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The inter-war land reforms in Estonia, Finland and Bulgaria: A comparative study
Umeå University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Economic History.
2006 (English)In: Scandinavian Economic History Review, ISSN 0358-5522, Vol. 54, no 1, 64-67 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This study compares the development and performance of the interwar land reforms in Estonia, Finland and Bulgaria: three countries within the so-called Agrarian Reform Zone, which constituted previous parts of the Russian and Ottoman Empires heavily influenced by the Russian revolutions. In spite of their different scope and outlook these land reforms aimed at solving similar problems of an agrarian and socio-economic developmental character. Finland and Estonia underwent wars of liberation when seceding from revolutionary Russia: Finland also had to go through civil war before the land redistributions took place. In Bulgaria, however, land redistribution had been an ongoing theme since the late 1870s when autonomy from the Ottoman Empire was achieved. The interwar land expropriation and redistribution was most profound and radical in Estonia. The gradual Finnish reforms were also radical from the perspective of the precarious political situation they aimed at solving. Bulgaria's less thorough reform was nevertheless radical from the perspective of its agrarian ideological aspirations. These land reforms must therefore be seen as a part of the interwar state-building process and struggle for independence: peasant movements were influential in all three cases and geographical proximity to revolutionary Russia had impacts on their outcomes. The study emphasises that by exploring and comparing the profound interwar land redistributions, we can gain a better understanding of current problems, such as those resulting from the post-socialist de-collectivisation: e.g. the return to small-scale family farming by means of restitution, in countries that were subjugated to a command economy after World War II. For this reason interwar Finland's different road and sustained national independence makes an interesting comparison, since Finland shared several features with the land reform zone countries before the Russian revolution of 1917 and not least during the 1920s and 1930s. In the case of Estonia and Bulgaria, however, the development path was interrupted by Soviet expansion.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Routledge, Taylor & Francis , 2006. Vol. 54, no 1, 64-67 p.
URN: urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-4305DOI: 10.1080/03585520600594596OAI: diva2:143333
Ändrat från Submitted till Published 14/8-09.Available from: 2004-12-01 Created: 2004-12-01Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Continuity or not?: Family farming and agricultural transformation in 20th century Estonia
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Continuity or not?: Family farming and agricultural transformation in 20th century Estonia
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This doctoral thesis explores the agrarian development in 20th Estonia and the role of family farming during three major agricultural transformations. It consists of four papers and an introductory chapter for which the common departure are the situation appearing in the Estonian farming landscape after the regained independence in 1991. The first three studies analyse comparative aspects on Estonia's interwar experiences with focus on land reform, agricultural co-operation, and agricultural export development. The fourth study focuses on the role of private plots during the Soviet period and the conversion of these into subsistence holdings after 1991. By merging the perspectives in these papers, the introductory chapter explores the impacts and legacies of previous transformations on the post-Soviet agricultural transformation up to 2004.

The thesis specifically analyses the long-term effects of perceptions of markets and the role of agricultural production, changes in the agrarian property relations, organisation of agricultural production and co-operation. In analytical terms, this is discussed from the perspectives of continuity and discontinuity. Besides the several societal changes affecting the agrarian property relations in 20th century Estonia, the radical and decisive shifts have also affected markets, trade and economic integration. Since the end of the First World War, Estonia has been quickly thrown between different economic-political systems and legal environments. From the perspective of the small state’s dependence on trade and reliance on a few markets, the upheavals in the early 1920s, after World War II, and not least the fall of the Soviet Union, Estonia’s long-term economic development has been significantly affected. In this context the role of agriculture has changed.

Most important, however, this dissertation shows how the idea of small-scale family farming survived throughout the planned economic period and became an indispensable production unit, even though it turned out to be a myth as soon as the Soviet system was dissolved and the exposure to international competition began after 1991.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Umeå: Ekonomisk historia, 2004. 185 p.
Umeå studies in economic history, ISSN 0347-254X ; 30
Economic history, Estonia, agricultural transformation, family farms, private plots, co-operation, kolkhoz, sovkhoz, export markets, land reform, restitution, decollectivisation, subsistence farms, comparisons, Ekonomisk historia
National Category
Economic History
Research subject
Economic History
urn:nbn:se:umu:diva-382 (URN)91-7305-781-9 (ISBN)
Ekonomisk historia, 90187, Umeå
Public defence
2004-12-17, Hörsal E, Humanisthuset, Umeå Universitet, Umeå, 10:00 (English)
Available from: 2004-12-01 Created: 2004-12-01 Last updated: 2009-08-14Bibliographically approved

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