I am working on several projects now related to the Estonian Swedish community. It may come as some surprise to you that they a) exist and b) achieved a cultural autonomy in accordance with the Law on the Cultural Autonomy of National Minorities this spring.
That law, adopted in 1925 and again in 1993, enabled citizens belonging to an ethnic group numbering more than 3,000, or members of the national minorities -- Russians, Swedes, Jews, and Germans -- to elect a cultural council to oversee institutions that preserve their culture.
People have said that discussion over the Swedish minority is a distraction from the more pressing issue of talking the Russian minority issue to death. But I am actually finding it quite interesting. In one area, I am confronted with the following questions: how are Estonian Swedes distinct from Estonians and are there some problems in interrelations between ethnic groups.
After turning over these questions, I came to the conclusion that Estonian Swedes do have a certain unspoken minority status in Estonia: they are marginal. No one writes about them. No one thinks about them. They exist, are deemed somewhat exotic, but then forgotten. They are simply unimportant. They are considered similar enough to Estonians to not be constructed as a social problem, and left at that.
I am interested in your opinions though about Estonian Swedes and Swedes. I am badly in need of some 'voices off the Internet' that can discuss how they are viewed in Estonia nowadays. The man of the street would question their existence. But now that they have cultural autonomy, they are definitely contemporary.