Scientification, in its turn, activates resources for their broader commodification, which is materialized, for example, in the form of various designated heritage Disneylands.
The implicit precondition for heritage protection regulations that cultural heritage can only be recognized by a narrow circle of experts hinders other social groups’ access to legitimization processes. One of the consequences of such practices in designated areas is their gentrification, which means invasion of certain areas by middle classes – to the detriment of lower classes – and the resulting refurbishment of properties. The action mechanism of gentrification can be financial, but it may also be based on earning and consumption habits or different environmental preferences (so-called greentrification). The author observes how, in Estonia, various planning regulations in areas with a specific cultural status impose restrictions on the infrastructure of agriculture and other rural businesses and create preferences for tourism, culture, research, and other activities of “intellectual” economy.
To conclude, the author sketches a concept of cultural heritage maintenance for Estonian nature reserves, which, based explicitly on values, attempts to stand out against the paradigm of designation. As the Estonian nature reserves usually do not protect wilderness but instead semi-natural areas, the author proposes that the people pursuing their traditional means of livelihood should be considered the key species in the protected community. Nature reserves should concentrate on living cultural heritage, which includes, for example, roads and buildings related to local land use and provisions of common law, and pay less attention to objects of high professional culture and political monuments.
Wolfgang Köhler’s connections with Estonia
The article discusses the German-American psychologist Wolfgang Köhler’s connections with Estonia. It concentrates on Köhler’s Baltic-German background and the first five years of his life, which he spent in Tallinn.
He was born into the family of Wilhelmine (née Girgensohn) and Franz Köhler. There were many outstanding personalities in his mother’s family, who made great contributions to the history of culture in Estonia.
Wilhelmine Girgensohn’s father graduated from the Theological Faculty of Tartu University and worked as high pastor of Oleviste Church, as vice-chairman of Tallinn Evangelic Lutheran City Consistory, and as superintendent of the Tallinn consistory region. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many Girgensohns received theological education and were successful as clerics, but other jobs (farmer, tailor, botanist, teacher, historian, writer, and doctor) were also represented in the family. Karl Girgensohn, who laid the foundations for religious psychology in Tartu, also came from that family.
Franz Köhler moved to Tallinn from Germany after earning his doctoral degree there in 1865. First he worked as Latin head teacher and later as headmaster of the Estonian Knights’ and Cathedral School.
Wolfgang Köhler was born as the fourth child in 1887. The family lived in Toompea at 9 Schulgasse. The flat belonged to the Estonian Knighthood. Its location was very convenient for the headmaster of the Cathedral School. It was in a corner building that was originally meant to be the school building. Opposite the house there was the new building of the Cathedral School, and next to it was the Cathedral.
Franz Köhler was very much loved by his students and alumni. A number of them later reminisced about him in their books. He was remembered as a teacher who had an exceptional talent for deeply understanding his students. Nonetheless, he managed to keep strict order in the classroom and his heart was in the right place.
Besides being the headmaster, Franz Köhler was interested in history and translated Latin historical documents into German.
The family left Estonia in 1882 when the Cathedral School was closed because of Russification. Moving to Germany, they took their maternal grandmother and aunt with them. They kept in touch with Estonia by mail. In 1906, when the Cathedral School was reopened, they visited Estonia again. The family had real estate in the Kalamaja district of Tallinn, which meant a strong connection with Estonia. So moving to Germany did not mean losing contact with Estonia.
Meeting between Rüdiger von der Golz and Ludvig Jakobsen and its reverberations
The inexpressive title “Transcript of the talk between the German general Count D. Golz and the Estonian military attaché about the War of Independence and the role of German occupation troops in it” conceals the record of an interesting meeting and its reverberations in Tallinn.
On 21 December 1938, the Estonian military attaché Colonel Ludvig Karl Jakobsen and the German general who could even be considered the “evil genius” of the Landeswehr War (a stage of the Estonian War of Independence) – Count Rüdiger von der Kolz – met at a cocktail reception hosted by the British military attaché in Berlin. The retired general and the representative of the Estonian military immediately reached a topic that seemed to interest both of them – the 1919 events in Latvia. The general considered the theme so essential that he put down his standpoints in writing and, on the following day, sent them to the colonel, who reported them to his chief in the second department of the staff of the armed forces. The paper reached the table of the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the Republic of Estonia, General Johan Laidoner, who added a page-long comment to it.
