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Åter till släktens mark?: En studie av markåterlämningen i Estlands svenskbygder efter Sovjetunionens sammanbrott
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography.
2003 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Back to Family Land? : A study of land restitution in the former Swedish settlement areas of Estonia after the collapse of the Soviet Union (English)
Abstract [en]

During the 1990s land has been reprivatised in Eastern and Central Europe. The focus of this thesis is directed at the restitution process in Estonia, and particularly in the rural north-western part of the country, inhabited by a Swedish speaking minority until 1943-1944. During the Second World War, the majority of this population group migrated to Sweden. Following the fall of the communism at the end of the 1980s, the former inhabitants, whose land had been nationalised by the Soviet Union in 1940, were given the opportunity to have their farms restored to them.

The aim of the thesis is to analyse this restitution process. Maps and registers of land ownership from the 1930s and the present day have been scrutinized in order to investigate how much of the land in the study area has been restored to its former owners over the last ten years. The analysis demonstrates that a new property structure has developed, with a boundary structure somewhat similar to that of the 1930s, since it is quite common that former landowners have not reclaimed all their former land and that properties have been subdivided between relatives.

In order to investigate why land has been reclaimed by its former owners or their heirs, and the uses they intend to put it to, a questionnaire survey and a case study of five villages were conducted. The latter included in-depth interviews with landowners living both in Estonia and abroad. It appears that one of the motives for reclaiming land is based on a desire to have family property restored. Former landowners currently living in Estonia were also interested in restitution as a means of acquiring land and forest which they may utilise. Many of the exiled Swedes are not intending to use the land restored to them, nor to resettle permanently. By comparison with landowners living in Estonia, their property use has to date been more passive.

The restitution process has left traces on the landscape. A shift away from the patterns of land use associated with Soviet style collective farming is visible to a certain degree, as is a return to an approach based on smaller units of land. The process has also resulted in the abandonment of farmland, since many landowners are not prepared to cultivate it. Land has also been assigned a recreational function, with second homes being built on land restored via the restitution process.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Kulturgeografiska institutionen , 2003. , 268 p.
Geografiska regionstudier, ISSN 0431-2023 ; 54
Keyword [en]
Social and economic geography, Estonia, Estonian Swedes, transition, restitution, land ownership, land use
Keyword [sv]
National Category
Human Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-3827ISBN: 91-506-1708-7OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-3827DiVA: diva2:163776
Public defence
2003-12-11, Sal IV, Universitetshuset, S:t Olofsgatan, Uppsala, 10:15
Available from: 2003-11-17 Created: 2003-11-17Bibliographically approved

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