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Date Permissions Signed


Date of Award

Summer 2017

Document Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Berardi, Gigi M.

Second Advisor

Laninga, Tamara Jean

Third Advisor

Rossiter, David A.


In 1991, Estonia formally gained its independence following years of public protest against the Soviet Union and its policies. In 1987, Soviet plans to expand phosphate mining operations in Estonia were made public on live television. That year, independence advocates began to incorporate the environmental grievances of protesters, who were concerned with severe and increasing industrial pollution, into underground publications and protest speeches. Protests in 1987 helped lead to the cancellation of Soviet plans to expand open-pit phosphate mining operations in the Rakvere area -- an important headwater region in eastern Estonia. The project’s cancellation by the Soviet government marked a tangible victory for protesters, and mining and pollution-related grievances ostensibly remained a major aspect of the pro-independence agenda for years to come. Yet, despite the Soviet government’s cancellation of the Rakvere project, the Estonian public was not appeased. Although some scholars have indicated that West-influenced environmental rhetoric played a role in the Estonian independence movement’s agenda, my thesis is that nationalistic rhetoric, as propagated in the West by the Estonian American National Council, was more prevalent than environmental concerns, which played a relatively smaller part in the independence movement. Directed content analysis of the Estonian American National Council’s published documents from 1986-1989 yields inconclusive results. However, nationalistic rhetorical themes far outnumber environmental themes throughout the set of documents, suggesting that environmental grievances may have been subordinated to a predominant nationalistic narrative within the documents. Further research could deepen understanding by analyzing a wider set of Estonian and Russian-language documents.




nationalistic rhetoric, environmentalism, content analysis, Estonia



Western Washington University

OCLC Number


Subjects – Names (LCNAF)

Estonian American National Council--Documentation

Subject – LCSH

Phosphate mines and mining--Environmental aspects--Documentation--Estonia; Phosphate mines and mining--Estonia--Public opinion

Geographic Coverage

Estonia--Environmental conditions--History




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