Ene Selart (University of Tartu, Estonia) “The Development of the Yellow Peril Discourse in the Estonian Media from 1890s up to 1905”


The paper centres on the development of the discourse of the Yellow Peril concept in the Estonian media (Estonian language newspapers) from 1890s up to the Russo-Japanese war (1904-05). In the end of the 19th century, the concept of the hazard rising from the Orient in the shape of yellow race getting upper hand in the world was quite distant for the Estonians, although there were some editorial articles that covered the issue in newspapers and it was a popular topic of public debate in Europe. The war between Czarist Russia and the Japanese empire (1904-05) engulfed also Estonia into the discussion of Yellow Peril and Asian threat, as the military conflict involved some 8,000 Estonian men conscripted to the Russo-Japanese war. Suddenly a distant problem became very close and brought along different articles covering the matter. By the research method of text analysis, the editorial articles, travelogues, letters from the readers etc. have been studied for the paper. The main emphasis of the study is on the development and changes in the depiction of the Yellow Peril concept in the timeline, and how it was altered by the influence of international events and the Estonians’ own experiences from the war and from travelling to Japan. The study also shows what foreign influences are visible in this discourse and how does it reflect the general public sentiment in the Estonian media during this time period.