Tais Leite de Moura: USP SPECTRESS Fellow in Estonia

A snowy January day in Tartu

A snowy January day in Tartu

My name is Tais Leite de Moura, I am a Master Degree student in Brazil at São Paulo University, and my exchange experience from the SPeCTReSS project was in Tartu, Estonia. My dissertation is focused on the novel The God of Small Things (1997), from Indian writer Arundhati Roy, and the transgressions of the small characters in the plot. I use Cultural Trauma on my research by analyzing the post-independence period in India, and how this social change affected (or not) the Dalit population, causing a trauma in this group and then causing a rebellious attempt to overcome it.

From December 27th, 2016 to January 28th, 2017 I studied and did research at Tartu University. My activities included: meetings with lecturers, participation and a short presentation at a miniseminar on Memory and Trauma, attendance at “Places and Processes of Pilgrimage, Past and Present” Symposium and at “Living Memories” Seminar. Besides that, I’ve researched books and articles at the library database and visited museums and places of memory in Tartu.

Tartu University Administration building on a foggy day

Tartu University Administration building on a foggy day

I was very well received in Tartu: by the faculty employees, professors, and one student in particular who even invited me to spend the New Year’s Eve with her! These people guided me through the snowy streets of this charming city; lent me university books; took me to the theater to watch an Estonian play; all in all, helped to make my stay enjoyable and pleasant. Besides, the locals were always helpful and most of them spoke English, as it is a second language there. Although it is a small country compared to Brazil, Estonia has a lot of history and culture to offer.

After meeting lecturers whose research is focused on Cultural Trauma in the country, visiting places as the Estonian National Museum – with expositions dedicated to memory – and the archive of the Estonian Literary Museum, and talking to Estonians, it was possible to understand how their own Cultural Trauma (the deportations of thousands to the Russian gulags in 1941, and being under the power of the Soviet Union power for decades) has, and still is shaping their society and history.

Testimony of Estonians from the Estonian National Museum

Testimony of Estonians from the Estonian National Museum

My experience in Tartu was incredible, interesting, and has certainly added much content to my research. This experience was even prolonged in August, 2017, when the lecturers I had met earlier that year (Ene Kõresaar and Kirsti Jõesalu) came to Brazil for the SPeCTRess event “Rethinking Cultural Trauma from Transnational Perspectives”, visited the school where I work, talked to my students in English and explained a little about the Estonian history and culture. It was simply amazing, and the perfect ending for an unforgettable trip.

Ene and Kirsti, Estonian scholars, visiting a Brazilian school

Ene and Kirsti, Estonian scholars, visiting a Brazilian school


About Jennifer Edmond

Dr Jennifer Edmond, is the Director of Strategic Projects in the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at Trinity College Dublin. Trained as a scholar of German literature, Jennifer is mostly engaged professionally with the investigation of knowledge exchange and collaboration in Humanities research and in particular the impact of technology on these processes.
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