A large proportion of Estonian films made after the demise of the Soviet Union invite us to see Estonia and its inhabitants as nationally and culturally “impure,” absorbing various influences, indulging in hybrid styles and identifying themselves through other types of loyalties than those resulting from a shared national heritage, or simply not displaying any national characteristics, being somewhat “neutered.” These films also testify to their transnationalism, as they employ what can be described as “postmodern style,” marked—among other features— by extensive use of quotation and affinity to stylization.
In this sense, it is associated within the fluidity of social institutions and everyday practices, which are often described in terms of creolization, bricolage, cultural translation and hybridity.
Vertovec quotes Stuart Hall, who observes that the production of hybrid cultural phenomena manifesting “new ethnicities” is to be found especially among transnational youth whose primary socialization has taken place with the cross-currents of differing cultural fields.
(Feldman 2000: 413) Other factors conducive to forging Estonia’s transnational identity are the layers of influence of different historical traditions which has been resisted, yet traditions have also played against each other, absorbed and reshaped by Estonian society (see Feldman 2000; Tamm 2008).
The most potent symbol of this absorption is Tallinn’s Old Town, the oldest part of Estonia’s capital city, surrounded by a four-kilometer-long limestone Town Wall.
In addition, Estonia lends itself to transnational treatment due to its position as a border state, its smallness in terms of surface area and population, and dependence on international organizations to ensure its sovereignty (Feldman 2000).
These factors also explain why Estonia, after regaining independence, did not join the path of extreme nationalism observed in many parts of the former Soviet Union and some countries of the old Soviet bloc.
As Gregory Feldman observes: One might expect that the Soviet collapse would create a situation in which exclusive and chauvinistic nationalism would inflate the virtues of Estonian culture, re-awaken the cultural achievements of the past, and blatantly denigrate national minorities.
Instead, the political and cultural shift to the right in the early 1990s was moderated by a series of international and domestic forces that even called into question the validity of such a distinction.
To date, this situation has prevented radical nationalism from taking control of the Estonian political and cultural discourse since the international presence has not been entirely resisted.
International ties are crucial to ensure that Estonia remains outside the sphere of Russian influence, which dampens appeals to exclusive nationalism and makes attractive other identities that align Estonia with larger political and cultural groups.
Among such young people, facets of culture and identity are often self-consciously selected, syncretized and developed from more than one heritage (Vertovec 1999).