The “Baltic Sea region” (BSR) has been employed as a focal point of regional identity in many ways. For instance, in physical and environmental terms as a part of maritime constructions of the region, in institutional terms as representing structures and embedding regional discourses, and in terms of cultural and cross border interaction forming shared regional heritage. These constructions are mediated by numerous narratives which shape our understanding of the world in different societal fields such as jurisdiction, medicine, history writing, religious services, politics and economic policy. Over the past thirty years, stories about the region in public discourse have changed considerably and have become part of the strategic storytelling about a shared past and a promising future of the BSR. The EU strategy for the Baltic Sea region envisages it as the first sustainable region, Hanseatic, imperial and Soviet pasts shape our perceptions of an apparent regional unity, while current security concerns and changes to, for example, energy policies stimulate a reformulation of established discourses about geopolitics within the region. The CBSS summer university addresses openly the strategies used in different narrative constructions of the BSR by actors from the political, economic and cultural domains.
We approach “Balticness” from themethodological angle of “Strategic Narratives” that are used in international relations and other narratological studies of language, literature and history. The participants will be invited to open up discursive spaces and jointly develop tools for an academic dialogue to discuss and co-create new knowledge on “Balticness”. By analysing examples from political, economic and everyday storytelling, the participants will reflect on available theories and disciplinary patterns including theorizing on the power of mythology and post-modern mythmaking, for instance in the creation of ideologies, campaigns and brands.
Participants will be trained to understand narrative strategies as a novel means of investigating identity construction related to the BSR. Which narratives are relevant for determining the past and current perceptions of the BSR? What kind of social, cultural, political, ecological and economic agency do these narratives possess (in the past, present and future)? Do different narratives with distinct effects exist alongside each other?
Comparing the concept of “Balticness” to other ideas forming transnational identities, like “Nordicness,” “Scandinavism,” “Pan-Slavism,” “Hanseatic,” etc., we aim to include political strategies, societal reflections, economic necessities and cultural identities. All of them are represented in countless narratives continuing, changing and re-creating myths that naturalize worldviews through language.