Estonain Folklore

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You are visiting the Estonian folklorists' server Haldjas (fairy, guardian spirit), which was set up in 1995 by the folk belief research group of the Institute of the Estonian Language. Presently, the group and the server have been incorporated under the Estonian Literary Museum. The majority of electronic publications and data corpora in the server are in the Estonian language, which belongs to the Finno-Ugric language family. Estonia is a small country with ca one million people, who speak the Estonian language as their mother tongue.

The server offers a wide range of information on oral heritage, folklore and folk belief, on the institutions actively engaged in folkloristic research in Estonia as well as researchers and research projects. The covered aspects of folklore also include the heritage of other peoples of the Uralic language group. The server features two journals that have been published online and in print since 1996: Mäetagused and Folklore: An electronic Journal of Folklore.

Only parts of the material are currently available in English and/or German; in time the proportion of material in foreign language will grow.

Our news!

Online-seminar Cultures in war mode 8: The power of memes

From 4-6 pm, Monday, May 22 the 8th online seminar from the series "Cultures in war mode": Humour in the conditions of the war.
Guillem Castañar (University of Helsinki), Anastasiya Fiadotava (Estonian Literary Museum/Jagiellonian University) and Liisi Laineste (Estonian Literary Museum) will give a talk "The power of memes".
Memes offer responsive acute commentary on societal matters. They provide non-violent and democratic spaces of discussion for conflicts. The paper studies memes on the war in Ukraine that spread in Eastern (Russia, Estonia, Belarus) and Western Europe (Spain).
We analyse who are the main actors/characters that personify the war in the memes in these countries, how these characters are represented in memes, and what are the global and local aspects of their portrayal. We show the connections between the degree of a country’s emotional engagement in, and geographical proximity to, the conflict and the humorous memes revolving around this conflict that circulate in the country.
See also
Click here to join the meeting
Supported by the project EKM 8-2/20/3 Estonian Literary Museum.

The 15th Conference "Laughter and Its Features" 18–21 May 2023, Tartu, Estonia

The 15th meeting of the conference series "Laughter and Its Features" 18–21 May 2023 (Odessa - Tartu) will start soon in the Estonian Literary Museum. The schedule of the conference can be found on the website.
The keynote speakers of this interdisciplinary conference are Władysław Chłopicki from Jagiellonian University, Poland and Anna Krasnikova from Università Cattolica di Milano, Italy. The title of the lecture by professor Chłopicki is "Humor and figurative language".
Anna Krasnikova's speech is "The end of a beautiful monstration: on one carnival procession and language defence in Russia".
See more about the event.

Folklore: EJF vol. 88

The editorial board of ELM folklorists' research journal "Folklore: an electronic Journal of Folklore" announces that the latest issue of the journal is now available.
In their co-authored article, Sonja Hukantaival from Finland and Tõnno Jonuks and Kristiina Johanson from Estonia discuss objects connected with folk magic and medicine found in museum collections in Estonia and Finland, and how these objects differ between the two countries.
They also explore how these materials have been acquired and collated.
The second article, by Siria Kohonen from Finland, continues the topic of folk medicine, examining what expectations lay people (those not considered folk healers themselves) had for pre-industrial Finnish-Karelian healing traditions, how these expectations were represented in archived folklore materials, and how they, in turn, affected the healing traditions. Kohonen’s study represents a cross-disciplinary analysis of the subject, with theoretical perspectives drawn from performance studies, cognitive science memory studies, and placebo studies.
The authors of the next article, Charlotte Doesburg and Riitta-Liisa Valijärvi, come from the United Kingdom, yet their article is dedicated to the Finnish folk troubadour duo
In their lyrics, the duo uses extracts from online forums and other social media. The authors argue that this method of song-writing is a prime example of modern folklore as it reflects the collective, anonymous creativity of people and is reminiscent of the compilation of the Finnish national epic Kalevala.
Rūta Latinytė from Lithuania discusses contemporary gift-giving practices, using the tools of phenomenological anthropology and the means of research into everyday practices.
The author focuses on special cases of gift giving, revealed through the narratives of respondents, giving a deeper insight into three cases of self-gifting.
The next article takes us to the USA. Roslyn M. Frank explores the way that the Bear’s Son tale, a wide-spread European folktale, came to be incorporated into the oral storytelling traditions of Native Americans. Frank reflects on how and why versions of the European tale came to attract the attention of Native American storytellers, as well as the time frame that might be assigned to the transfer of these oral traditions.
Although the author of the following article, Erol Sakallı, comes from Turkey, his study is related to the USA, investigating the acculturation levels of the Ahıska Turks living there. Sakallı explores the significance of age, marital status, education, employment, length of stay, and language competence in the acculturation process, discussing his findings within the framework of the existing literature.
Nesrin Akıncı Çötok, Ender Büyüközkara and Tufan Çötok from Turkey examine the status and roles of women in terms of gender in ancient Turkish history and culture based on the Dīwān Lughāt al-Turk – the first Turkish dictionary.
It can be seen from the dictionary that women are classified in terms of their social status and that they are part of a hierarchical structure, yet also being perceived as representatives of beauty and aesthetics.
Turkish topics continue with the article by İsmail Abalı, whose research is based on document analysis and was conducted on Turkish riddles that were established with obscene associations with a decent answer, creating a threatening perception and containing insult and cursing. The samples belonging to the genre are analysed from a psychoanalytic perspective.
The issue concludes with an article by Jun Zhao and Marianne Zhao from China, who investigate Zheng Qiufeng’s song cycle “Four Seasons of Our Motherland”, showing how politics can be subtly included in the musical plot.
This song cycle is made unique by the inclusion of minority characteristics from different Chinese regions together with its distinctive ideological mission.
The issue also offers an overview of a joint Estonian-Hungarian seminar on contemporary folklore as well as a book review.
Folklore: EJF is a peer-reviewed open access academic journal published since 1996 and the current issue is available online

