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Hybrid seminar „Challenges in exploring the Arctic: historical maritime exploration and current realities“

5.05.2021

14:00-17:00 (EE time)

Embassy of Estonia, Stockholm, Tyrgatan 3/3a and on the web https://polarseminar.worksup.com/

In 2020, two significant maritime anniversaries were celebrated in Estonia. First, the discovery of Antarctica by Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen (1778-1852) on 28 January 1820 and second, the 250th birthday of the great explorer Adam Johann von Krusenstern (1770-1846), born on 19 November 1770. Both explorers were of Baltic German origin born in Estonia.

However, the first half of the 19th century saw other great Baltic German explorations, notably in the Arctic region. Otto von Kotzebue’s (1787-1846) expedition to find the Northwest passage in 1815-1818, Ferdinand von Wrangell’s (1797-1870) expedition in 1820-1824 to the coast of Northeast Siberia to find a possible connection between Asia and North America, as well as Friedrich Benjamin von Lütke’s (1797-1882) Novaya Zemlya expedition in 1821-1824 to chart Russia’s coast in the Barents Sea all played a significant role in the geographical sciences and cartography.

Currently, Estonia is applying for observer status at the pre-eminent forum dedicated to international cooperation in the Arctic – the Arctic Council. Estonia as a close neighbour of the Arctic is keen to participate in guaranteeing the sustainable development of the Arctic – a common commitment to a region rapidly transformed by climate change. 

For these reasons, the Estonian Embassy in Stockholm and the Estonian Maritime Museum will hold a hybrid seminar on the topic of the Arctic. We intend to look at historical events and current developments in the Arctic region, e.g. climate change, and security together by asking how past developments have influenced the present. The seminar emphasises a specific chapter of the close cultural and scientific cooperation of the two countries – celebrating a century of diplomatic relations between Estonia and Sweden.

Mr Marko Mihkelson, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Estonian Parliament, will deliver a keynote speech at the opening of the event.

The first panel will look at the historical perspective of discoveries and research in the Arctic region. It is common knowledge that Krusenstern was a leading figure in Russia’s great maritime ventures and that his work strongly influenced Baltic German naval officers in Russian service, who explored different parts of the world. However, what is the link between the explorations of Krusenstern and Otto von Kotzebue or Ferdinand von Wrangell? The work and achievements of men associated with contemporary Estonian territory highlights Estonia’s historical ties to the Arctic.

Mr Urmas Dresen, the Director of the Estonian Maritime Museum, will talk about Estonian seamen on the Arctic Ocean and Siberian rivers in the second half of the 19th century. Mr Dresen will be followed by Dr Feliks Gornischeff, researcher at the Estonian Maritime Museum, who intends to look at Krusenstern’s interests in the Arctic, and Kotzebue’s and Wrangell’s explorations in the Arctic. Leaning on family archives in the Kalmar Museum, Mr Otto von Krusenstierna, the Chairman of the Swedish Family von Krusenstierna Association, will speak about the well-known Krusenstiernas in Sweden and about the Von Krusenstierna Family Archives in the Kalmar Museum, especially its collection of Adam Johann’s documents, letters and objects. The panel will be concluded by a presentation by the Director of the Swedish Army Museum, Dr Stefan Lundblad. He will talk about Swedish maritime and polar expeditions in the 19th century. Thus, the historical aspects of both Baltic German (Russian) and Swedish maritime exploration will be acknowledged and compared.

The second panel fast-forwards into the present day. Dr Katarina Gårdfeldt, Director-General of the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat, will talk about the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat and the current situation of polar studies in Sweden. Ms Maris Pruuli, Boatswain of S/Y Admiral Bellingshausen on the Antarctica 200 expedition, will talk about the current expedition to the

Arctic areas. Reti Ranniku, a doctoral student at the University of Tartu, will speak about the role of the Arctic in climate change research, adding a modern hands-on-aspect to the seminar.

Dr Hele Kiimann will discuss Toward Just, Ethical and Sustainable Arctic Economies, Environments and Societies by introducing her research on Arctic field research stations in Greenland, Sweden and at the Nunavut Research Institute in Iqaluit, Canada. Last but not least, Ms Katrin Savomägi, CEO of the Estonian Polar Club, will talk about Estonian polar researchers in the past, present and future and polar activities at the Estonian Maritime Museum.

PROGRAMME  

(EST time)

14:00   Opening of the seminar

Mr Margus Kolga, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Estonia to the Kingdom of Sweden

Mr Marko Mihkelson, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Estonian Parliament (Riigikogu)

14:20   Historical perspective of discoveries and research in the Arctic region

Prof. Dr.a.D. Hain Rebas

The general 19th century exploratory background: Who? Where? Why?

14:30   Mr Urmas Dresen,Director of the Estonian Maritime Museum

Estonian seamen on the Arctic Ocean and Siberian rivers in the second half of the 19th century

14:45   Dr Feliks Gornischeff,Researcher at theEstonian Maritime Museum

Adam Johann von Krusenstern’s legacy in the research of the northern polar regions

15:00 Lt Col (ret.) Otto von Krusenstierna,Chairman of the Swedish Family von Krusenstierna Association

Von Krusenstierna family in Sweden and the von Krusenstierna Family Archives in the Kalmar Museum

15:15   Dr Stefan Lundblad,Director of the Swedish Army Museum

Swedish maritime and polar exploration in the 19th century

15:30   Q&A

15:40   Challenges in exploring the Arctic: current realities

Dr Katarina Gårdfeldt, Director-General of the Swedish Polar Research Secretariat

Swedish Polar Research Secretariat and a short overview of current polar research programs in Sweden

15:55   Ms Maris Pruuli, Boatswain, of S/Y Admiral Bellingshausen

Antarctica 200 and The Arctic – expeditions popularising the sensitive topics of climate change, pollution and maritime safety

16:10   Reti Ranniku, Doctoral student at the University of Tartu

The Role of Arctic in Climate Change Research – Past, Present and Future

16:20   Dr Hele Kiimann, Researcher at Uppsala University; Head of Research at the Estonian Maritime Museum

Arctic field research stations and knowledge production – from global to local environmental monitoring and assessment

16:30   Ms Katrin Savomägi, CEO of the Estonian Polar Club

Polar activities at the Estonian Maritime Museum: Estonian polar researchers in the past, present and future          

16:45   Q&A, conclusions

17:00   End of the seminar