The Ohio State University at Newark

Annus Receives Estonian Award for Research

March 31, 2021

The Ohio State University at Newark Lecturer Epp Annus, PhD, received a 2021 Estonian National Research Award. She was recognized “for development of a philosophical-methodological paradigm for Soviet postcolonial studies and for her research in Soviet societies and cultures.”

The Estonian National Research Awards are presented annually by the government of Estonia for excellent research results by Estonian researchers and research teams. Annus was the recipient in the category that highlights the best research work completed and published in the field of humanities during the previous four years.

“My research concerns politics and culture in the Soviet Union, with a special focus on the Western parts that were annexed into the USSR after WWII. I am interested in relations between Soviet state policies and local cultures,” said Annus. “I research what I call the ‘topography of the possible’ in the Soviet era: How, I ask, did people understand their possibilities of self-actualization in their everyday lives?”

To research the Soviet Borderlands, Annus developed a new methodological framework. The result was the publication of the monograph Postcolonial Studies: A View from the Baltic Borderlands (Routledge, 2018). A revised and expanded version of the monograph was published in the Estonian language and a Russian translation is forthcoming.

For her next project, Annus has begun exploring strategies of Soviet “subject-formation” — how people came to adopt certain understandings of themselves and their world and their possibilities — in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

She explained, “Present-day scholarship on Soviet subjectivities typically foregrounds the impact of state ideology upon people’s thoughts and it generally equates the Soviet Union with Russia. Yet there were about a hundred different ethnicities in the Soviet Union! So for this project, I consider what happens when we talk about Soviet subjecthoods, but without giving Russia a special status or centrality.

“And I start not from Soviet ideology and party politics, but instead take account of many different factors in subject formation: the role of natural and manmade environments, cultural and family-related layers of memory, everyday practices, and even material objects in the home.”

Annus received a PhD in Estonian Literature from Tartu University in Estonia in 2002 and then began teaching at Ohio State Newark in 2006. She teaches a variety of Russian, Slavic and comparative studies courses at Ohio State Newark.

“One very special class these days is called Soviet Space Age (Slavic 3333),” she mentioned. “On April 12, we will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first manned space flight in human history, by the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. We will hold a celebratory seminar together with Columbus-campus Slavic and international studies students — the Zoom era has opened new possibilities for such events.”

Photograph by Krõõt Tarkmeel.

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