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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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Posted on Sep 6, 2016

Baumanis recipient investigates history of Lutsi-speakers in Latvia

Uldis Balodis received the first AABS Baumanis grant to document the current state of villages historically inhabited by Lutsi Estonian speakers, as well as to conduct archival research in Tartu, Estonia and Helsinki, Finland on the work of Oskar Kallas, the original researcher of the Lutsi Estonians (Lutsis). The Lutsis are a little-known ethnic minority group in rural parishes surrounding the city of Ludza in eastern Latvia (Latgale), the members of which still spoke their own dialect of South Estonian until very recently. Balodis’ book, entitled In Kallas’ footsteps in Lutsimaa, will retrace the journey of Oskar Kallas through this region through extensive photography of village communities and interviews with village residents. The historical language of the Lutsis is most similar to that of the present-day Seto minority of southeastern Estonia and their ancestors most likely came to Latgale from Estonia approximately three to four centuries ago. The project will introduce this little-known minority group in Latvia to a wider audience – Estonians, Latvians, and English speakers interested in linguistics,...

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Posted on Jun 16, 2016

Food Culture in the Baltic States receives Vitols Award

The Vilis Vitols Award for Best Article published in the Journal of Baltic Studies went to Diana Mincyte and Ulrike Plath for their editorship of and short introduction to special issue 46.3: Food Culture in the Baltic States. The award is usually presented to a writer of a specific article; however, the awards committee received so many positive comments from readers about the food issue that it decided to break with tradition and honor the editors. Every article in this issue speaks insightfully and eloquently to a topic that previously has not received much attention in the field of Baltic...

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Posted on Jun 16, 2016

AABS Awards Book Prize to Power of Song

Guntis Smidchens’ The Power of Song: Nonviolent National Culture in the Baltic Singing Revolution (University of Washington Press) received the 2016 AABS book prize. Smidchens expertly depicts how music, specifically singing, was used as a form of nonviolent resistance to Soviet force by Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians during the period preceding independence. The book is meticulously researched, with more than 110 choral, rock, and folk songs used to support the thesis and illustrate the richness and beauty of Baltic song. Interested readers can acquire the book through Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/ or directly from the University of Washington Press website at...

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Posted on Mar 14, 2016

AASTEEL Awards Translation Prize to Kaija Straumanis

The American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Studies presented the 2016 award for Best Translation into English to Kaija Straumanis for High Tide, her translation of Inga Abele’s Latvian novel Paisums (2008).  The novel takes place over three decades, told in reserve chronological order from post-Communist Latvia through the time of the Awakening and back to the Communist period. What impressed the judges about Kaija Straumanis’s translation is the lyrical quality of the lines. This is a novel that reads like poetry. Logic is given a long leash in a prose that is evocative and electric. Abele’s is a performative prose in which words call for one another, and Straumanis succeeds in finding the words that both issue and answer that call. But just as resonant as the language of the novel, is the depth of the emotions it portrays and elicits. High Tide is published by Open Letter Pres, (Rochester, New York:...

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Posted on Sep 29, 2015

JBS, Vol. 46, Issue 3, 2015

  Journal of Baltic Studies Special Issues: Food Culture in the Baltic States Exploring Modern Foodways: History, Nature, and Culture in the Baltic States by Diana Mincytė and Ulrike Plath Good, Clean, Fair… and Illegal: Paradoxes of Food Ethics in Post-Socialist Latvia by Guntra A. Aistara Geographies of Reconnection at the Marketplace by Renata Blumberg Changing Values of Wild Berries in Estonian Households: Recollections from an Ethnographic Archive by Ester Bardone and Piret Pungas-Kohv “Is that Hunger Haunting the Stove?” Thematization of Food in the Deportation Narratives of Baltic Women by Leena Kurvet-Käosaar The Evolution of Household Foodscapes over Two Decades of Transition in Latvia by Lani Tranouth and Talis Tisenkopfs The Making of the Consumer? Risk and Consumption in Europeanized Lithuania by Ida Harboe Knudsen Atlantic Herring in Estonia: In the Transverse Waves of International Economy and National Ideology by Kadri Tüür and Karl...

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