Seminář: Forecasting Sovereignty: The Role of Expert Languages during the Perestroika in Soviet Estonia

The seminar aims to historicize the long transformation of 1989, by focusing on the role of expert languages in the state-socialist regimes. By „expert language“ I mean a set of concepts, methods, and arguments used by a scholarly community of a particular scientific discipline (e.g. economy, sociology, forecasting, law, etc). In the state-socialism, the expert language functioned both as a resource and a channel for transfering concepts, arguments, and methods from the scientific to the political sphere. Expert languages not only connected scholarly communities by creating a common vocabulary (like cybernetics did during the 1960–70s), but they also enabled to use concepts and methods for political means, as a platform for political innovation. One of its examples was Soviet Estonia, where the forecasting method was used in the radical reform campaign during the perestroika period (1987–88). Creating future scenarios on how to transform Estonia into „economically independent“ republic within the Soviet Union paved the way for the Declaration of Sovereignty in 1988, which initiated similar declarations in other Soviet republics. The seminar situates the Estonian case to the broader Central and Eastern European context. There was a remarkable similarity between some of the forecasters` political careers, especially Edgar Savisaar in Estonia and Miloš Zeman in Czechoslovakia who both entered to politics in the late 1980s. Both men eventually became prime ministers of their countries – Savisaar in 1990 and Zeman in 1998. The seminar looks at this transnational current in the Eastern Europe in the late 1980s – how some of the forecasting experts became top politicians with the help of their professional language? Why did expert languages play different role to the events in the 1988–89 in those countries? How did some of these languages continue to travel (or die out) in the transformation processes during the 1990s?

Hlavní vystupující: Juhan Saharov (PhD), (Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu; Imre Kertész Kolleg, University of Jena)

Pro následnou diskuzi si prosím prostudujte článek From Future Scenarios to Sovereignty Declarations: Estonian Cyberspeak and the Breakup of the Soviet UnionEurope-Asia Studies, vol. 74 (2022), no. 5, pp. 809–831.

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