Civilian Volunteers in Public Security and Civil Defence in Estonia and the Nordic-Baltic region

When and Where

Tuesday, March 14, 2023 12:30 pm to 2:00 pm
CG 265
Canadiana Gallery
14 Queen's Park Crescent West, Toronto, ON M5S 3K9


Matthew Light


This is a free event, however, registration is required

Criminology and its cognate social science disciplines generally assume a clear distinction between national security, the province of the military and intelligence services; and public or citizen security, the province of the police and related agencies. However, the national security and public safety institutions of Estonia and its neighbours in the Baltic and Nordic region illustrate how this distinction may not always be fully valid in practice. Based on ongoing research by Anne-Marie Singh (Toronto Metropolitan University) and Matthew Light (University of Toronto, Centre for Criminology & Sociolegal Studies), the presentation will focus on the extensive use of civilian volunteers in Estonia’s policing and civil defence institutions, an institutional design that both blurs the boundary between national and public security and draws citizens into security provision to a degree that is unusual in most western countries. The presentation will analyze the origins of these practices in the history of Estonia and the Nordic-Baltic region and will also address the adoption of a similar institutional approach by the government of Ukraine in its defence against Russian invasion.

About Professor Matthew Light

Matthew Light studies migration control, policing and criminal justice, and public and citizen security, primarily in the post-Soviet region. His book (Routledge 2016) and several related articles on Russian federal and regional migration policies in the aftermath of the breakup of the USSR analyze what forms of freedom of movement emerged in the new post-Soviet Russian state and frames the Soviet and post-Soviet experience with migration management in comparative international perspective. Light’s recent work concerns policing and other aspects of public and citizen security in several post-Soviet countries, including Russia, Georgia, and Armenia, and examines the evolution of both public policing institutions and private provision of security in the region. 

A light lunch will be served at 12:00pm in the Centre Lounge, 2nd floor of the Canadiana Gallery. 

Please note that the location does not have a working elevator. If you are a person with a disability and require accommodation, please contact us at and we will do our best to make appropriate arrangements.


14 Queen's Park Crescent West, Toronto, ON M5S 3K9