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Posted on Mar 6, 2018

Documenting the lives of contemporary Baltic poets

Viktorija Jonkutė, recipient of the 2017 Baumanis grant award, describes her documentary film Closer to the Land beyond the River, which will premier on May 22. Closer to the Land beyond the River (Lith. Arčiau žemės anapus upės, La. Tuvāk zemei viņpus upes) is a full feature documentary film, revealing the connections of the lives and creative works of two talented, famous contemporary Baltic poets: the Lithuanian Vladas Braziūnas and the Latvian Knuts Skujenieks. “I have been connected with Lithuania all my life. The sense of community undefined by words is the most important thing” – K. Skujenieks, from the collection of poems Iʼve Visited Far (La. Es pabiju tālos ciemos, 2004). The recipient of the Order of the Lithuanian Grand Duke Gediminas and laureate of many other international awards, Skujeniekshas spent his childhood near the Latvian-Lithuanian border, savoring the memory of the Skujenieks family during the years of the First World War in Lithuania. V. Braziūnas – another child of Lithuanian-Latvian border, translator of K. Skujenieks’ poetry, the winner of the...

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Posted on Sep 13, 2017

Theories of the Prehistoric in a Cold War Context

Rasa Navickaitė, PhD Candidate at Central European University, received an AABS dissertation grant for her project “The Pre-Historic Goddess of the Cold War: Transnational Life and Reception of Marija Gimbutas.”  She tells us about the research she conducted in California this summer: My dissertation is an intellectual biography and reception history of Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994) – a renowned Lithuanian-American archaeologist and an advocate of the controversial hypothesis of the peaceful, egalitarian, matristic, and matrilineal pre-historic civilization of Old Europe. Gimbutas left a wealth of scholarship, from her early works on the Bronze Age Europe, the Balts and Lithuanian folklore, to her later, much debated works on the culture of Neolithic Old Europe and its Goddess-centered religion. Her oeuvre and her charismatic personality made Gimbutas a source of inspiration for various socio-political movements between 1970s and 1990s: from the American Goddess spirituality movement, to the anti-Soviet Eastern European ethnocultural movement, to post-socialist Lithuanian feminism. Despite Gimbutas’ intellectual influence on the both sides of the Iron Curtain, and her reputation as...

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Posted on Jul 2, 2017

Transnational Approach to Cold War Immigration

Pauli Heikkilä, who received his PhD from the University of Helsinki, was the 2016 AABS Emerging Scholar. My research deals with the political emigrants from Eastern Central Europe in the US during the Cold War, and especially their international cooperation, where the Assembly of Captive European Nations (1954-1972) was the most prominent organization. As my research focuses on Estonians, it has naturally expanded to their closest national groups, Latvians and Lithuanians. Despite old antagonisms, the emigrants wanted collaboration in their fight against the common enemy, the aggressive Soviet Union occupying or otherwise ruling their home-countries. Whereas the ultimate goal was to restore national independence and liberal democracy, a more solid international and European organization was considered a parallel objective. Therefore various plans for regional and continental unions were floated especially in the 1950s. Thanks to the Emerging Scholar Award I was able to complete my archival studies at the Immigration History Research Center by the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. The archives of the ACEN was taken there at the...

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Posted on Apr 12, 2017

Developing new techniques for teaching English language vocabulary

Baiba Kačanova received the 2016 Aina Birnitis Dissertation-Completion Fellowship in the Humanities for Latvia. In March, Baiba received her PhD from the University of Liepaja. I am an English teacher and I have been teaching English as a second language for about 14 years in Latvia. I really enjoy the process of teaching by looking for the most suitable methods, materials and approaches for each group because each group is different and a method which works well in one group might not be suitable for the other group. The most interesting thing is to find the right method and words to motivate students to study hard J  It is also very pleasant when I meet my students about 5 years later – they have already finished school and they appreciate the knowledge they got in my lessons. Then most probably I am doing it right. My point of view is that the teacher can’t just stop and say “now I know everything I need.” There always should be a process...

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Posted on Feb 19, 2017

Fellowships at Yale University’s Program in Baltic Studies

Yale University’s Program in Baltic Studies invites applications for two fellowships of variable duration (four to nine months) during the 2017-18 academic year.  The Fellows will be expected to be in residence in New Haven, to participate in the activities of the Yale Baltic Studies Program, and to make at least one public presentation at Yale during the period of the fellowship. The stipend for 2017-2018 is expected to range between approximately $3,600 and $4,000 per month, plus benefits such as medical insurance.  Review will begin on April 1, 2017. The Joseph P. Kazickas Post-Doctoral Fellowship for citizens of Lithuania Detailed information and a link to the online application is available here. The Juris Padegs Research Fellowship for citizens of Latvia and Estonia Detailed information and a link to the online application is available...

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Posted on Nov 5, 2016

Song and Dance and Integration in Latvia

Indra Ekmanis 2016 AABS Dissertation Grant recipient “Latvian culture” is inescapably tied to “Latvian identity,” both colloquially and in policy language. Acceptance of and respect for Latvian culture is also a cornerstone of Latvian integration legislation, which is particularly geared toward individuals speaking Russian as their first language. With the support of the AABS Dissertation Grant, my research focuses on minority participation in Latvian cultural life, particularly through the National and Youth Song and Dance Celebrations. These UNESCO-recognized festivals are a keystone of “Latvian identity,” but participation is not limited to those with “latvietis” stamped in their passport. Particularly in the school youth format, the Celebrations provides a mechanism for minority students to access a form of Latvian cultural identity that can affect their relationship to the Latvian state and “nation.” This extends beyond the days of the festival into the years prior through preparation in school choirs and folk dance collectives. The AABS Dissertation Grant has helped to fund the continuation of my fieldwork in Rīga and rural...

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