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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 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 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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