Metanoia workshop

80 years have passed since the signing of Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and 30 years since the Baltic chain, the latter marking the beginning of the Estonian nation’s march to freedom. It is hardly a revelation that the Estonian past is wounded. In Estonia the wounds of the past have become memorialised in stone, in words and in museum exhibits. History of totalitarianism is taught at schools. However, this memorialisation often omits metanoia, reconciliation and forgiveness. Metanoia implies a capacity to go beyond current perceptions of the whole and calls for the change of current narratives of trauma. In a society where some carry the stigma of being the sons and daughters of perpetrators and others are descendants of the victims, there is a need for dialogue and deep transformation of the dominant narratives of trauma and suffering. This workshop aims at addressing some of these questions: is there a need for reconciliation in Estonian society which is not marked by violence or social discontent? At which level should the process of reconciliation take place (top down or bottom up)? What are the roles of the churches and religious actors in the process of reconciliation?

The workshop is a follow-up to the conference that took place in March 2019 in Tallinn and Laulasmaa and which was supported by Renovabis foundation and Estonian Council of Churches. Some presentations from the conference are available on the PJK youtube channel. This is the first in a series of workshops conceived as part of a broadly defined theme of ‘teaching metanoia’ and will serve as a consultation with experts as to the directions in which this project should develop.

The main objectives of the workshop are to determine what are the current narratives and practices of reconciliation in Estonia, compare it to the European context, work out the main directions for advancing dialogue, explore the problematic areas and to provide advice for teachers and developers of teaching materials. While an academic publication is not the main objective of the workshop, it is envisaged that some presentations may be published as a special issue in a humanities journals in Estonia or outside.  

We invite scholars, pedagogues and community leaders to reflect on these issues in order to rewrite the narratives, find language to speak about the past to different communities and impact educational practises.

There is a practical dimension to this workshop. We aim to provide teachers with instruments for teaching values not in an abstract way, but instead through the use of historical examples and stories of people who are close to the childrens’ own experiences, following the Vygotsky principle of ‘the zone of proximal development’. These instruments include web-based resources for teachers, which will eventually be available in both languages, Russian and Estonian. The methodology of the existing projects, such as The Forgiveness Project (UK), which use restorative narratives, will be applied to these materials. The narratives will be collected through the experts (for example, oral history or autobiographical materials), through solicited interviews and through students’ project work.

We would like to include positive examples from the work of Christian organisations to give inspiration and awareness. These materials will emphasise both the principles of Christian social ethics in relation to reconciliation and forgiveness and provide concrete examples from the work of the Christian organisations that work in this direction.


29 October Vabamu Conference hall  

09:00-09:30 Opening  

9:30 -10:00

Tiina Kirss, senior researcher, Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics, University of Tartu, Estonian Literary Museum

Remembering and Reconciliation through Writing and Reading Life Stories. 


Raili Nugin, researcher, Institute of Landscape and Culture, Tallinn University 

Rejecting, re-shaping, rearranging: Ways of negotiating the past in family narratives 


Elmar Gams, Estonian Institute of Memory, the director of the project Kogumelugu

Kogu Me Lugu Oral History Portal: Collection of Life Stories and Their Use in Learning Process 

11:00-11:30 Coffee break  


Heiko Pääbo, assistant professor, John Skytte institute of political research, University of Tartu

Healing wounds in post-traumatic society: political and social discourses in Estonia 


Wolfgang Wagner, guest professor, Institute of Psychology, University of Tartu 

Estonian Purity: A Fantasy that Forfeits the Future 


Marianna Makarova, doctoral candidate, University of Tallinn

History, identity and belonging: insights for overcoming historical conflict in Estonia 

13:00-14:00 lunch (opportunities for lunch, at own expense, are available nearby outside Vabamu,

here and here)


Anne Kull, professor, School of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Tartu

Toward Another Future: Dangerous Memories and Nonviolent Christianity 


Joanna Kulska, assistant professor, the Institute of Political Science and Administration at University of Opole

When politics in not enough: the role of faith-based actors in Polish-German reconciliation. 


Dr. Rev. Antony Borisov, associated professor of Moscow Theological Academy, priest at the Holy Mandylion church (Deulino, Moscow region)

Reconciliation as a necessary condition for the further development of Russian society - in the light of biblical thought and pastoral theology 

15:30-16:00 Coffee break


Nadezhda Beliakova, senior researcher, Institute of World History, Russian Academy of Science

What can we learn from the history of the foundation Pro Oriente (Austria)? Searching reconciliation with the Eastern churches during the Cold War  

30 October

 Arvo Pärt Centre (by invitaion only. Expressions of interest are welcome)

11:00 – 13:00 Discussion  

13:00-15:00 Lunch and excursion

15:00-16:00 Concluding remarks, departure to Tallinn

registration is open here