Von der Goltz states: “The advance of the German free corps from the beginning of March to the end of May 1919 had thrown the Bolshevist hordes back to Russia. We rightfully feel that we are the liberators of the Baltic states from Soviet Russia. It is ridiculous to claim that we were conquerors. The task in 1919 to defend Germans, in addition to internal Bolshevism, from the more dangerous external Bolshevism was big enough to be confined to it. Therefore chasing them back to Russia was necessary.”
General Laidoner, in his comment to the letter, explains that von der Golz defended southern Latvia and Lithuania against Bolshevism late in 1918 and early in 1919. This, however, does not concern Estonia. In the history of the Estonian nation, the War of Independence was one of the most significant events, the consequence of which was the independent Estonian state. Nonetheless, Laidoner writes compliantly “[–] if Latvia and Lithuania had remained under Bolsheviks in 1919, the question arises whether we would have been able to resist on our own, and if we had, it would have been much more difficult for us. This indirect supportive factor most probably still does not outweigh the hardships we had to suffer in the war with Landeswehr.”
Johan Laidoner’s accompanying letter reveals his relatively German-friendly attitude. From 1936, contacts between the militaries of both countries had become more frequent, which resulted in mutual cooperation, visits, and procurements of arms. Laidoner shows that long-term feuds can be overcome, and, if necessary, one can even befriend the former enemy.
Ilminski’s system: An attempt to direct ethnic processes
The article analyzes an interesting or even exceptional element of ethnic policy in nineteenth-century Russia – the so-called Ilminski’s system, the aim of which was Russification of the internal periphery (regions populated with non-Russians in the interior of the Russian Empire). In the long term, it was primarily directed against the spread of Islam and Tatar high culture.
In 1847, a translation committee was established to inhibit the spread of Islam by translating the most essential Orthodox texts into the Tatar literary language. The attempt failed as the literary language was understood only by the elite. In 1860, Nikolai Ilminski, one of the committee members, reached the understanding that non-Russians (initially mainly Kryashens – christened Tatars) could be tied to Orthodoxy and consequently to Russia only through their mother tongues. Ilminski did not consider the existing Tatar literary language suitable as it was associated with Islam and was rather distant from the vernacular. Thus, a number of new literary languages had to be created. They were to use the Cyrillic alphabet, which was related to Orthodoxy, the Russian language, and culture. The model school of Ilminski’s system was the Kazan Central School for Christened Tatars (1863). As Ilminski’s system had many opponents, it did not receive government support before 1870 when it won the favour of D.A. Tolstoy, the minister of education and chief procurator of the Synod. As early as in 1872, the Ministry of Education opened a training college for non-Russian teachers in Kazan; along with Kryashens, other ethnicities followed its example.
After Ilminski’s death in December 1891, attacks against his system became more frequent. The positions of its alternative, the so-called natural method, had started strengthening under the rule of Alexander III already, and Ilminski’s death contributed to it even more.
Ilminski’s system helped to tie many only formally christened animists more closely to Orthodoxy; it prevented tens of thousands of Orthodox Tatars from returning to Islam and kept Kazakhs away from the pan-Islamist movement. Still, the integrating role of Orthodoxy in the rapidly modernizing Russian Empire was evidently overestimated. Ilminski seemed to believe that Russia’s society was basically stable and his system had time to take effect and bear fruit. Although Russification of non-Russians failed, the worst was prevented. Thus, the Empire still benefited from Ilminski’s system, although not as much as expected.
The new literary languages, which were meant to be temporary tools for Russification of non-Russian peoples and their intellectuals, began to live their own lives and their creators lost control of them. One can be certain that the system gave a boost to the birth of Chuvash, Mari, Udmurt, as well as Mordvinian and Kazakh nationalisms. Ilminski’s opponents had been right when they were afraid that the system could breed non-Russian nationalism and separatism.
Soviet ethnic policy, particularly in the 1920s, learned a lot from Ilminski. In those times, in order to convey its ideological message to the masses, Soviet ethnic policy also relied on ethnic human resources, mother-tongue education, and literature. The by-product of this policy was strengthening of non-Russian nationalisms (ethnic communism). Perhaps the fruits of Ilminski’s system have not ultimately ripened yet.
