Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena

Dr Eva-Clarita Pettai

Academic staff Eva-Clarita Pettai

Research associate

Leutragraben 1 | 07743 Jena
Fon +49 (0) 3641 9 440 58
Mail: ec.pettai(at)uni-jena(dot)de

Curriculum Vitae

Eva-Clarita Pettai has joined the Imre-Kertész Kolleg in 2017, where she is editor of the Culture of History Forum and manages the research area “History in the Public Sphere”. Her own research focuses broadly on the comparative study of democratization, the politics of memory and transitional justice in the former communist region. Having worked for many years in the Baltic states, she has published widely on the many ways in which the recent history of that region has been re-written, negotiated and contested in different domestic (inter-ethnic, legal, academic) and transnational (European and bilateral) settings. Her book Transitional and Retrospective Justice in the Baltic States (Cambridge UP) received the 2015 Baltic Assembly Prize for Literature, Arts and Science.
She obtained her doctoral degree in Political Science from the Free University of Berlin, supported by a three-year scholarship with the Evangelisches Studienwerk e.V. Villigst; she worked as adjunct lecturer, research assistant, project manager and translator at the University of Potsdam, at Vidzeme University College and with different other academic and non-academic partners in Latvia. For two years she was a project manager for the History Network of Young Europeans–EUSTORY, at the Körber Foundation in Hamburg, before moving to Estonia to work as a senior researcher at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu in 2004. Besides research and teaching there, she was involved in and coordinated various externally funded international research and teaching networks (COST, H2020, Nordplus neighbor) and served as director of the PhD Program Political Science. Moreover, for five years she was reviews editor for the Journal of Baltic Studies and later editor-in-chief of the book series ‘Politics and Societies in the Baltic Sea Region’ with Tartu University Press (until 2016). Since 2018 she is member of the Advisory Board to the Stiftung Adam von Trott zu Solz e.V., Imshausen.

Research and Publication Projects at the Kolleg

As managing editor of the Cultures of History Forum I am continuously on the look-out for interesting public debates, new museum exhibitions or policy decisions that concern history and the public representations of the past in the countries of Central, Eastern and Southeastern Europe. Moreover, besides finding topics and working with authors for the Forum, I am part of the team that conceptualizes and coordinates annual workshops and other activities relating to ‘History in the Public Sphere’ at the Kolleg.
In my own research, I am currently working on several projects, all in the framework of broader collective publication projects. Inspired by a workshop on ‘Memory laws: criminalizing historical narratives’ at Columbia University, I am working on an article that examines recent legislation in Latvia and Lithuania that penalizes the public denial or condoning of Nazi and Soviet-era crimes (so called memory laws) and the related debates against the backdrop of increasing concerns over the state of democracy, freedom of expression and constitutionalism in Central and Eastern Europe.
In another project, I compare the different narratives that have emerged over the past decades in Estonia and Latvia about the period of the Singing Revolutions and immediate post-1989 transition, and how they have shaped political identities and inform competing discourses of the state and democracy. This research is done in a wider framework of collaborative work at the Kolleg studying the legacies and politics of 1989 in Central and Eastern Europe.
Finally, I continue to follow and research developments and public debates with regard to issues of (post-)transitional justice in the Baltic region and beyond (file access, trials and restitution).

Main areas of research

  • Comparative politics of history and memory; pan-European memory politics
  • Transitional and historical justice
  • Postcommunism
  • Democracy, memory and law
  • Baltic 20th century history and historiography

Positions and memberships

Selected publications


Pettai, Eva-Clarita and Vello Pettai, Transitional and Retrospective Justice in the Baltic States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015).

Onken, Eva-Clarita, Demokratisierung der Geschichte in Lettland. Staatsbürgerliches Bewusstsein und Geschichtspolitik im ersten Jahrzehnt der Unabhängigkeit (Hamburg: Krämer 2003).

Onken, Eva-Clarita, Revisionismus schon vor der Geschichte. Aktuelle Kontroversen in Lettland um die Judenvernichtung und die lettische Kollaboration 1941-1944 (Köln: Wissenschaft & Politik, 1998)

Edited volumes

Pettai, Eva-Clarita, ed., Memory and Pluralism in the Baltic States (London: Routledge, 2011).


Pettai, Eva-Clarita, 'Prosecuting Soviet Genocide: Comparing the Politics of Criminal Justice in the Baltic States', European Politics and Society, 17: doi: 10.1080/23745118.2016.1269444, 22 Dec 2016.

Pettai, Eva-Clarita, 'Debating Baltic memory regimes', Journal of Baltic Studies 47, no. 2 (2016): 165-178.

Pettai, Eva-Clarita, 'Negotiating History for Reconciliation: A Comparative Evaluation of Baltic Presidential Commissions', Europe-Asia Studies 67, no. 7 (2015): 1079-1101.

Pettai, Eva-Clarita, 'Interactions Between History and Memory: Historical Truth Commissions and Reconciliation', in The Ashgate Research Companion on Memory Studies, edited by Siobhan Kattago (Farnham: Ashgate, 2015), 237-250.

Pettai, Eva-Clarita, 'Establishing "Holocaust Memory"- A Comparison of Estonia and Latvia', in Historical Memory Culture in the Enlarged Baltic Sea Region and its Symptoms Today, edited by Oliver Rathkolb and Imbi Sooman (Vienna: VR Unipress, 2011) 159-174.

Pettai, Eva-Clarita, 'The Convergence of Two Worlds: Historians and Emerging Histories in the Baltic States', Forgotten Pages in Baltic History. Themes of Diversity and Inclusion, edited by Martyn Housden and David J. Smith (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2011) 263-80.

Onken, Eva-Clarita, 'Memory and Democratic Pluralism in the Baltic States - Rethinking the Relationship', Journal of Baltic Studies 41, no. 3 (2010): 277-294.

Onken, Eva-Clarita, 'The Baltic States and Moscow's 9 May Commemoration: Analysing Memory Politics in Europe', Europe-Asia Studies 59, no. 1 (2007): pp. 23-46.

Onken, Eva-Clarita, 'Wahrnehmung und Erinnerung des Zweiten Weltkriegs in Lettland nach 1945', Mythen der Nationen - 1945 Arena der Erinnerungen (Katalog zur Austellung), edited by Monika Flacke (Mainz: Zabern Verlag, 2004): 671-692.


review of Mārtiņš Kaprāns und Vita Zelče, eds., 'Pēdējais karš: Atmiņa un traumas komunikācija' [The Last War: Communicating Trauma], (Latvijas Universitate/SZF/SPPI, 2010), in Forschungen zur Baltischen Geschichte 7 (2012): 290-294.

Eine vollständige Publikationsliste von Frau Dr. Pettai finden Sie unter Publikationen