The issue includes a special section, “Nation-building in the Baltic states: thirty years of independence,” by guest editors Peter Rutland and Raymond Taras, featuring an introduction and articles on national identity and re-identity in post-Soviet Estonia; sovereignty and political belonging in post-Soviet Lithuania; and integration in Latvia.
The issue also includes three book reviews and a list of recently published Baltic titles.
The gender-specific examination of migration decision-making and remittance behavior among Latvian emigrants
Guido Sechi, Zaiga Krišjāne, Māris Bērziņš & Elīna Apsīte-Beriņa
This article stems from a gender-specific examination of migration decision-making and remittance behavior as a proxy for the creation of gendered transnational spaces when faced with macro-economic challenges in Europe. The research is quantitative and includes the analysis of 2,702 Latvian migrants in receiving countries. Gendered transnational spaces for women manifest themselves in remittance behavior and are influenced more by emotional attachment; in contrast, men are more inclined to send monetary remittances. Prior supervenience stems from emigration decision-making, where economic issues, the search for opportunities, and family and education-related aspects are all relevant to men and women respectively.
Military spouses in contemporary Estonia: meaning making in the stories of the wives and partners of active servicemen
Tiia-Triin Truusa, Kairi Kasearu & Judit Strömpl
The article concentrates on understanding military spouses in contemporary Estonia. Theoretical considerations involve military culture and the storied world. We discuss the dominant and contesting narratives that emerged from 14 interviews concerning patriotism, self-sustainability, freedom of choice and identity as military spouses. The dominant narratives demonstrate a strong adherence to military values though overtly the women identified more with the civilian world. The contesting narratives suggest adverse implications for family well-being.
To conclude, Estonia needs a public discussion concerning families of military service members who find themselves on the cusp of two worlds, the civilian and the military. The ambiguous self-positioning of military spouses between the military and civilian worlds needs acknowledgement and further conceptualization.
Lithuanian labor migrants and the construction of the western Siberian oil-gas complex in the late USSR
Rasa Čepaitienė & Vera Kliueva
This article presents an analysis of Baltic (particularly, Lithuanian) labor migration into the interior of the USSR during the late Soviet period. The authors discuss how these Baltic labor migrants participated in the creation of infrastructure for the northern oil-gas complex in western Siberia’s Tyumen region. The data collected and subsequent research suggest that the Lithuanian road and construction industry workers, and their accompanying organizational structures, managed to establish a kind of autonomy that allowed them to maintain close links with their homelands, while also creating a role for themselves in the eyes of the local population as representatives of ‘European’ culture.
Power dynamics of the healthcare field: seeking mental care in Lithuania
Over the course of the last decades, the post-socialist societies have been enduring high levels of mental distress, while reporting relatively low treatment rates, which suggests a considerable treatment gap and delay. This article examines how the design and functioning of the mental healthcare system and, particularly, the structure of its inner power relations influences mental healthcare seeking in Lithuania. Employing the theoretical stances of Pierre Bourdieu and Norbert Elias, 23 in-depth interviews with healthcare providers and users of services, who suffer from depression or anxiety disorders, are analyzed. It is concluded that while mental healthcare appears to be relatively accessible it is not necessarily acceptable or humane.
The relationship between insurance market and macroeconomic indicators in the Baltic states
Mihaela Simionescu & Aurelija Ulbinaitė
Using mixed-effect and panel data regression models applied on data from the Baltic states, 1996–2017, this article examines how, and to what extent, insurance market indicators are related to or dependent on macroeconomic indicators. The results show that the growth of economic well-being and living standards, built on the growth of GDP per capita and households’ income, largely contributes to increasing insurance consumption in terms of insurance premiums, insurance density, and insurance penetration as key indicators from both state-level and cross-country perspectives. Meanwhile, inflation, national currency depreciation, and exchange rate increase are identified as insurance market growth impeding indicators.
How to construct cross-border cooperation? Local border traffic as a mechanism of shaping the external relations of the European Union and Schengen Area from the perspective of constructivism: the case of the Baltic Sea Region
This article examines the mechanism of local border traffic (LBT) at external borders of the European Union (EU) and Schengen Area in the Baltic Sea region (BSR) from the point of view of the paradigm of constructivism. The LBT mechanism is an example of the practical application of constructivism: the goal of LBT is to stimulate cross-border cooperation (CBC) in its various dimensions. As a result, new interests and new identities may develop in border areas. This study proved that the greatest opportunities for shaping relations between societies and states in BSR are in the Polish–Russian, Norwegian–Russian, and Lithuanian–Belarusian borderlands.
