New research project on the history of self-determination of peoples
A new research team has been established at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, focusing on the concept of self-determination in historical perspective. The team is led by Dr Eva Piirimäe, Associate Professor of Political Theory, who received funding from the Estonian Research Council.
The rationale of the five-year (2020-2024) research project “Self-determination of peoples in historical perspective” stems from an observation that although the concept of self-determination is one of the key normative principles of modern politics, there is no substantial agreement as to how it should be applied.
“The project rests on the thesis that uncovering the concept's historical origins will help to illuminate these uncertainties and the ways in which they are exploited in international politics. It is our aim to study the historical development of the concept and its various applications from the Enlightenment to the present day,” describes Piirimäe.
The research team is interdisciplinary, bringing together researchers with different disciplinary backgrounds such as political theory, law, history, and philosophy. In addition to Eva Piirimäe, the core research team includes Hent-Raul Kalmo, Kaarel Piirimäe, Juhan Saharov, Kadi Kähär-Peterson, Semen Reshenin, and Andres Reimann.
Experimenting with the approach of ‘serial contextualism’, the project combines contextual intellectual history with conceptual history and genealogy. The project aims to reconstruct a range of historical debates on self-determination of peoples, so as to identify ruptures and long-range continuities in the development of this idea. In so doing, the links of this concept to related terms such as popular sovereignty, principle of nationality, self-government, autonomy, etc. will be explored, while questions will also be asked about the ways in which its past usages and theoretical interpretations might be influencing our present ones.
The research group holds regular project seminars to which also other scholars working on related themes are invited. Over four years, several international workshops and a lecture series with international guest lecturers will be organised. For further information on the project, please see the website: https://sisu.ut.ee/selfdetermination/
For more information, please contact Dr Eva Piirimäe, Associate Professor of Political Theory, eva.piirimae [ät] ut.ee