Political Theory

Political theory research group at the Skytte institute studies the underlying principles of democratic institutions and the formation of political ideologies genealogically, seeking to highlight the complex origins of our current political vocabularies and normative commitments. Members of the group examine various kinds of theories of liberalism, democracy, nationalism, patriotism, cosmopolitanism, sovereignty, human rights, peace, and international order. The most favoured approaches are contextualism, legal theory and conceptual history, including metareflection about them. The more specific current research foci include: 1) theories of the self-determination of peoples from the Enlightenment to present; 2) theories of ’self-management’, ’autonomy’, ’self-government’ and ’civil society’ from the nineteenth century to present; 3) theories of democracy and authoritarianism in the first half of the 20th century, including the legitimation of specific political regimes/institutions; 4) the ideological foundations of Soviet „federalism“; 5) the conceptual and cultural history of the Soviet „friendship of peoples“; 6) theories of nation-statehood and ’small states/ nations’; 7) theories of international peace and order.

Head of the research field: Eva Piirimäe

Affiliated Staff: Hent Kalmo, Juhan Saharov, David Ilmar Lepasaar Beecher, Liisi Veski, Oliver Rowe

Affiliated research group:

Research Group on Self-Determination of Peoples


Come to listen to short lectures by doctoral students and choose your favourite!

Kick-off of Teaming projects of the Univeristy of Tartu

Two Teaming centres of excellence at the University of Tartu will create attractive opportunities for young researchers and boost innovation