From the narrative of suffering to the value of freedom: What does it mean to rebuild a museum within the memory landscape of a former Soviet Union republic?
In this presentation, Merilin Piipuu will examine Estonian public media discussions surrounding the Museum of Occupations’ plan to refocus its permanent exhibit and rename the institution as the Museum of Freedom. She also will analyze the reception of the museum’s initiative to show a temporary exhibit about gay history in the Soviet Union. Piipuu will situate these initiatives in the historical context of Estonia and other former Soviet Union countries as well as in the memories of different generations and marginalized groups in Estonia, asking how these latter fit into a narrative of suffering.
Stanford undergraduate students Ben Gardner-Gill and Rebecca Cheng, who served as interns at the Museum in the summer of 2016 as part of the Stanford Global Studies internship program, will join Piipuu’s presentation to provide insights into these questions and talk about their experiences at the museum.
As the Managing Director of the Museum of Occupations in Tallinn, Estonia, Merilin Piipuu’s main task is to turn the museum into a must-see destination for the people of Estonia as well as for the visitors of the country. Merilin has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Politics from the University of Essex. During her academic career she has mainly focused on the interaction between human beings and technology, having also done fieldwork in New Zealand, Iceland and Nepal. Throughout her studies, Merilin has contributed more than 10 years to the development of Estonian civil society. She has led many NGOs and written a book titled “Eestimaa Eeskujud” (Estonian Role-Models), focused on civil society initiatives of young people in Estonia. Merilin is also one of the founders of the Estonian Centre of Applied Anthropology.