Due to its geographical position between Russia and Western Europe, Estonian history is one of a so-called ‘border state’. Over time, the country has been colonised by both its Western and Eastern neighbours. Nevertheless, its modern cultural identity, initially constructed during the National Awakening in the nineteenth century, is firmly situated in the West, and in particular in the Germanic sphere of influence. When Soviet Russia annexed Estonia and the other Baltic states during the Second World War, an era of enduring cultural conflict began, characterised by a struggle of the locals to resist Russification, and to an extent to come to terms with the inevitable presence of this powerful ‘savage coloniser’. From the very beginning, the Baltic countries became a ‘Western oasis’, the Soviet West, serving as a desirable destination of internal tourism, as well as a showcase of ‘progressive’ Soviet culture. In particular, the Estonian capital city of Tallinn, and more precisely its well-preserved medieval Old Town, now a UNESCO world heritage site, became an interesting place for negotiations between conflicting ideologies and (national) identities, and an important arena for (re)presentations of power, resistance, and adaptation.
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