Estonian Identity Construction Between Nation Branding and Building

Keywords: digitalization, Estonia, food, identity, nation branding


Whilst most accounts of nation branding emphasize the economic and diplomatic relevance of the phenomenon, this article examines the way Estonia has been proposing a nation “branding + building” strategy. Drawing from an empirical study of 1) evolving campaigns of Enterprise Estonia; 2) the leverage of the national e-Residency program in attracting foreign investment; and 3) tourist and marketing strategies based on the revisiting of ‘Estonian’ culinary tradition, we look at the way official narratives have been claiming, with the help of nation branding elements, that the country has quickly de-Sovietized and that there is a new understanding of the Estonian nation and “Estonianness”. This is intended to eventually prompt a reflection on the relationship between nation-building and nation branding, which can, in some circumstances, overlap and influence identity construction at the domestic and international level. 

Author Biographies

Abel Polese, Dublin City University, Ireland, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonia,

Abel Polese is a researcher, trainer, writer, manager and fundraiser and the author of The SCOPUS Diaries and the (Il)Logics of Academic Survival: A Short Guide to Design Your Own Strategy and Survive Bibliometrics, Conferences, and Unreal Expectations in Academia, a reflection on academic life, research careers and the choices and obstacles young scholars face at the beginning of their career. He is a member of the Global Young Academy, where he acts as Working Group Leader for the Open Science and Excellence in Science groups.

Thomas Ambrosio, North Dakota State University, USA,

Thomas Ambrosio is a professor of political science at North Dakota State University, USA.  He has published books, articles, and book chapters on ethnic conflicts, Russian foreign policy, geopolitical rhetoric, and autocracy.  His recent publications include works on authoritarian learning, methodological issues involved in studying authoritarian diffusion, the Obama administration's frustrated pivot to Asia, and Russian foreign policy toward the frozen conflicts in the greater Black Sea region.  He has forthcoming edited book chapters on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the post-Nazarbayev transition in Kazakhstan.   His recent research interests have focused on threat perceptions and have led to articles on the impact of Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine and the rise of Russia and China on the United States.

Tanel Kerikmäe, Tallinn Technical University, Estonia,

Dr. Tanel Kerikmäe is a full professor of law of Tallinn University of Technology, and contributes to the field of European law and policies. His research group received significant funding from the EU Commission, etc., and these funds were focused on legal reforms. Tanel has been a contributor to the publishers Springer, Ashgate, Kluwer, Oxford and Cambridge. He has been a leader of or served as an expert in several law- & tech-related research and development projects and has been invited as a visiting speaker to many universities, such as Lucerne University and Lausanne University (to speak on human rights and law & tech), Nagoya University (e-governance and rule of law), TokyoTech, Beijing University and Beihang University (artificial intelligence), Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and Stellenbosch University, and contributed regularly as an expert to the Government Office, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Supreme Court of Estonia.

Research Articles