Special section “Nation-building in the Baltic states: thirty years of independence” by guest editors Peter Rutland & Raymond Taras
Introduction: nation-building in the Baltic states: thirty years of independence
The recovery of national independence by Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania is one of the signal achievements of the late twentieth century. The three Baltic states played a leading role in triggering the breakup of the Soviet Union. That in turn facilitated the collapse of communism in eastern Europe, followed by a wave of democratization which spread all around the world. This special section originated at the conference of the Association for the Study of Nationalities in New York in May 2016, at which a series of panels examined the status of nation-building in the 15 countries that emerged from the Soviet Union, 25 years after their founding.
National identity and re-identity in post-Soviet Estonia
Estonia’s national identity has been on a new journey since the restoration of independence in 1991. The dream of unimpeded nation-statehood has confronted a number of specific challenges, starting with the presence of a sizable Russian-speaking minority. Even after a certain stability was achieved in this realm, Estonia faced more soul-searching when dealing with a noticeable exodus of ethnic Estonians abroad and the prospect of having to admit a substantial number of foreigners in order to foster a more high-tech economy. A question loomed as Estonia embarked on its second centenary of de jure statehood: what would the new national project look like in a world of European integration and globalization?
Sovereignty and political belonging in post-Soviet Lithuania: ethnicity, migration, and historical justice
Neringa Klumbytė & Kristina Šliavaitė
In this article, we review the history of building a post-Soviet sovereign state in Lithuania by institutionalizing social and political difference of some groups in laws, policy, and public discourse. We argue that an exclusive inclusion of national (ethnic) minorities and migrants have played an important role in defining political belonging to a post-Soviet sovereign state. Language and citizenship laws and policies have been the major sites through which national minorities and migrants have been categorized and integrated in a post-1991 society. We conclude with the analysis of the politics of historical justice, central in defining political belonging to a post-2014 sovereign state.
Integration in Latvia: a success story?
Since Latvia restored her independence 30 years ago, numerous studies of Latvia’s inter-ethnic relations have been published, each with specific analytical and periodic frames. This article covers demographic data and naturalization issues, language and educational policies, political representation, the attitudes and perceptions of population subgroups, and last, but not least, the influence of Russia. The latter has become especially important following Russia’s exploitation of minority issues in Ukraine since 2014. More than ever, ethnopolitics in the post-Soviet region cannot be analyzed without assessing international contexts.
Book reviews and recent publications
Diffusing human trafficking policy in Eurasia, by Laura A. Dean, Bristol, Policy Press, 2020, 286 pp., $92.00/$36.00, (hbk), ISBN 978-1-4473-5283-9; (ebook), ISBN 978-1-4473-5328-7
Decolonizing queer experience: LGBT+ narratives from Eastern Europe and Eurasia, edited by Emily Channell-Justice, Lanham, Lexington Books, 2020, 220 pp., $100.00, (hbk), ISBN 978-1-79363-030-8; (ebook), 978-1-79363-031-5
Violent resistance: from the Baltics to Central, Eastern and South Eastern Europe 1944–1956, edited by Michael Gehler and David Schriffl, Paderborn, Schöningh, 2020, 457 pp., €78.00, ISBN 978-3-506-70304-0 (hbk); (ebook), ISBN 978-3-657-70304-3
List of books received and recent publications
About the journal
Journal of Baltic Studies (JBS), the official journal of AABS, is a vital source of scholarship for those engaged in Baltic state and Baltic Sea region studies. JBS is a peer-reviewed, multidisciplinary journal published on a quarterly basis that aims at progressing and disseminating knowledge about the political, social, economic, and cultural life – both past and present – of the Baltic states and the Baltic Sea region. JBS seeks high-quality original articles and review of broad scholarly interest that advance knowledge of the Baltic states and Baltic Sea region.
Published quarterly by the AABS, the annual fee for both membership in the Association and a subscription to JBS is $70.00, $35.00 for full-time students, and $35.00 for emeritus members. Members of the Association receive a free personal subscription to the Journal.
JBS welcomes article and book review submissions from AABS members and other scholars. See the Instructions for Authors page for more info.