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Paris Pin-Yu Chen (UCL)

Paris Pin-Yu Chen

pin-yu.chen.15@ucl.ac.uk

Race Science, Eugenics, & Student Fraternities: Tracing Right Radical Ideological Roots in Interwar Estonia

Race Science, Eugenics, & Student Fraternities:
Tracing Right Radical Ideological Roots in Interwar Estonia

Supervisors: Dr Egbert Klautke Platonov (UCL), Dr Mart Kuldkepp (UCL)

My research examines the under-studied links between radical right organisations with student fraternities in interwar Estonia. I intend not only to explore how Estonian fraternities functioned as platforms for the circulation of Estonian radical right ideologies, especially those borrowing the biological vocabulary of race science and eugenics, but also how the very nature of student fraternities – close-knit, patriotic, full of youth energy – provided a fertile ground for radicalism. The fine line between patriotic values and ultranationalist sentiments will be carefully interrogated.

On top of the more well-known German examples, recent studies also trace radical right movements in interwar Latvia and Finland to student fraternities and organisations. Based on this comparative framework with neighbouring countries, my project seeks to answer the curious finding from my previous research; namely, that those members of the Estonian Nationalist Club (ERK) who campaigned for certain issues often shared the same fraternity background.

My research relies on interwar Estonian radical right publications by the Vaps movement and the ERK, as well as fraternities’ yearbooks, protocols, and their members’ memoirs, to reconstruct the ideological background and to interpret their radical nature. This will allow me to analyse to what extent the policy-making of the authoritarian regime (1934-1940), such as the eugenic-based sterilisation law and the estonianisation campaign, had its roots in right radical movements and student fraternities.

Research interests: early 20th-century intellectual history; right radicalism; nationalism; race science; eugenics; Estonia.