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Empty Spaces and the Value of Symbols: Estonia's 'War of Monuments' from Another Angle

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Taking as its point of departure the recent heightened discussion surrounding publicly sited monuments in Estonia, this article investigates the issue from the perspective of the country's eastern border city of Narva, focusing especially upon the restoration in 2000 of a 'Swedish Lion' monument to mark the 300th anniversary of Sweden's victory over Russia at the first Battle of Narva. This commemoration is characterised here as a successful local negotiation of a potentially divisive past, as are subsequent commemorations of the Russian conquest of Narva in 1704. A recent proposal to erect a statue of Peter the Great in the city, however, briefly threatened to open a new front in Estonia's ongoing 'war of monuments'. Through a discussion of these episodes, the article seeks to link the Narva case to broader conceptual issues of identity politics, nationalism and post-communist transition.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Nottingham Trent University, 2: University of Glasgow,

Publication date: September 1, 2007

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