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Posted on Sep 9, 2018

Emerging Scholar investigates history of the Latvian Communist Party

Arvīds Pelše, who became First Secretary of the Latvian Communist Party in 1959 after the conflict with the national communists, was seen as eminently reliable by Moscow, becoming only the second Balt to join the Politburo in 1966. Yet, little is known about the man, his career, personal life or his patronage relationship with his benefactor, the Soviet chief ideologue Mikhail Suslov. Due to his persecution of Latvian culture and his Russophile nature, he is reviled in Latvia and his impact on the history of Latvia, the LKP and the Soviet Union during the Brezhnev era is wholly understudied in any language. An AABS Emerging Scholar research grant has allowed me to conduct extensive research in archives and library in Riga about the career of this Soviet Latvian statesman over the past year. I conducted two research trips using the resources provided by the AABS grant. During the first, I analyzed the full manuscript of Nikolai Kreier’s unpublished, 525-page Russian language biography of Pelše entitled “The Truth About Arvīds Pelše,” the only copy of which is held at the Museum of...

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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 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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Posted on May 12, 2015

Imagining a Baltic-Nordic World: A Biography of Aleksander Kesküla

Mart Kuldkepp, Tartu University, is the 2015 recipient of the AABS Emerging Scholar Award. His project is a biography of the Estonian politician Aleksander Kesküla. In Estonia, Kesküla is notorious as one of the most radical leaders of the 1905 revolution, but internationally he is primarily known for being the first to bring Lenin to the attention of the German General Staff in 1914 and for mediating as a German agent between the Germans and the Bolsheviks in their joint attempt at “revolutionizing” Russia. At the same time, Kesküla was also trying to fulfill his own Baltic-Nordic political aims which included drawing Sweden into the First World War on the German side and having it liberate Finland and Estonia from Russia. He imagined that, after the war, Sweden and the other Scandinavian states, Finland and Estonia, would establish a Nordic Union with King of Sweden as its head. Mart explains how the Emerging Scholar award will support this project: As documents concerning Kesküla’s activities during World War I are...

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Posted on May 5, 2015

Congratulations to 2015 AABS Grant Recipients!

  AABS announces the recipients of 2015 fellowships: Research Grants for Emerging Scholars Mart Kuldkepp, Tartu University Jānis Grundmanis Postgraduate Fellowship for Study in the U. S. Elina Ruka, Columbia College, Chicago The Aina Birnitis Dissertation-Completion Fellowship in the Humanities for Latvia Indra Purs, Latvian University of Agriculture Mudīte I. Zīlīte Saltups Postgraduate and Post-Doctoral Fellowship Anete Vitola, University of...

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Posted on Feb 10, 2015

The Consequences of Playing the Compatriot Card

Dr. Jennie Schulze, assistant professor of Political Science at Duquesne University, received an AABS Emerging Scholar award in 2012. Her project focuses on how Russia’s kin-state activism influences decision-making surrounding minority policies in Estonia and Latvia. Estonia and Latvia have been primary targets of Russia’s Compatriot Policy. The restrictive citizenship and language polices they adopted in the early 1990s ultimately disenfranchised their large Russian-speaking minorities. Russia has used a variety of tools in the name of protecting its compatriots including military and economic pressures, historical aggravation, border agreements, citizenship policy, international organizations, media campaigns, cyber warfare, and the funding and organization of protests. Concerns over Russia’s influence in Estonian and Latvian society have been escalating in recent years, particularly in the wake of mass protests over school reform in Latvia in spring 2004 and the Bronze Soldier riots in Estonia in April 2007. Both are evidence of Russia’s increasing use of soft power strategies to co-opt Russian-speakers in order achieve its political objectives. Russia’s activism is particularly worrisome in...

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