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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 Oct 7, 2015

Imagining A Place for Jews in Interwar Lithuania

  Michael Casper, a doctoral candidate in History at the University of California, Los Angeles, received a 2015 Dissertation grant from AABS. Michael’s dissertation explores how Jews negotiated the demands of citizenship and national belonging in the interwar Republic of Lithuania. I am interested in how Jewish and Lithuanian thinkers imagined the Jewish place in the new democratic state and, after 1926, under the authoritarian regime. With the generous assistance of the AABS Dissertation Grant I was able to conduct extensive research in Vilnius this summer. I worked at the Martynas Mažvydas National Library, Vilnius University Library and the Lithuanian Central State Archive...

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Posted on Jun 18, 2015

Socialist Ideas & Estonian Intellectuals in Late 19th c.

Mark Moll, a Central Eurasian Studies Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University, received a 2015 AABS Dissertation Grant to investigate the spread of socialist ideas among the Estonian intelligentsia in the late 19th century. Centered in the university town of Tartu, several members of the radical underground, like Jüri Jaakson, Mihkel Martna and August Rei, went on to achieve prominent positions within the interwar Estonian Republic. The grant will finance a research trip to the Estonian Historical Archives and the manuscript collection of the Estonian Literary Museum in Tartu. My research focuses on the men and women in turn-of-the-century Estonia whose radical experiences as first as students, then as journalists, led to the push for Estonian political autonomy via a syncretic fusion of nationalism and socialism in 1905 during the first Russian Revolution. An analysis of the network of these activists reveals the importance that developments abroad played in shaping the discourse at home and helps contextualize the role of Estonians within the larger Russian revolutionary...

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Posted on May 17, 2015

Mercenaries, Economy, and Society in the Late 16th c Baltic

Joseph Sproule is a History Ph.D. candidate at the University of Toronto, where his research focuses on the early modern Baltic. He is the recipient of a 2015 AABS Dissertation grant, which will support travel this summer to Tallinn and Stockholm. Joseph will conduct archival research at the Tallinn City Archives and the National Archives of Sweden, each of which holds rich collections of original documents of value to his project, such as correspondences, soldiers’ contracts, and military payment lists. We asked Joseph to tell us about his project. My dissertation explores the role of mercenaries in the late sixteenth-century eastern Baltic, particularly the hiring, pay, and regulation of these soldiers in Tallinn/Reval during the Livonian War of 1558-1583. The mercenary’s value lay in his capacity for violence, but harnessing and directing that violence was often a challenge for early modern authorities beset by powerful enemies and struggling to meet the crippling costs of prolonged conflicts. My archival research provides a window into the fractious relationships between the Livonian...

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Posted on May 5, 2015

2015 AABS Dissertation Awards Announced

AABS has awarded three grants to support doctoral dissertation research and write-up in any field of Baltic Studies.  Congratulations to the 2015 AABS Dissertation Fellowship recipients! Joseph Sproule, University of Toronto Michael Casper, University of California, Los Angeles Mark Moll, Indiana University...

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Posted on Jan 21, 2015

An Oral History of Second Generation American Estonians

After doing extensive archival research on American Estonians at the Immigration History Research Center and Archives as a University of Minnesota Fulbright scholar, Maarja Merivoo-Parro realized the need to do interviews as well. A 2014 AABS dissertation grant will allow Maarja, a PhD candidate at Tallinn University, to conduct an oral history project with Estonians living in the states of California, Oregon and Washington. My research is focused on the second generation of refugee Estonians in Cold War America. I am interested in the people who had no memories of Estonia proper but were taught everything they knew about the country and its people through formal, informal and non-formal educational activities. Some of these activities were community-based, others relied on relationships within the family, and yet others were more individualized. I chose the Pacific coast because it is an underrepresented region in the context of Estonian diaspora...

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