Seminar about Russian censorship and anti-war activism

Online seminar on April 24, 2023, 16:00-18:00
Natalia Kovyliaeva (Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies) will give a lecture "Russian Anti-War Activism, Civil Society and (Self-)Censorship in Times of Russia’s War in Ukraine"
Since the re-start of Russia’s war in Ukraine on February 24th, 2022, the political repressions against Russian civil society, activists, and independent media have increased. The invasion has brought more censorship and self-censorship into the activists’ lives and forced them to find new strategies and tactics for activism or even to flee the country due to changing political realms.
The upcoming discussion will focus on how these new restrictive measures and laws had impacted and transformed activism in Russia, based on the illustration of some cases, such as feminist and human rights activism, and how the repressions before the war had created a ground for new prosecutions.
In addition, we will discuss how the new censorial measures have influenced activists’ biographies and identities while they try to continue to be activists both inside and outside of Russia, use new creative tactics of protest to overcome censorship and avoid repressions, and activists’ dilemmas arising from these balancing between the censorship and the right for freedom of speech
Finally, we will reflect on the potential implications of these developments on Russian civil society and activism in general, as well as their future trajectories and challenges that the current situation might bring.
Seminar via Teams
More about the seminar here
The seminar is supported by the ELM research project EKM 8-2/20/3.

Online-seminar on April 17 about sacred yoiks of the Sami people and their sacred sites

At the seminar starting online via Teams at 11 a.m. on April 17, Yulia Shpinitskaya (Grant-funded researcher, Department of Philosophy, History and Art Studies; Univ. of Helsinki) will give a presentation "Yoking with the Spirits: Sami Sound Rituals and Acoustics of Sacred Sites".
The University of Helsinki Archaeoacoustic Group has recently began exploring acoustics of the Sami sacred sites in relation to their ritual practices. The sites are vertical rocks often situated by lakes and rising directly from water, producing strong and accurate sound reflections. According to early historical records, these site were associated with shamanic rituals, in which the Sami yoiked to awake the spirits of the place and fall into trance. Hypothetically, those special yoiks dedicated to the sacred sites could be linked to the site acoustics. In the course of our research, we have
been collecting Sami beliefs regarding their sacred sites, information about religious practices, stories about spirits and nature beings, and yoiks that could possibly pertain to the shamanic rituals. The study encompasses material from all Sami groups, such as Northern, Southwestern and Eastern Sami found from the archives in Finland, Sweden and Norway and early ethnographic sources. Beliefs and religious practices are analysed for echo components, whereas yoiks identified as sacred are analysed for acoustically interesting elements. This presentation highlights our understanding of the Sami sacred yoiks and their sacred sites from the acoustic perspective. We will follow ethnographic sources and take a close look at the yoik texts, melodic structures, and vocal gestures.
Join here
Julia's personal profile

