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Posted on Feb 21, 2019

Dissertation grant supports archival research on LGBTQ history in Soviet Baltic

Feruza Aripova is a PhD Candidate in World History at Northeastern University, Center Associate at the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Harvard University and a Visiting Scholar at the Harriman Institute at Columbia University. My dissertation project, tentatively titled “Silencing of Same-Sex Desire in Post-Soviet Space: Deconstructing the Soviet Legacy,” investigates the legacy of same-sex violence in carceral spaces and its profound impact on public perception of associating homosexuality with crime; as well as the medical establishment that subjected individuals with same-sex attractions to psychiatric treatment in the 1950s through the 1980s. Furthermore, it examines the ways in which legal and medical regulations enabled and constituted “alternative” spaces for same-sex desire in the 1960s through late 1980s. By “queering” the Soviet ideological narrative, it seeks to investigate fragments of same-sex existence, subjectivities, spaces and local and transnational networks. I am immensely grateful to the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies for the financial support which allowed me to complete my archival research in Latvia. I...

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Posted on Feb 17, 2019

The Baltic Question and the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Una Bergmane is a Baltic Sea Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute in Philadelphia and a London School of Economics Fellow in Cold War History. She holds a PhD from Sciences Po Paris with highest distinction. Una received a 2018 Emerging Scholar Award to conduct research for her book project at the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library in College Station, Texas. The aim of this trip was to conduct research for my book project “The Politics of Uncertainty: the US, the Baltic Question, and Collapse of the Soviet Union” based on my doctoral dissertation. My first objective for the current trip was to gather material that would provide the overall picture of the US attitudes toward the Soviet disintegration process, thus allowing to contextualize the US reactions to the Baltic claims for independence. Previously declassified documents from collections such as Records on the Dissolution of the Soviet Union and Records on U.S. Policy Toward Post-Coup Soviet Union/Former Soviet Republics provided very interesting information. Policy papers gave useful insights into...

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Posted on Sep 9, 2018

THESIS BALTICANA | A Project in Development

Zane Onckule, recipient of 2017 the Jānis Grundmanis Postgraduate Fellowship, has concluded her first year studies at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (she is scheduled to complete a Master of Arts program in Spring 2019). She describes the curatorial project that she is developing for her master’s degree. THESIS BALTICANA will cast light on, narrate, analyze and poeticize the ever-obscure concept of the Baltics, which are comprised of three countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – all celebrating the centennial of their national Independence in 2018. Maximizing the implicit notion of AMERICANA that comes along with the socio-political framework and geography of the United States this project largely “denounces” the concept of the Nation State and will re-brand the notion of the Baltics, introducing instead the concept of BALTICANA. THESIS BALTICANA will be based on case studies of peculiar (selected) historic, sociopolitical, artistic, and popular culture realities turned into metaphors, keywords and eventually shaped into stories fit for public events, written text or a display of artifacts....

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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 Jun 17, 2018

Feminine and Masculine in the Poetry of 20th c. Latvian Women Poets

Anna Auziņa, University of Latvia, was awarded the 2017 Birnitis fellowship for “Woman’s Experience and Language in Vizma Belševica’s, Ārija Elksne’s and Monta Kroma’s Poetry”  As a poet, I was interested for a long time in why sometimes I am given an award for showing a “woman’s world” in my poetry, while no male poet is praised for showing a specifically “man’s world”. When I turned to academic life, my main interests were gender and poetry. I saw that several important Latvian women poets are not yet enough studied. Since I was interested if woman poets use language in a specific way, I decided to write a dissertation about the key women representatives of 20th century Latvian poetry: Vizma Belševica, Ārija Elksne and Monta Kroma. Vizma Belševica is probably the most famous of them, nominated for a Nobel Prize and translated into English, Swedish and many other languages. Belševica’s poetry is both modern and connected with folklore and history. Belševica was most severely persecuted by the Soviet regime for formalism...

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Posted on May 29, 2018

Imagining Soviet Childhood through Estonian and Latvian Film

Liina-Ly Roos, recipient of a 2017 AABS Dissertation Grant Award, received her PhD this spring from the Department of Scandinavian Studies at the University of Washington. The AABS Dissertation Grant allowed me to travel to Estonia and Latvia in the Fall 2017 to gather material for my dissertation chapter “The Temporal Child and Soviet Everyday in Baltic Imagination.” I was able to watch all the films at the Estonian Film Archive that I would not have been able to access in Seattle, and as I had recently established contacts with the Latvian Film Museum, I was very fortunate to be able to visit the museum and acquire several of the films to take with me. I was also able to purchase some films and books from the stores in Tallinn and Riga (recent publications connected to the topic of my research). I also made good use of the National Library of Estonia, the National Library of Latvia, the Academic Library and Art Academy Library in Estonia. it was crucial...

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