The expatriate Estonian visiting professorship has been created to invite acknowledged researchers of Estonian descent to work at the University of Tartu for at least one semester. The professorship aims to increase the global visibility of the University of Tartu, give its researchers more opportunities to cooperate with top researchers of Estonian descent and allow the students of the University of Tartu to attend their lecture courses.
Visiting professor in the 2020/2021 academic year
Lecturer of history and global studies at the University of California
David Ilmar Lepasaar Beecher
David Beecher is a historian and social scientist of Estonian descent, a lecturer with nearly 20 years of teaching, supervising and curricula development experience from the universities in the United States of America and Europe.
His main research focus is the cultural and intellectual history of Europe and Russia, focusing particularly on the 19th and 20th century. Four central themes emerge in his research: languages, universities, towns and states.
His doctoral dissertation “Ivory Tower of Babel: Tartu University and the Languages of Two Empires, a Nation-State, and the Soviet Union” won the Friends of Cal History Dissertation Prize at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2015.
Scholarship enables David Beecher to do research and teach at the University of Tartu Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies.
When the applicants to the scholarship were considered, David Beecher won the unanimous support from both students, faculties, and members of the expatriate Estonian community.
Rector of the University of Tartu Toomas Asser
Activities of the visiting professor at the University of Tartu
At the University of Tartu, David Beecher will teach two comprehensive lecture courses of interest for students of various curricula. He also plans to publish a monograph written on the basis of his doctoral dissertation, in which he emphasises the meaning of the University of Tartu – the most European university within the sphere of influence of Russia during four centuries – and deals with the development of the University of Tartu in the context of different regimes, various linguistic and cultural influences.
Spring semester 2021
Course “Nations and empires in a globalizing world” (for students)
The English-taught course focuses on the geopolitical situation of the globalising world over a longer period, based on the political theory approaches dealing with nations and empires. The course takes a closer look into the political developments in the late modern period, including the decolonisation of empires into nation-states and the attempts of the most ideologically ambitious imperial nations of the 20th century – Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia, and the USA – to balance the imperialistic and national principles. Course is designed for all students interested in history.
Reflection to mark the Estonian Independence Day “Thoughts of a divided intelligentsia”
"From expat to local. Home and exile: Tartu in me and the world"
On 13 May at 15, in the lecture series "World and Peoples" by the Estonian National Museum, David Beecher will speak about his life as expatriate Estonian and his wish to return to the country and city where his mother was born. Live broadcast in the Facebook channel of the Estonian National Museum.
Presentation to students of Stanford University
"In search of a usable past: memory and forgetting in post-soviet Estonia“, 17 May. Watch the recording
Practical Philosophy Colloquium
"Small town cosmopolitanism: Tartu’s sociological place in the intellectual history of Europe”, 26 May
Seminar of doctoral students of history
“Home and literature in Yuri Slezkine’s book The House of Government”, 28 May
Panel discussion of the annual conference of the Foresight Centre
On 10 June, in the panel discussion of the conference, Annika Uudelepp (member of the Foresight Council), Andrei Korobeinik (member of the Riigikogu), Raimond Kaljulaid (member of the Riigikogu) and David Ilmar Beecher (expatriate Estonian visiting professor of the University of Tartu) will discuss the role of the state in leading societal change. The discussion will be moderated by Lenno Uusküla, Head of Research of the Foresight Centre.
Musical performance at Tartu Karlova Days on 4 June.
Autumn semester 2020
Course “The History of Russia and Europe since 1700” (for students)
The course aims to offer a broader understanding of the history of Russia in the European context, discussing the mutual cultural and intellectual approaching of Russia and Europe from the reign of Peter the Great until today. The main focus of the course is on political, literary, and cultural texts of the 19th and 20th century that explore the common questions and different solutions provided in Russia and Europe to the main problem of the modern world: how to achieve a society based on the integrated ideals of development and democracy. Reading and discussing the key texts also helps to make sense of what is currently going on in Russia and Europe. The English-taught course “History of Russia and Europe since 1700” (course code P2EC.00.090) is aimed mostly at master’s students and runs at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies throughout the autumn semester.
Spontaneous community festival “Nest: creating a home in nature and culture” (public event)
The culture and discussion evening was held in the Karlova district in Tartu on 7 August. Creative performances alternated by discussions about the meaning of home, for instance, whether we create our home or the home creates us, whether home is the same for everyone and what is the poetic and literary image of the Estonian home.
Online exhibition "Three linguists: Julius Mark 130. Julius Mägiste 120. Paul Ariste 115" (exhibition, in Estonian)
The online exhibition led by the University of Tartu library and compiled in cooperation with researchers of Estonian and Finno-Ugric languages introduces three Estonian linguists and Professors of Finno-Ugric Languages of the University of Tartu. After World War II, Julius Mark worked in the USA at Harvard University and Georgetown University, Julius Mägiste in Sweden at Lund University and Paul Ariste in Estonia at the University of Tartu. See the online exhibition.
Musical Quarter-Hour in Tartu St John's Church
On 25 September, David Beecher played five violin pieces at the Musical Quarter-Hour in Tartu St John's Church. Listen to the concert!
Guest lecture “’In God We Trust’: The world’s oldest secular state and youngest God’s nation" (guest lecture)
At the Estonian Business School at Hardo Pajula’s seminar “Great books” on 7 October.
Talk “Language as the hero of our time: empathy and alienation in the linguistic century” (public event)
On 12 October at 16.15 at the seminar of intellectual history of the UT Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics (Jakobi 2-336, Tartu). The seminar of intellectual history is a forum for introducing research results and projects on Estonian and European intellectual history to colleagues, students and wider audience.
Seminar “Major and minor stories of the Estonian diaspora, different meanings and contexts” (for students)
The seminar takes place on 30 October as a part of the course “Estonian Diaspora Abroad: An Archival Studies Perspective” (course code HVAJ.02.010) of the UT Institute of History and Archaeology.
Series of club meetings "Dorpater Dozentenabend" (with invitations)
Dorpater Dozentenabend is a series of club meetings aiming to offer the international research and teaching staff members of the UT more opportunities to meet and exchange ideas. Typically an evening will begin with a talk, followed by a discussion. The events take place once a month and are moderated by the expatriate Estonian visiting professor. Read more about Dorpater Dozentenabend international faculty club season’s opening meeting.
At the club meeting on 22 October, David Beecher made a presentation on "Home and Exile. Tartu's Place in Me and the World"
Virtual celebration of the 101st anniversary of Estonian-language University of Tartu in Toronto
On 29 November, to mark the 101st anniversary of Estonia’s national university, David Beecher delivered the lecture “Home and Exile: Tartu’s Place in Me and the World” to the community of Toronto and expatriate Estonians. David spoke about the concepts of home and exile and their effect on his personal and academic life, view of life, interpretation of history and conveying the concepts while teaching at both Berkeley and Tartu.
/to be updated/
Video playlist of Expatriate Estonian Visiting Professor
See also the video playlist of the UT Expatriate Estonian Visiting Professor on Youtube.
Scholarship for expatriate Estonian visiting professor
The scholarship was created at the University of Tartu Foundation in November 2018. The scholarship is supported by the Foundation of the University of Toronto Chair of Estonian Studies, the University of Tartu Foundation in Toronto, and the Estonian Students Fund in USA.