Extensive disruption and destruction of the everyday lives of civilian populations, often including deprivation of basic physiological and psychological human needs, is a deliberate feature of many forms of political violence. Leena Käosaar will focus on written records - life stories, diaries, and letters - of Stalinist mass deportations from the Baltic States and written life narratives of Ukrainian war refugees in Estonia to discuss how the experience of adversity is narrated via an emphasis on radical change, distortion, and, in most severe cases, almost complete erosion of the everyday. At the same time, the (re)creation of the everyday emerges in the records and narratives as a central means of building resilience and coping with the experience.
Leena Käosaar is the Juris Padegs Postdoctoral Associate for the Baltic Studies Program and an Associate Professor of Cultural Theory at the Institute of Cultural Research at the University of Tartu in Estonia. Her research interests include Baltic women’s deportation and Gulag narratives, women’s diaries and family correspondences, self-representational writing of traumatic experience, relationality, memory, and mobility/the mobility of memory. Since the spring of 2022, she has focused, within the framework of the project “Taking Shelter in Estonia: the Stories of Ukrainians Fleeing from the War,” on collecting the life stories of Ukrainian refugees in Estonia.