Stiftelsen för forskning inom områden med anknytning till Östersjöregionen och Östeuropa

Islands of Identity: Identity Building on Bornholm, Gotland, Åland, Saaremaa and Hiiumaa, 1800–2000


Ämne: Historia
Projektledare: Erik Axelsson
Startår: 2009

The project will study regional identity making on five large Baltic islands – Bornholm, Gotland, Åland, Saaremaa, and Hiiumaa – during the 19th and 20th centuries. The interplay between subnational identity ideologies on the one hand and nationalism and supranational projects on the other will be examined. Thereby we will contribute to the still developing field of analysing identity making in other settings than purely ethnical or national ones. The overall outline is comparative: what differences are there between the islands, in various epochs and political settings? The source material mainly consists of topographical and historical literature of many kinds, scholarly as well as popular. We make extensive inventories for quantitative analysis, as well as in-depth ideological analyses of selected works.

In the comparison of the identity projects, we ask a number of questions. Who are the authors? For whom are the books written? In what major geographical contexts are the islands placed: e.g. the respective nation-states, Europe, or the Baltic Region? What in the past is remembered, and what is forgotten? In the research fields of identity making and uses of history, in depth studies of subnational and supranational identity ideologies are still underrepresented. Regional identity making has mostly been analysed in relation to the national level, while the linkages to supranational categories are scarcer. Especially, there is a lack of research on identity projects where these two levels are joined together.