Martin Nõmm is a PhD student at the Institute of Cultural Research at the University of Tartu, specialising in Estonian literature. His PhD project focuses on examining the notions of belonging and identity in its various expressions within the post-WWII Baltic diaspora (or more commonly known as ‘the exile’) literatures, seeking to build a comparative analysis of said notions on the basis of a variety of texts from novels to life writing and drama. Other endeavours include creative writing, humour studies, and being a regular columnist at a county daily.
On Belonging and Identity in the Post-WWII Baltic Diasporas as Mediated in Fiction and Life Writing
For the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian exile communities that emerged in the aftermath of World War II and the occupation of their respective homelands, the arts became a way to both perpetuate their identity in the free world and to explore the predicaments wrought by the condition of exile. Within the diasporas’ literary scenes, the works that touched upon the exilic experience varied from attempts to recapture and preserve lost homelands to contemplations on trauma and displacement.
In approaching this topic, my interest lies more in the latter and the potential of artistic expression to serve as a platform in exploring perspectives often overlooked in greater narratives and discouraged in public discourse. Literary works that dealt with ambivalent and negative themes, such as assimilation, generational conflict and wartime trauma were often met with a mixed response from the exile communities but still represented experiences present within them.
Using the notions of belonging and identity as focal points in piecing together this picture of literary expressions of the post-WWII Baltic diasporas, I will examine a variety of texts, ranging from novels to drama, fictional to autobiographical, that touch upon ambivalent or even polemical experiences of exile. My project will seek to highlight this important perspective within the Baltic exile narrative and demonstrate recurring similarities in how it plays out within different Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian literary works.
- “How to Resolve the Trauma of Exile? Negotiating Cultural Trauma in Three Baltic Exile Plays from the 1970s North America,” Theatre and Social Responsibility, special issue of Nordic Theatre Studies 34,1 (2022): 34-48, https://doi.org/10.7146/nts.v34i1.137924.
- “The Condition of Exile in North American Baltic Drama,” 8th Baltic Student Conference Bridges in the Baltics, University of Vilnius, October 22-23, 2021.
- “Generational Pressures of Identity and Belonging in the Autobiographical Works of Agate Nesaule and Elin Toona,” 4th International Oral History Conference Generation, Migration and Memory: Narrative and its Transformations, University of Latvia, November 12-13, 2020.
University studies and degrees
- MA in Comparative Literature and Cultural Semiotics, Institute of Humanities, Tallinn University. Master Thesis: “Anna Karenina: Transition from Realist Novel to Romantic Film”.
- BA in English Language and Literature, Department of Philosophy, University of Tartu.