The Research Group of Contemporary Estonian Culture (NKUT) studies Estonian cultural phenomena from the late Soviet period to the present day. The thematic focus lies on the aesthetic and institutional changes in Estonian culture during that period, and their relation to changes in contemporary political, technological and socioeconomic systems. The group unites researchers from different fields, fostering a comparative analysis of the resonations of these transformations in various artistic practices – literature, visual culture, theatre and film, etc.

A series of conferences and publications under the title “Etüüde nüüdiskultuurist / Studies in Contemporary Estonian Culture”, launched in 2007, has served to explore individual case studies, phenomena and artists from the period in question. The members of the research group have also organized and coordinated a number of international conferences connected to the research topic, such as the 36th annual IAPL conference, “Archaeologies of the future”, in 2012, and the 8th annual symposium of ASAP, “Alternatives to the present”, in 2016.

NKUT was established at the Estonian Literary Museum in 2003 as the culture and literary theory research group. Today, it connects scholars from three universities – the Estonian Academy of Arts, Tallinn University and the University of Tartu: Epp Annus, Luule Epner, Mari Laaniste, Neeme Lopp, Regina-Nino Mion, Virve Sarapik (head of the team), Jaak Tomberg, Sven Vabar and Piret Viires. In earlier years, the team has also included Maie Kalda, Mari Laanemets, Kaia Lehari, Timo Maran, Katrin Puik, Eva Näripea and Kadri Tüür.

The group’s research has been supported by a MOBERC grant for “Development patterns of Estonian contemporary culture” (2016–2017), as well as target financed research themes “Rhetorical Patterns of Mimesis and Estonian Textual Culture” (2008–2013) and “The topology and texture of Estonian literature. [Intersemiotic analysis]” (2003–2007) and other grants.

Starting in 2020, the research group’s work is funded by grant PRG636, “Patterns of Development in Estonian Culture of the Transition Period (1986–1998)”.

Photo: Kaja Pae