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Sillar och mullvadar: Jordägande och etnicitet i Estlands svenskbygder 1816-1939
Uppsala University, Humanistisk-samhällsvetenskapliga vetenskapsområdet, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography.
2003 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Herrings and moles : Land Ownership and Ethnicity in the Estonian Swedish Settlement areas 1816-1939 (English)
Abstract [en]

This dissertation focuses on the Swedish minority that settled in Estonia in early medieval times. It illustrates the importance of linking the survival of an ethnic group with the issue of land ownership. The ethnic composition and settlement patterns of Swedes and Estonians are analysed from a long-term perspective. Particular attention is paid to the impact of the process of land purchase, which took place primarily at the end of the 19th century, and the land reform of 1919. The study is based on both archival sources and interview material. This has allowed for ethnic status, as recorded in various written documents, to be related to the population’s own views on ethnic identity.

Research shows that the major in-migration of Estonians to the previously Swedish areas took place in connection with the transition from corvée duties to wage labour during the second half of the 19th century. Estonians generally lived close to the estates or as cottagers in the villages whereas the majority of the Swedish inhabitants were tenants. Land purchases led to an increase in the number of Estonian farm heads in a majority of the villages. Some of the Estonian families that bought farms were newcomers. Landless Estonian estate workers and cottagers were also given the opportunity to buy farms on the estates where they lived. Another factor that serves to explain the numerous Estonian land purchases is that a number of Swedes switched ethnic status, especially in connection with marriage.

The land reform of 1919 did not generally lead to any more substantial in-migration of Estonians into the Swedish villages. It appears that the best opportunities for the retention of Swedish ethnicity were found in villages where few Estonians had purchased farms and where there was thus a high degree of continuity within the Swedish population. This study discusses the relations between Swedes and Estonians, or “herrings” and “moles” as they called each other in school. It analyses the ways in which the Swedish population group was influenced by the increasing size of the Estonian population and argues that Swedes who switched ethnic status and language could nonetheless retain a strong sense of their Swedish identity.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Kulturgeografiska institutionen , 2003. , 226 p.
Geografiska regionstudier, ISSN 0431-2023 ; 55
Keyword [en]
Social and economic geography
Keyword [sv]
Kulturgeografi, Estonia, Estonian Swedes, land purchase, ethnic composition, ethnic status, ethnic identity
National Category
Human Geography
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-3868ISBN: 91-506-1718-4OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-3868DiVA: diva2:163803
Public defence
2003-12-12, Sal Minus, 1 tr, Gustavianum, Akademig, 3, Uppsala, 10:00
Available from: 2003-11-21 Created: 2003-11-21Bibliographically approved

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