CfP: Expectations and Uncertainties: Liminal Experiences in the Baltic Sea Region in the Early 1990s

The Academy of Finland project A Dim Light of Dawn: Finnish Post-Cold War Experiences between East and West, 1989–1995 and the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the History of Experiences (HEX) is organizing a one-day workshop on the post-Cold War history of experiences in the Baltic Sea region at Tampere University in November 2023.

Abstract deadline: 30 June

The turn of the 1990s marked a period of political, social, and economic turmoil in the Baltic Sea Region. The collapse of the Soviet Union and the fall of the Berlin Wall created a unique interregnum, characterized by uncertainty, ambiguity, excitement and potentiality. In spite of economic and social difficulties, the immediate post-Cold War years seemed to offer an unexpected window of opportunities. This period of liminality was a time of profound change, where individuals and communities were navigating new political realities, shifting cultural identities, and redefining their place in the world. Today’s geopolitical challenges and repositioning in the Baltic Sea region caused by the Russian war against Ukraine places a renewed interest in the history of the immediate post-Cold War period.

The early 1990s were characterized by grassroots transnationalism. Grassroots movements gained prominence during this period, as individuals and NGOs forged new connections across borders. These movements played a crucial role in advocating for political change, and contributing to the reconfiguration of the Baltic Sea region’s social and cultural landscapes.

Concurrently, the rise of (neo)patriotism influenced the shaping of collective memories and the reinterpretation of historical narratives in the region. The intertwining of grassroots activism, (neo)patriotism and European integration also influenced the discussion surrounding national identities and historical memory, shaping the narratives of the transformative period.

This workshop seeks to explore the histories of liminal experiences of individuals and communities in the Baltic Sea region (Nordic countries, Baltic countries, Poland, Germany, Russia) during this transformative period. The history of experiences examines the socially and culturally constructed character of individual, collective and communicated encounters, perceptions, and interpretations, providing insights into the lived realities of diverse groups and their impact on society.

We invite papers that explore the themes of the histories of experiences and transformation in relation, but not limited, to the following topics:

  • Experiences of shifting identities
  • Experiences of grassroots movements and civil society initiatives
  • Experiences in changing economic circumstances
  • EU referendum debates in the Nordic countries
  • Memory politics and history culture during the transformative period
  • The history of emotions in the face of political and social transformations
  • Experience of environmental change and its impact on individuals and communities
  • (Neo)patriotic experiences and movements around the Baltic Sea region
  • Experiences of transnational connections, cooperation and networks
  • Minority experiences in the changing environment

We welcome proposals from historians and scholars of neighbouring fields such as cultural memory studies and political studies.

The workshop will be held at Tampere University on 23 November 2023. The deadline for abstract submissions is 30 June 2023. Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words to Notification of acceptance will be sent by 7 August 2023. All accepted presenters are requested to submit an abstract of their paper for circulation by 16 October.

The papers are intended to be published as an edited volume or a theme issue. Details on the schedule and submission of chapters/articles will be announced in the workshop.

Although we are unable to fund travel expenses, there is no participation fee for the workshop. Lunch and coffee are provided by the organizer.

The language of the workshop is English. The workshop is organized as part of the Academy of Finland research project A Dim Light of Dawn: Finnish Post-Cold War Experiences Between East and West, 1989–1995 at the Academy of Finland Centre of Excellence in the History of Experiences (HEX).

We look forward to your contributions.


The Dim Light team

Tuomas Tepora, Aapo Roselius & Ville Yliaska