On theology of religion and interreligious dialogue
The essay discusses theology against the background of the conflict between religions. How could the conflicts between religions be overcome? What is theology of religion and interreligious dialogue? The article primarily discloses the Christian way of thought. Interreligious dialogue is often used as a synonym for theology of religion. Interreligious dialogue refers to learning about an alien tradition through open meetings before giving it a theological assessment. Often the aim of the dialogue is enrichment of one’s own tradition or, in Raimon Panikkar’s words, even mutual fecundation or cross-fertilization. Theology of religion and interreligious dialogue are both difficult to define. In 1984, the Vatican’s Secretariat for Non-Christians (Secretariatus pro non christianis) published a document called Dialogue and Mission, which, for the first time, attempted to give an official definition to the word “dialogue” – this is an “attitude and spirit” directed at mutual understanding and enrichment. Theology of religion does not prefer to be based on philosophically abstract systems and the sterile world of ideas but on the concrete world rather. It attempts to explain how in its foundations the Christian religion is related to different religions and cultures that experience dire poverty and misery. Theologians of religion can be typified as exclusivists, inclusivists, pluralists, and post-pluralists. The article discusses these types separately and analyzes the potentials of one or another type for interreligious dialogue. The second part of the article briefly describes the essence of the dialogue between Christians and representatives of other religions and the problems concerned. It views the dialogue between Christians and Hindus, Christians and Buddhists, Christians and Judaists, Christians and Moslems. The conclusion sums up the general motives and aims of interreligious dialogue.
Estonia’s administration needs quality management
The year 2006 marks the centenary of the publication of the Estonian translation of Adolf Damaschke’s book Aufgaben der Gemeindepolitik (Tasks of Local Government), which by that time had come out in five editions in Germany. The book was translated by Konstantin Päts, later the president of the Republic of Estonia. The book discussed the tasks of local government that result from people’s interests and needs. The translator also treated as a local government the Republic of Estonia, which was established a dozen years later.
In 1920, Max Weber explained the advantages of ancient hierarchical systems used in church administration and the ways of their application in management of modern organizations and governance of states. The application of these principles proved to be novel and effective in shaping the administrative systems of several countries. In Estonia, K. Päts took steps in this direction after the 1934 coup. Unfortunately, in the Soviet Union and Hitler’s Germany, this administrative system became an instrument of criminal dictatorship and totalitarianism. Therefore, the management principles formulated by Weber were deemed inappropriate for democratic countries.
After World War II, New Public Management (NPM), which was similar to the principles of business administration, was introduced in the United States. It also penetrated Western Europe and achieved a dominant position there. However, by causing mismanagement, by the end of the century NPM brought about disappointment in several countries.
Post-war Estonia was ruled by the extremely centralized administrative system of the USSR. The year 1991 marked the beginning of a new era in public management of Estonia. The principles and methods of NPM were applied. Their overall application made the management of economic processes by the government almost nonexistent. By now, however, it has become clear that unlimited self-development of market economy does not solve a number of social problems and can even create new ones. The situation is somewhat similar to that in 1934 when K. Päts launched a coup in order to establish his principles. What could the possible solution be today?
The solution would be the application of the principles of quality management in public service. Clear-cut instructions on the essence and organization of quality management are provided in the ISO 9000 series of international quality standards. Quality management denotes high quality results of activities or meeting the expectations of customers. Such an approach can also be applied to public services whose customers are the state and all its people. In several countries, including Finland, quality management has become a natural part of state and local government, education, health care, and other social processes.
In Estonia, the quality of governance and public administration is low and does not live up to people’s expectations. The main reason for it is that the rules for fulfilling many significant administrative tasks are insufficient and, what is most important – a number of tasks of public administration that should meet people’s needs have not been formulated at all and are nobody’s responsibility. The book translated by K. Päts a hundred years ago was devoted namely to these problems. Estonia has an opportunity to show that, also under democratic government, the efficiency of governance can improved, and this can be done without jeopardizing the democratic public order. This is facilitated by applying the principles of quality management, which would bring a breath of fresh air to Estonian public management and democracy.
Published 9 February 2007
Original in English
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