Public lecture by dr. Agita Misāne on March 23 at 16.15

Dr. Agita Misāne, Leading Researcher at the Faculty of Communications at Riga Stradiņši University will read a public lecture "Perception of Death and Imagined Afterlife in Latvian Traditional and Contemporary Religious Cultures" on March 23 at 16.15.
The lecture will take place at Ülikooli 16-212, Tartu.
Lecture will be based on the findings of Latvian Research Council funded project “Memento Mori: The End of Life, Death and Imagined Afterlife in the Contemporary Latvian Lifeworld” and refer to archival data as well as quantitative and qualitative sociological analyses. The principal focus will be on how traditional beliefs are reflected in the opinions represented in religious and secular parts of the Latvian society.
Issues like preparation for death, what is considered "a good death", attitudes to euthanasia and suicide, and organ donation, will also be touched upon.
See also

Seminar about the visualization of Odessa urban space in war circumstances

Online seminar March 20, 2023, 16:00-18:00
Dr. Victor Levchenko (Odesa Mechnikov National University)
"New tendencies of visualization of Odessa urban space in war circumstances"
Points for discussion: 1) The possibilities of street art in war; 2) is it possible to talk about language wars in the modern urban context; 3) forms of actual content implementation in traditional artistic and cultural practices
Victor Levchenko is Associate Professor of the Odesa Mechnikov National University. He specializes in the field of philosophy of culture, philosophical anthropology, philosophy and methodology of sciences.
He is the author of more than 100 scientific papers. Editor-in-chief of the periodical «Δόξα / Докса. Збірник наукових праць з філософії та філології».
Seminar via Teams
More about the seminar series here
The seminar is supported by the ELM research project EKM 8-2/20/3.

On March 13th at 10:15 am Chahal Garg of the „Folkloristics and Applied Heritage Studies“ programme will defend her master’s project CRAFTECH FUTURES: Speculative Futures of Craft and Technology Convergence“.
Supervisor Elo-Hanna Seljamaa, reviewer Kairi Lentsius (Pallas University of Applied Sciences).
The practical part of the project and the written component can be accessed on the website of the Institute of Cultural Research: link
The defence will take place in Zoom: link
Meeting ID: 950 6272 4864
Passcode: 699389
All are welcome!
Liilia Laaneman-Nekoliak

CFP for the 15th International (Hybrid) Conference

The nature of laughter has puzzled researchers for centuries. Researchers from Eastern Europe and beyond are invited to take part in the academic discussion on humour and laughter at the 15th iteration of the conference series.
Please submit your abstracts (up to 200 words) until 30 March 2023 via the online form.
Presentations may include but are not limited to the following topics:
Ridiculous in human being and cognition
Laughter and comic forms in literature
Forms of laughter in art and society
Laughter and humour in culture
Phenomenon of laughter as an object of interdisciplinary research
Irony and culture of laughter
Philosophical aspects of laughter
Laughter and seriousness in culture
Linguistic investigations of laughter
Humour and parodies as a form of scientific communication / narrative
Laughter culture from the beginning till the present time
For more information, please visit the conference webpage
Odessa Humanitarian Tradition Society
Centre for Humanitarian Education of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine
Estonian Literary Museum

Young Voices: The Young Researchers of Culture Conference on May 11–12

Young researchers, university students at all study levels, and high school students whose research focuses on the analysis of cultural and social phenomena are welcome to participate at the annual spring conference Young Voices. We are looking forward to presentations that discuss a variety of topics, such as folklore, folk belief and religion, mythology, traditional culture, material aspects of culture, new digital society, oral history and contemporary applications of heritage. Each speaker will have 20 minutes to present current problems in their field of research and an additional 10 minutes for questions and discussion. The event is open to both completed research as well as projects in their early stages and accepts traditionally academic as well as innovative and digital presentations.
If you are interested, please send the abstract of your presentation (up to 250 words) and your contact information via registration form by March 20.
Organizers: Mathilda Matjus, Natali Ponetajev, Mihkel Braun, Saara Mildeberg, Liisi Jääts, Miikael Jekimov, Helen Kästik, Kristel Kivari, Ülo Valk
University of Tartu, NEFA, Estonian Literary Museum, Tallinn University, Estonian National Museum

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