Changing Traditions, Changing School Lore: Comparative Folklore Research in Belarus, Estonia, Hungary, Slovenia


The aim of the project is to analyze contemporary school lore and other contemporary forms of folklore (e.g. riddles, proverbs, memes), their usage and dynamics in order to detect playfulness and creativity in the (new) formats they take and address the way they reflect on the social reality that gives rise to them. The project applies a new dynamic comparative approach from cross-cultural as well as diachronic and synchronic perspectives, offering a unique and innovative perspective in folklore studies of Belarus, Estonia, Hungary, and Slovenia. As a result of this cooperation project a new framework of methods for comparative and cross-cultural study of folkloristic forms will be created.


The research of folklore texts has a long and internationally acknowledged tradition in Estonia, with the Estonian Folklore Archives and the Department of Folkloristics (both within the Estonian Literary Museum, Tartu) as centers of such research, publishing large volumes of academic publications, developing comprehensive digital databases and organizing lectures and conferences on digital humanities. In the framework of this project, ELM will apply the Estonian system in the Belarusian, Hungarian and Slovenian archive context and create thus a comparative research platform. The project will create a new framework of different methods for the comparative and cross-cultural study of folkloristic forms. Combining qualitative and quantitative methods of linguistics and folkloristics allows us to analyze the results of the project from various perspectives. The project also observes the development of contemporary socio-cultural processes on the basis of lore repertoire of schoolchildren.

One of biggest benefits would be the exchanging the material in four languages (Finnic and Slavic language groups), which enables deeper and better comparative researches in the future. The project emphasizes the importance of children and youth lore in the world culture. We want to show that folklore is not a bunch of forgotten traditions but a living and dynamic part of our culture that has a place in our life and identity also in the future. In a way the project participants act as messengers: they rise broader awareness of the trends of children and youth folklore, educate local communities, try to detect and show common features in folklore of the participating countries and the reasons (e.g. political, societal, cultural) that stand behind these features.

The project carries through joint campaigns of collecting lore material in schools in Belarus, Estonia, Hungary and Slovenia, which will result in a publication of research results in a collection of articles.
2018-2020Collecting school lore, fieldwork (questionnaries in web and interviews in schools) in Hungary and Slovenia; additional interviews in Estonian schools,
2020Joint conference (in Tartu, Estonian Literary Museum).
2021-2022Joint publication, special issue on high impact peer review journal (6-7 research articles).