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Posted on Feb 26, 2019

Art, Artists and 19th c. Colonialism in the Baltic Provinces

Bart Pushaw received a 2018 Dissertation grant to complete archival research for his dissertation in Latvia. He will complete his PhD in Art History at the University of Maryland this spring. My dissertation “The Global Invention of ‘Art’: Race and Visual Sovereignty in the Colonial Baltic World, 1870-1920” investigates visual art as a realm of multiethnic cooperation and decolonial possibility, revealing how images and the ability to assume the power of image-making were pivotal to changing the strict social stratifications of the Baltic Provinces. Most importantly, I completed archival research about Emīlija Gruzīte, the first Latvian woman to become a professional artist. While I have accessed many primary source documents about her in Latvian newspapers through the portal Periodika, there nevertheless existed a veritable treasure trove of non-digitzied material which I could only access in person in the archives of the Art Academy and other files at the National Library. These sources, including her autobiography and miscellaneous photographs (of pivotal importance of course for scholars of visual culture!), played a key...

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Posted on Feb 21, 2019

Dissertation grant supports archival research on LGBTQ history in Soviet Baltic

Feruza Aripova is a PhD Candidate in World History at Northeastern University, Center Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University and a Visiting Scholar at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University. My dissertation project, tentatively titled “Silencing of Same-Sex Desire in Post-Soviet Space: Deconstructing the Soviet Legacy,” investigates the legacy of same-sex violence in carceral spaces and its profound impact on public perception of associating homosexuality with crime; as well as the medical establishment that subjected individuals with same-sex attractions to psychiatric treatment in the 1950s through the 1980s. Furthermore, it examines the ways in which legal and medical regulations enabled and constituted “alternative” spaces for same-sex desire in the 1960s through late 1980s. By “queering” the Soviet ideological narrative, it seeks to investigate fragments of same-sex existence, subjectivities, spaces and local and transnational networks. I am immensely grateful to the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies for the financial support which allowed me to complete my archival research in Latvia. I...

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Posted on Feb 17, 2019

The Baltic Question and the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Una Bergmane is a Baltic Sea Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia and a London School of Economics Fellow in Cold War History. She holds a PhD from Sciences Po Paris with highest distinction. Una received a 2018 Emerging Scholar Award to conduct research for her book project at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. The aim of this trip was to conduct research for my book project “The Politics of Uncertainty: the US, the Baltic Question, and Collapse of the Soviet Union” based on my doctoral dissertation. My first objective for the current trip was to gather material that would provide the overall picture of the US attitudes toward the Soviet disintegration process, thus allowing to contextualize the US reactions to the Baltic claims for independence. Previously declassified documents from collections such as Records on the Dissolution of the Soviet Union and Records on U.S. Policy Toward Post-Coup Soviet Union/Former Soviet Republics provided very interesting information. Policy papers gave useful insights into...

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Posted on Sep 9, 2018

THESIS BALTICANA | A Project in Development

Zane Onckule, recipient of 2017 the Jānis Grundmanis Postgraduate Fellowship, has concluded her first year studies at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (she is scheduled to complete a Master of Arts program in Spring 2019). She describes the curatorial project that she is developing for her master’s degree. THESIS BALTICANA will cast light on, narrate, analyze and poeticize the ever-obscure concept of the Baltics, which are comprised of three countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – all celebrating the centennial of their national Independence in 2018. Maximizing the implicit notion of AMERICANA that comes along with the socio-political framework and geography of the United States this project largely “denounces” the concept of the Nation State and will re-brand the notion of the Baltics, introducing instead the concept of BALTICANA. THESIS BALTICANA will be based on case studies of peculiar (selected) historic, sociopolitical, artistic, and popular culture realities turned into metaphors, keywords and eventually shaped into stories fit for public events, written text or a display of artifacts....

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Posted on Sep 9, 2018

Emerging Scholar investigates history of the Latvian Communist Party

Arvīds Pelše, who became First Secretary of the Latvian Communist Party in 1959 after the conflict with the national communists, was seen as eminently reliable by Moscow, becoming only the second Balt to join the Politburo in 1966. Yet, little is known about the man, his career, personal life or his patronage relationship with his benefactor, the Soviet chief ideologue Mikhail Suslov. Due to his persecution of Latvian culture and his Russophile nature, he is reviled in Latvia and his impact on the history of Latvia, the LKP and the Soviet Union during the Brezhnev era is wholly understudied in any language. An AABS Emerging Scholar research grant has allowed me to conduct extensive research in archives and library in Riga about the career of this Soviet Latvian statesman over the past year. I conducted two research trips using the resources provided by the AABS grant. During the first, I analyzed the full manuscript of Nikolai Kreier’s unpublished, 525-page Russian language biography of Pelše entitled “The Truth About Arvīds Pelše,” the only copy of which is held at the Museum of...

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Posted on Aug 12, 2018

Vilis Vītols Article Prize Winners for 2016 and 2017

AABS awards the Vilis Vītols prize to the best article each year published in the Journal of Baltic Studies. 2017 Prize: “Liberals and nationalism: E. H. Carr, Walter Lippmann and the Baltic States from 1918 to 1944” by Kaarel Piirimäe. The review committee commented that this “article that touches on all three Baltic states, but in its discussions of geopolitics and the history of the perceptions of nationalism, it has implications beyond the field of Baltic studies. It is also well written and accessible to non-specialists.” 2016 Prize: JBS 47/1, A Postcolonial View on Soviet Era Baltic Cultures (special issue) edited by Epp Annus. In awarding the 2016 prize to a special issue of the Journal of Baltic Studies, the committee commended it as “a theoretically rich collection of articles exploring three Baltic...

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