Piret Noorhani (VEMU / Estonian Studies Centre, Toronto) / Estonian Literary Museum, Tartu)
It has repeatedly been stated that it is difficult to get an overview of the Baltic diaspora’s cultural heritage, as the archival collections and the information relating to them are so scattered. At the end of World War II, 200,000 nationals of the three Baltic countries (including 70,000-90,000 Estonians) fled the Soviet occupation and left their homelands. When earlier emigration is taken into account, it is clear that all three Baltic countries have notable diasporic communities. Their decades-long cultural engagement has produced voluminous collections of archival records.
The historic shift in the late 1980s and early 1990s was accompanied by a technological one. At the same time as Estonia regained its independence, the world was going digital. The Internet with all its possibilities of virtual communication and networking has helped revive scattered communities around the globe. People’s thinking regarding where and how the cultural heritage of the Estonian diaspora should be preserved and made accessible has also changed.