Imre Kertész Kolleg Jena

Professor Aigi Rahi-Tamm

Fellow Imre Kertész Kolleg Professor Rahi-Tamm

November 2018 - January 2019

Aigi Rahi-Tamm is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Archival Studies, Institute of History and Archaeology, University of Tartu. She has experienced all stages of the “archival revolution” in Estonia, from the opening of the secret Soviet archival funds until the arrival of the latest methods of the digital era and has gathered extensive experiences both in research and teaching. Political violence in Soviet society, especially deportations, has been a central topic of her research. In 2004 she defended her PhD thesis “Mass Repressions in Estonia after World War II: Sources and Current State of Research”. In 1997-2004 she was coordinator of the personal register for the Estonian State Commission on Examination of Policies of Repression.  She also leads a research project mapping the war experiences of Estonian soldiers in WWI and WWII. Her recent research has focused on the implementation of social control in the Soviet society which is a multifarious phenomenon from the using of state surveillance (Kritika 2012) to individual strategies. She has published extensively on all these topics and has participated in several national and European research projects as principal or co-investigator.

Research project at the Kolleg

During her stay at the Kolleg, Aigi Rahi-Tamm will work on the monograph and prepare a new research project. Sovietization in the Baltic states has predominantly been studied through the aspect of state institutions or victims of the violence. Against this background it can be argued that most of the population belonged to neither the executors nor the victims, but formed the so-called grey zone. The ungoing project analyzes the period from the 1940s to the 1960s on the basis of different social groups, aiming to map practices that on the one hand characterize various tactics applied by the authorities to put pressure on society and implement surveillance. On the other hand these practices describe individual strategies from resistance, conformation and compromises till remaining silent. The core issues are social control and its components.  Activities aiming to force citizens to conform to norms extended from negative (like condemnation, fining, imprisonment etc.) to positive measures (acknowledgement, rewards, promotion etc.). Activation of the population was also characteristic of the era of de-Stalinization. The question is how people were made to follow each other’s activities and attitudes, i.e. the level of everyday life and how they were included in the processes the influence and significance of which they may not have realized themselves. Thus, we can speak about several home fronts and tensions between people during the Cold War that were used by the authorities when necessary, until the end of the Soviet period. Keeping and losing trust between people is one of the key questions when interpreting the Soviet era.

Main areas of research

  • History of Sovietization, polical violence  
  • Social, cultural and everyday life (19th-20th centuries)
  • War experiences in the 20th century
  • Archival Studies and Public History
  • Interpretation of sources, methodology of biographical sources and oral history

Positions and memberships

  • member of BASEES (British Association for Slavonic and East European Studies)
  • member of AABS (The Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies)

Selected articles

Aigi Rahi-Tamm, „Doubly Marginalized People: The Hidden Stories of Estonian Society (1940-1960)“ in War, Revolution, and Governance: The Baltic Countries in the Twentieth Century, edited by  Lazar Fleishman, Amir Weiner (Stanford University: Academic Studies Press, 2018), 239–265.

Aigi Rahi-Tamm, „Homeless for Ever: the Contents of Home and Homelessness on the Example of Deportees from Estonia“ in Narratives of Exile and Identity in Soviet Deportation Memoirs from the Baltic States, edited by Violeta Davoliute, Tomas Balkelis (CEU Press, 2018), 65–84.

Aigi Rahi-Tamm, „Stalinist Repression in Estonia: State of the Research and Open Questions“, Croatian Political Science Review, 54 (1-2), (2017): 32−51.

Aigi Rahi-Tamm, Irena Saleniece, “Re-educating Teachers: Ways and Consequences of Sovietization in Estonia and Latvia (1940-1960) from the Biographical Perspective”, Journal of Baltic Studies, 47 no. 4 (2016): 451−472. Reprinted in Baltic Socialism Remembered. Memory and Life Story since 1989, edited by Ene Kõresaar (Routledge, Taylor&Francis Group, 2017), 21–42.

Aigi Rahi-Tamm, “Our untold stories: remembering the Soviet time from a historian’s viewpoint”, in Cultural Patterns and Life Stories, edited by Kirsti Jõesalu, Anu Kannike (Acta Universitatis Tallinnensis: Tallinn University Press, 2016), 77−103.

Aigi Rahi-Tamm, „On the Borderline between Tears and Laughter: Changes of Tonality in the Life Histories of Estonian Deportees“, in Life Writing and Politics of Memory in Eastern Europe, edited by Simona Mitroiu ( Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 144−164.

Aigi Rahi-Tamm, Meelis Saueauk. “Nõukogude julgeolekuasutuste Stalini-aegseist ülekuulamis­proto­kolli­dest: Allikakriitiline ülevaade (“The Interrogation Files of Soviet Security Organs in Stalin-era: A Source Critical View”), Eesti Ajalooarhiivi toimetised. Acta et commentationes Archivi Historici Estoniae, 23 (30) (2015): 218−243.

Aigi Rahi-Tamm, Liisi Esse, “Sõjaveteranid NKVD ees: Esimese maailmasõja peegeldused veerand sajandit hiljem (“War veterans put on NKVD trial: reflections of World War I a quarter-century later”)“, Eesti Ajalooarhiivi toimetised. Acta et commentationes Archivi Historici Estoniae, 22 (29) (2014): 383−403.

Amir Weiner, Aigi Rahi-Tamm, “Getting to Know You. The Soviet Surveillance System, 1939-1957”, Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History 13, no 1 (2012), 5−45.

Aigi Rahi-Tamm, “Aleksander Loog – Searching for One's Way: The Opportunities and Choices of Estonian Men during the Political Changes of the 1940s”, in Soldiers of Memory: World War II and its aftermath in Estonia post-Soviet life stories edited by Ene Kõresaar (Amsterdam, New York: Rodopi, 2011), 235−262.