Alumni of the Month, February 2024

This month we feature Marek Tamm and Ekaterina Gruzdeva as the HCAS Alumni of the Month!
Marek Tamm

I am professor of cultural history at Tallinn University, where I also serve as the Head of the Centre of Excellence in Intercultural Studies. I am a member of both the Estonian Academy of Sciences and Academia Europaea. My primary areas of research include the cultural history of medieval Europe, the theory and methodology of history, digital history, and cultural memory studies. My recent book publications include The Fabric of Historical Time co-authored with Zoltán Boldizsár Simon, published by Cambridge University Press in 2023, The Companion to Juri Lotman: A Semiotic Theory of Culture, which I edited with Peeter Torop (Bloomsbury, 2022), and A Cultural History of Memory in the Early Modern Age co-edited with Alessandro Arcangeli (Bloomsbury, 2020). Currently, I am leading a five-year research project entitled "Digital Livonia: For a Digitally Enhanced Study of Medieval Livonia (c. 1200–1550)", which is funded by the Estonian Research Council.

I had the pleasure and privilege of spending the Autumn term of 2013 at HCAS as a Kone Foundation Fellow, working on my research project "History as Cultural Memory: Towards an Estonian Mnemohistory". My tenure at the Collegium was outstanding, both professionally and personally. The collegial spirit and intellectually stimulating environment at HCAS afforded me the chance to expand my knowledge across a variety of topics and disciplines. During this time, I was able to edit a volume entitled Afterlife of Events: Perspectives on Mnemohistory, which was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015. Without the resources and time provided by my fellowship, completing this work on schedule would have been rather challenging.

Ekaterina Gruzdeva

My two-year period as a Core Fellow at HCAS started in September, 2019, and ended in August, 2021. This was so far the longest period that I have been able to devote to intensive research, free of the time-consuming teaching and administrative obligations of my regular position as a Senior University Lecturer at the University of Helsinki. Not surprisingly, the Collegium corresponded in every respect to my best expectations: it offered a refreshing and stimulating environment in which I could work in a multidisciplinary international atmosphere. While focusing on my own research project I was at the same time able to benefit from the experiences of my colleagues working on very different topics. A good example of this fruitful diversity was the project “Down by the Water” in which I participated, and which resulted in an international seminar and an important collective publication. Now it continues in the form of a joint academic course.  

One aspect that I particularly appreciated about the Collegium was the smooth and unbureaucratic way in which it was administered. This gave all of us an opportunity to enjoy academic freedom at its best. The only unfortunate experience I had was the Covid pandemic which almost exactly coincided with my research period. It substantially reduced the daily personal contacts that otherwise are an essential part of activities at the Collegium. For myself this also meant that I was unable to use the resources that would have been offered to me for field work and conference travels. From this point of view my period at the Collegium remained unfinished, and I can only hope that someday I would be given another opportunity to enjoy the benefits of the Collegium without restrictions.