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Coastal livelihoods: A study of population and land-use in Noarootsi, Estonia 1690 to 1940
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Social and Economic Geography.
2016 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis investigates how the inhabitants formed the coastal landscape of northwest Estonia through both internal change and external impact by estate owners, provincial government and imperial decrees. Two villages on the largely Swedish populated Noarootsi peninsula, Einbi (Enby) and Kudani (Gutanäs), are examined in detail. The aim was to answer questions about how the local livelihoods and farming systems of coastal inhabitants changed from the late 1600s to 1940. The background of a gradual weakening of the manorial estate system from 1800 onwards and a rapid development of freehold family farming from the 1860s is important to the analysis.

To examine the complex variety of factors and interactions that shape the landscape, an interdisciplinary approach to change has been used. This approach included a conceptual model for the local production unit, such as the individual farm. Information from historical maps, diverse population registers and agricultural censuses were used. The soil cover was examined with samples taken during fieldwork in the studied villages.

The study shows how the development of two villages in fairly similar geographic settings differed largely due to socio-political restrictions. During feudal times, the primary changes were related to the fact that local nobility could maintain their land ownership rights and regulations for manorial deliveries and corvée duties. Changes to natural conditions, such as soil quality and land uplift, had no substantial effect on land productivity. From the 19th century, the most important factor was the legalized opportunity to purchase farms as freeholds from estates, as well as through land reforms in an independent Estonia. The traditional niche of coastal Swedish peasants, who depended on a variety of productive activities, remained in practice. As all manor land was nationalized, many new smallholdings and crofts were created based on external activities by inhabitants, such as farm day labor. Farm productivity was now increased primarily by improvement to land quality (use of artificial fertilizers and meadow drainage), and by the introduction of new implements and crops on farms consolidated from open fields.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Department of Social and Economic Geography, Uppsala University , 2016. , 199 p.
Geographica, ISSN 0431-2023 ; 9
Keyword [en]
Noarootsi, Estonia, cartographical analysis, interdisciplinary study, soil cover change, landscape history, coastal peasants, Estonian-Swedish, feudal manor system, land reform.
National Category
Social Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-272469ISBN: 978-91-506-2527-1OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-272469DiVA: diva2:893985
Public defence
2016-02-26, Autitorium Minus, Akademigatan 3, Uppsala, 10:15 (English)
Available from: 2016-02-04 Created: 2016-01-14 Last updated: 2016-02-04

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