Defining Latvia: Recent Explorations in History, Culture, and Politics Receives AABS Book Publication Subvention

Sep 16, 2021

The AABS Board is pleased to announce that Central European University Press has been awarded the AABS Book Publication Subvention for publishing Defining Latvia: Recent Explorations in History, Culture, and Politics, a volume edited by Michael Loader, Siobhán Hearne, and Matthew Kott.

Michael Loader. ©Michael Loader, 2021.

Michael Loader is a political historian of the Soviet Communist Party, nationality politics, and Soviet Latvia. He received his PhD from King’s College London in 2015 and is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Glasgow and the Assistant Editor of the Journal of Baltic Studies. His publications on Soviet language, education and migration policy, the Latvian national communists, Soviet power struggles and political purges have appeared in several book chapters and in Europe-Asia Studies, Nationalities Papers, and the Slavonic and East European Review.

Siobhán Hearne. ©Siobhán Hearne, 2021.

Siobhán Hearne is a historian of gender and sexuality in the Russian Empire and Soviet Union. She received her PhD from the University of Nottingham in 2017 and is currently a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the School of Modern Languages & Cultures at Durham University. Siobhán has published several articles and book chapters on prostitution, venereal diseases, and pornography in the Russian imperial and Soviet contexts. Her first book, Policing Prostitution: Regulating the Lower Classes in Late Imperial Russia, was published by Oxford University Press in 2021. She is also one of the editors of Peripheral Histories?, a collaborative digital history project exploring ‘peripheral’ spaces in the Russian Empire, Soviet Union, and post-Soviet world.

Matthew Kott. ©IRES, 2015.

Matthew Kott is a historian based at IRES, Uppsala University, specialising in the contemporary history of societies in the Baltic Sea region, Latvia in particular. He has written on a range of subjects including the Waffen-SS, fascism, Stalinist repressions, anti-Semitism and antiziganism, racial science, and migration. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (UK) and the editor-in-chief of Journal of Baltic Studies.

In just over a century, Latvia has transitioned from imperial periphery to nation state, Communist republic, and finally an independent republic following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Defining Latvia brings together the most cutting-edge research on the multiple social, political, and cultural contexts of Latvia throughout this turbulent period. This volume arises from an interdisciplinary conference held at Uppsala University in October 2018 entitled “Latvia at a Crossroads,” which attracted leading political scientists, historians, and area studies specialists from across Europe and North America to mark the centenary of Latvia’s declaration of independence. Following the conference, the organizers and editors of this volume selected the ten most conceptually and thematically ambitious papers to be developed into chapters for this anthology.

This volume moves beyond focusing solely on the political context of Latvia’s turbulent history to incorporate a variety of unique social and cultural perspectives, including the experiences of Latvian mapmakers in the Russian Empire, the participation of Latvians in the Wehrmacht and Red Army during the Second World War, Latvian national communism, and the development of extremist politics following Latvia’s ascension to the European Union. The chapters speak to rapidly developing trends in the fields of history and political science, including the history of antisemitism, language politics, memory, photography, and political extremism.

Defining Latvia makes a significant contribution to Latvian and Baltic studies by bringing together the most current, cutting-edge scholarship by leading researchers in the field.”

The broad chronology of the volume serves to deconstruct the traditional temporal parameters of Latvian history to explore political, social, and cultural changes across political regimes. In Defining Latvia’s temporal breadth—from the nineteenth century to the present—the editors and contributors make an important argument for understanding the construction of Latvian identity as a continuous and and interconnected process across significant political and ideological ruptures.

Latvian studies is a lively interdisciplinary field that brings together researchers from a wide variety of disciplines, including history, politics, sociology, and area studies, working within various different linguistic contexts. Defining Latvia makes a significant contribution to Latvian and Baltic studies by bringing together the most current, cutting-edge scholarship by leading researchers in the field.

Defining Latvia: Recent Explorations in History, Culture, and Politics

Introduction: Latvia and Latvian Identity in Historical Perspective
Siobhán Hearne, Durham University

Part One: Whose Latvia? Formulating Nation, State, and Belonging from the Nineteenth Century to 1945

Chapter 1 Mapping Latwija: Matīss Siliņš and Latvian cartographic publishing in the 1890s
Catherine Gibson, University of Tartu

Chapter 2 The Sokolowski Affair: Testing the Limits of Cultural Autonomy in Interwar Latvia
Christina Douglas and Per Bolin, Södertorn University

Chapter 3 More than a Means to an End: Pērkonkrusts’ Antisemitism and Attacks on Democracy 1932-1934
Paula Oppermann, University of Glasgow

Chapter 4 My Home and My Family Are Now Our Regiment’: National Belonging and Familial Feelings in Latvian Units during World War II
Harry Merritt, Amherst University

Part Two: Latvia in the USSR: Contesting Moscow’s Norms from the Soviet Periphery, 1945-1991

Chapter 5 The Economic Program of the Latvian National Communists – Myth or Reality?
Daina Bleiere, Institute of Latvian History

Chapter 6 Latvia goes Rogue: Language Politics and Khrushchev’s 1958 Soviet Education Reform
Michael Loader, University of Glasgow

Chapter 7 Latvian photography of the 1960s: Between Art and Censorship
Ekaterina Vikulina, Russian State University for the Humanities

Part Three: Semantics and Signifiers: Localizing Labels and Definitions for the Latvian Context since 1991

Chapter 8 Onwards and Upwards! Mainstreaming Radical Right Populism in Contemporary Latvia
Daunis Auers, University of Latvia

Chapter 9 Gaming the System: Far Right Entryism in Post-Soviet Latvian Politics
Matthew Kott, Uppsala University

What is AABS book Publication Subvention?

The AABS awards its Book Publication Subvention of up to $5,000 for individually authored books, edited volumes, and multiple-authored books in English that make a substantial scholarly contribution to Baltic Studies. The applications must be submitted by publishers, not authors. Priority will be given to single author’s first monographs.

AABS awards two Book Publication Subventions each year. Applications may be submitted for review anytime, on a rolling basis.

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