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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 May 1, 2017

Historical institutions → Culture → Socioeconomic development

  Alise Vitola is a post-doctoral researcher, graduated from the Riga Technical University, Latvia. She received a 2016 Mudīte I. Zīlīte Saltups Award for a research visit to Indiana University for her project “Institutions & Regional Development in the Baltic States”. In my research I focus on the regional institutional differences in the Baltic region. I explore the lasting effects of the historical institutions on the contemporary economic development and societal values by exploring a following sequence: Historical institutions → Culture → Socioeconomic development. Currently I study the long run effects of the historical German presence in the Baltic region. Are localities with a higher share of German historical population more inclined to be wealthy today? Did the German colonizers bring individualist values such as high levels of work ethic, self­initiative and trust? Furthermore, I explore the overlapping German, Swedish, Polish and Russian legacies as an additional basis for divergent development paths in the Baltic regions. With the AABS research grant I was able to visit the Indiana University,...

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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 20, 2017

Baltic Germans Diplomats in Imperial Russia

Feliks Gornischeff, recipient of a 2016 AABS Dissertation grant, tells us about his research in Moscow archives for his dissertation on Baltic German diplomats in the service of Imperial Russia during the Napoleonic Wars. My research concentrates on the role of Baltic German diplomats in the service and diplomacy of the Russian empire during the reign of Alexander I. During the 18th and 19th centuries, Baltic Germans played an important role in Imperial Russia. After the incorporation of the Baltic provinces into the Russian empire, many Baltic Germans noblemen were appointed to positions in the Russian military and civil service. While many aspects of Baltic German service have already been researched, but their role in diplomacy has been left at the background. In my research, I am exploring the work of two diplomats – count Gustav Ernst von Stackelberg (1766-1850) and count Christoph Heinrich von Lieven (1774-1839), who served in Prussia in 1806-1809/1810 and 1810-1812 respectively. As the wider focus of my dissertation deals with the Napoleonic Wars, my...

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Posted on Dec 5, 2016

Towards a Deeper Understanding of Online News Commenting

Asta Zelenkauskaite is an assistant professor of Communications at Drexel University.  She received a 2016 AABS Emerging Scholar award for research travel to Lithuania for her project “Commenting Practices in Baltic Online News Portals.” Online news portals increasingly represent spaces where anyone can comment on traditional news stories. Thus online commenting is not only a new public sphere, but it is also a new terrain for ideological battles to shape opinions regarding specific issues (especially controversial ones) through government-sponsored mechanisms or by providing monetary rewards to users for commenting. First and foremost, the Emerging Scholar grant allowed me to visit Lithuania and engage with readers of news portals to understand the interpretation of online commenting on news portals. This grant has helped me to validate initial observations regarding data collection through informal interviews with Lithuanians who are actually engaging in online discussions or reading them. While travelling in Lithuania, I had a chance to talk to the people who use online comments – as a source of additional reflection...

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