AABS Awards Best JBS Articles for 2018 and 2019

Apr 9, 2020

AABS announces that it has selected three Journal of Baltic Studies articles to receive the 2018 and 2019 Vilis Vītols Article Prize. The Vilis Vītols annual award of $500 is presented to the author of the best article in a given year of the Journal of Baltic Studies. The best article is selected by a committee appointed by the AABS board. Priority is given to articles that encompass more than one Baltic country and thus expressly represent Baltic studies. The winners of the Vilis Vītols Article Prize are announced once in every two years.

The articles awarded with the Vītols award have been made freely accessible online by Taylor & Francis, the publisher of Journal of Baltic Studies, and can be found by clicking on the article links below. The articles will remain freely accessible until December 31, 2020.

AABS congratulates the winners of the 2018 and 2019 Vītols award and thanks all scholars who continue to publish articles and book reviews in JBS.

Saulius Sužiedėlis (2018) The International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania: successes, challenges, perspectives, Journal of Baltic Studies, 49:1, 103-116, DOI: 10.1080/01629778.2014.937906

The article summarizes the history of the International Commission for the Evaluation of the Crimes of the Nazi and Soviet Occupation Regimes in Lithuania and outlines the work it has accomplished to date. The author reviews the problems and controversies surrounding the Commission’s research into the post-1940 period of Lithuania’s history and describes the clashing perspectives inherent in the starkly different Lithuanian, Jewish, Western and Soviet wartime narratives.

Keywords: Lithuania, World War II, Nazi occupation of Lithuania, Holocaust, Soviet occupation of Lithuania, war crimes, International Historical Commissions

Saulius Sužiedėlis is Professor Emeritus of History at the Millersville University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Sužiedėlis received his PhD in history and Slavic studies at the University of Kansas in 1977. In 2013 he received an honorary doctorate from Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas for his work in Holocaust studies and the humanities. He edited the Journal of Baltic Studies from 1994 to 1998 and was president of the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies from 2002–2004. In 2007–2010, he served as director of the annual Millersville University Conference on the Holocaust and Genocide. He is the author of books which include The Historical Dictionary of Lithuania as well as The Persecution and Mass Murder of Lithuanian Jews during Summer and Fall of 1941 (together with Christoph Dieckmann). Dr. Sužiedėlis is the author of more than 60 research articles, reports, and reviews.

Marharyta Fabrykant (2018) National identity in the contemporary Baltics: comparative quantitative analysis, Journal of Baltic Studies, 49:3, 305-331, DOI: 10.1080/01629778.2018.1442360

This paper is about contemporary national identity attitudes in the three Baltic states as ethnic democracies. It presents the results of a quantitative comparative study using data from the International Social Survey Program, collected in 2013. The parameters of comparison include the perceived importance of various national identity criteria and the pride in a nation’s achievements in various spheres. The results show that Baltic national identity focuses not on ethnic homogeneity, but on commitment and loyalty, to reflect upon the current situation more than the historical past, and to have the potential for the integration of ethnic minority members. In particular, the research findings demonstrate that language appears among institutional, and not ethnocultural criteria, suggesting that in the Baltics learning to speak a country’s language more likely reflects not the preservation of collective cultural heritage, but the individual commitment to the country. Investing time and effort into mastering a language of a small country, a skill that is highly unlikely to be of much use outside that country, might function as what economists call a “costly signal” of loyalty and willingness to belong and contribute to the country in the future.

Keywords: National identity, national pride, nationalism, Baltic states, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, ethnic democracy

Marharyta Fabrykant is a Senior Research Fellow at the National Research University Higher School of Economics and an Associate Professor at the Belarusian State University. She holds a PhD degree in sociology since 2017 and in social psychology since 2018. She conducts comparative research on national identities and national history narratives with a focus on the bottom-up demand for and perceptions of national identity politics. She has taught courses on the Belarusian national identity in comparative perspective as an Erasmus+ visiting lecturer at the University of Tartu (2016) and Justus Liebig University Giessen (2019). Her most recent main publications include Russian-speaking Belarusian Nationalism: An Ethnolinguistic Identity Without a Language? (Europe-Asia Studies, 71(1), 117-136), Dynamics of National Pride Attitudes in Post-Soviet Russia, 1996–2015 (Nationalities Papers, 47(1), 20-37, o-authored with V. Magun), “Do It the Russian Way”: Narratives of the Russian Revolution in European History Textbooks (Slavic Review, 76(3), 741-752), and Small state imperialism: the place of empire in contemporary nationalist discourse (Nations and Nationalism, 22(1), 103-122, co-authored with R. Buhr).

Liene Ozoliņa (2019) Embracing austerity? An ethnographic perspective on the Latvian public’s acceptance of austerity politics, Journal of Baltic Studies, 50:4, 515-531, DOI: 10.1080/01629778.2019.1635174

Latvian austerity policy following the 2008 economic crisis has been touted as a success story by some and critiqued as a socially costly experiment by others. It has remained a puzzle, however, how such harsh socio-economy policies were possible without causing sustained popular protests. Drawing on ethnographic research at an unemployment office in Riga in the aftermath of the crisis, this article considers austerity as a political and moral phenomenon. I argue that welfare policies played an important role in disciplining the parts of the population most adversely affected by the crisis by framing post-crisis precarity as a matter of individual responsibility. Furthermore, this disciplining worked because it was underpinned by a particular moral discourse that I call ‘a discourse of freedom.’ Thus, this historically and culturally-shaped moral economy helped not only secure the implementation of post-crisis austerity in a way that yielded little sustained public resistance but also helped legitimate it.

Keywords: Austerity, political ethnography, activation, workfare, moral economy, moral individualism, neoliberalism, Latvia

Liene Ozoliņa is a political sociologist and her research interests span political ethnography, social theory, state-citizen relationship in post-socialist societies, political subjectivity formation, and links between politics and ethics. She works as a course tutor in sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and holds a PhD from the LSE, a MSc from the University of Amsterdam and a BA from the Latvian Academy of Culture. Her first book, Politics of Waiting: Workfare, post-Soviet austerity, and the ethics of freedom, was published in 2019 by Manchester University Press. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Latvia following the 2009 global economic crisis, the book examines waiting as a form of power and a form of subjectivity in post-Soviet neoliberalism. Her research has been published also in British Journal of Sociology, Slavic Review, and East European Politics and Societies.

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The $250 award recognizes academic papers on Baltic Studies based on originality, scholarship, excellence in writing and quality of engagement with the subject area. Faculty members at the college and university level are invited to nominate undergraduate papers once in every two years. The 2020 awards recognize papers written as class assignments in 2018 or 2019.

AABS congratulates the winners of the 2020 Undergraduate Paper award and thanks all faculty members who submitted nominations.

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