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TRAMES. A Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
ISSN 1736-7514 (Electronic)
ISSN 1406-0922 (Print)
Impact Factor (2022): 0.2
PDF | DOI: 10.3176/tr.2016.4.07

Ken Kalling

Professor of psychiatry Vladimir Chizh was a successor of Emil Kraepelin at the University of Tartu (now: Estonia; then: Russian Empire) during the years 1891–1916. The same period witnessed the second and decisive rise in Estonian national movement leading finally to the foundation of Estonian state in 1918. A particular character in Estonian national discourse was its notorious biologisation, i.e. strong presence of eugenical ideology. Professor Chizh’s scientific research supported this tendency. In 1901 Chizh published a study in which he compared the criminal activity of Estonians and Latvians. Chizh’s method derived from an assumption that the two neighbouring Baltic populations possess an extremely similar environmental, cultural and socio-political background. The biological (racial) essence of the two groups he believed to differ – Latvians belonging to Indo-European nations, Estonians being Finnic. Deriving from the previous – if any differences in the criminal behaviour of the two existed, these could be explained by biological factors. In the results of his work Chizh reported on a notorius disbalance in the criminality of the two nations, Estonians exceeding Latvians in a rough ratio 5:3. Chizh, supporting the teaching of Cesare Lombroso, had achieved in such a way his goal, i.e. he believed that he had proved the biological essence of criminal behaviour. For the Estonian community the study by Chizh opened a subsequent field for further discussions on the topic ‘nature versus nurture’.


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