In the thread entitled Modern Greenlandic writing, David suggests that the postcolonial debate has affected many aspects of culture, mostly negatively. I would like to break a lance for a postcolonial approach when looking at Scandinavia and certainly Estonia, as long as we are clear what a postcolonial approach entails.
I fear that the type of postcolonial studies taught at many universities focusses a great deal on the British Empire, where the Britons are the baddies, robbing the indigenous population of raw materials, and the local people the goodies, seeking liberation. The fact that Britain did bring education, health care, law and order, etc., to the developing world gets conveniently forgotten. A second serious flaw in this type of postcolonialist examination is that the subject often looks at the world through the prism of those who come from, or were educated in, the metropolitan countries. So, subliminally, colonial attitudes are indeed perpetuated.
Postcolonial studies, if expanded to include ethnology, history, geo-politics, psychology, and other subjects beyond literature, could be a fruitful way of looking at Scandinavia and the Baltics. But if postcolonial studies does indeed deteriorate into a crude and uncritical bashing of the colonial power, assuming the indigenous peoples to be angels and the colonists all robbers and power-hungry plotters, then it is a non-starter. Nor would I like to see Scandinavian literature used in the same way as English literature is, as a quarry from which to dig out chunks of one-sided anti-colonialist proof.
Obviously, the big boys in Scandinavia over the centuries were Denmark and Sweden. Equally obviously, Norway, Iceland, the Faroes, Greenland, Finland, Estonia, Livonia, Greifswald, northern Poland, etc., were not always so thrilled at being the underdog. But the dilemma in modern times is whether any given colony can "go it alone" and become a viable economic and political entity if it becomes independent, within or without the framework of the EU. This debate is being held in Scotland right now, as I believe. The same tricky debate envelops the Faroes and Greenland.
Where literature (i.e. belles lettres) can come in is as an indicator of mood, opinion and action - and examine the psychology of key players and minor figures. But on its own, given the subjective attitudes of many writers, literature cannot stand alone as the only subject through which to examine the history of an empire or a specific epoch.