The second 2023 issue of Journal of Baltic Studies (Vol 54, Issue 2) is now available online. The issue features twelve articles spanning a variety of disciplines, subjects, and eras, together weaving a rich tapestry of Baltic Studies today. The journal issue concludes with four book reviews and a list of recently published Baltic titles.
For friends and citizens only? Banal notions of nationhood in official and semi-public discourses on foreign national flags in post-1990 Lithuania
This article explores tacit, habitual notions of nationhood within political and popular discourses that underlie the ways that ethnic minorities in Lithuania perceive themselves. This is achieved by examining official and semi-public discourses surrounding the use and status of foreign national flags in Lithuania. The main findings of the article are twofold. First, doxastic perceptions of national identity that emerged in the official discourses during the 1990s rather than those since the beginning of 2000s appeared to be present within semi-public discourses in 2015. Second, official discourses appear either less aware of, or avoid, issues of ethnic tension in Lithuania – questions that, on the contrary, were very important to focus group discussants.
Presidents between national unity and ethnic divisions: public trust across the Baltic states
Kjetil Duvold & Thomas Sedelius
The Baltic presidents have in common that they are supposed to embody the ‘nation’ and provide an image of their countries abroad. But can the president embody the people if ‘the people’ itself is divided? In this article, we will focus on public trust in the presidency between the majority and minority population in the Baltic states. Drawing on public opinion surveys, the aim is to examine the determinants of public trust in the presidential institution and support for the performance and principles of the political system as well identification with the political community itself. Among our findings, we conclude that ethnic or linguistic identity explains trust to a considerable degree, which suggests that trust is not only an expression of specific political support, but also part of a more deep-seated, diffuse support.
From post-socialist transition to the COVID-19 crisis: cycles, drivers, and perspectives of subordinate financialization in Latvia
In recent years, there has been a growing interest in the specific features of financialization in peripheral and semi-peripheral contexts. To date, the majority of this research, however, consists of broad studies covering a number of countries, leaving a gap in the analysis of case studies, especially from east-central Europe. Therefore, the present article attempts to address this gap through an in-depth analysis of Latvia. The research shows that subordinate financialization is a changing and heterogeneous phenomenon that goes through uneven cycles of advance and retreat, which can lead to divergent dynamics between and within economies.
Being Soviet and Lithuanian: song festivals as emotional events to induce a hybrid identity
The article analyzes a highly popular phenomenon of the Soviet Lithuanian national culture: the song and dance festivals, regularly organized since 1946. The phenomenon was prevalent in the mass culture until the end of the Soviet era. Following occupation by the USSR in 1940, in order to build a bridge between Soviet and national identity, the Soviet Lithuanian administration promoted song festivals as emotional events to generate a hybrid synthesis of the Soviet ideas and the national elements. Based on both the national tradition and Soviet cultural policies, these events helped blend the national and the Soviet experiences.
Fascist soft power propaganda in the Baltic states during the interwar period: the case of Latvia
This article, the result of intense archive work, retraces the influence of Italian cultural propaganda in Latvia starting from the de jure recognition in 1921 until the first Soviet occupation in 1940. The cultural relations between Italy and Latvia, could be depicted in two different waves: the first one, from 1921 until 1932, where Italy tries to establish the foundations of its cultural influence, not without a few difficulties, and the second one, from 1933 until 1940, when Fascist propaganda increased in Latvia; undoubtedly, this growth of cultural relations corresponded to Ulmanis’s takeover. Moreover, a more detailed propaganda strategy abroad was outlined, starting from 1932, with the Volta Conference and with the establishment of CAUR (Comitati d’Azione per l’Universalità di Roma/Action Committees for the Universality of Rome) and of the Ministry of Popular Culture in 1937.
The Estonian antebellum paradox: a venture into the comparative anthropometric history of the Baltic countries in the early twentieth century
Zenonas Norkus, V. Morkevičius, A. Ambrulevičiūtė & J. Markevičiūtė
In this study, we examine the mismatch between the anthropometric and the economic measures of human wellbeing, a fact that has gone unnoticed in the international research on anthropometric history: by 1914, Estonian males were among the tallest in the world despite the country’s economic underdevelopment. We explain the anthropometric overperformance of Estonia considering the early start of the first demographic transition in relation to the special features of the agrarian reforms in the Baltic provinces. Estonian boys did grow taller than their peers in Lithuania, Finland, and even in the much richer Western countries, because their parents had smaller families.
The architecture of Novgorod and its interaction with the architecture of the Baltic region in the thirteenth to fifteenth centuries
A study of the history of contacts between Novgorodian architecture and northern Europe in the late thirteenth to fifteenth centuries demonstrates that links in this sphere could hardly be described as constant. We can identify several impulses from outside, stages when western European architecture most strongly affected its early Russian counterpart (the 1290s–1310s and 1430s). This study shows that constructional and decorative elements imported from the architecture of northern Europe overlaid the local architectural tradition in Novgorodian buildings. Within a few decades, some of the new forms became customary, ‘naturalized,’ while others failed to gain the Novgorodians’ acceptance.
How Estonian village structures have evolved: a study into the morphological form of the villages of Paduvere and Vaimastvere from the 1700s to the present day
Minea Kaplinski-Sauk, Nele Nutt & Zenia Kotval
The following article focuses on the morphological development of Estonian village structures during the last several hundred years using a comparative qualitative map analysis based on historical maps and plans. The results show that the different stages in the genesis of Estonian village structures can be described by distinct characteristics that are still distinguishable in modern landscapes. Understanding how these forms have changed throughout history has the potential to guide future spatial planning decisions in the Estonian countryside.
Threats and opportunities to Baltic socialist architecture in rural decline: the case of collective farm centers
The administrative-cultural centers of collective farms, which are some of the best examples of the rural architecture of late socialism in the former Baltic Soviet republics, are still there in the Baltic countryside, but their preservation is currently in doubt. This study shows that the greatest threat to this rural built heritage in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania is the shrinking and peripheralization of rural areas and small towns. Greater emphasis should be placed on strengthening the community, finding a new function, and on national protection in order to preserve collective farm centers and enhance their value.
Postmemory as historical reckoning: coming to terms with a grandfather’s complicity in the Holocaust in Lithuania – Rita Gabis, A Guest at the Shooters’ Banquet, and Julija Šukys, Siberian Exile: Blood, War, and a Granddaughter’s Reckoning
This article examines how the invisible emotional and psychological shadow of an ancestor’s complicity in war crimes is passed on to descendants and expressed as postmemory writing in two rite of return memoirs: A Guest at the Shooters’ Banquet by Rita Gabis and Siberian Exile by Julija Šukys. Both writers transform informal family knowledge about a grandfather’s complicity in Nazi war crimes during the Nazi occupation of Lithuania, archival research, and travel into a long-term process of working through the inter-generational transfer of trauma. Writing serves as a memory space for their own unhealed historical and familial trauma.
‘It is so bad to be Estonian:’ parody music videos and remediated sites of national cultural memory on Estonian public broadcasting
This article examines two Estonian parody music videos that were broadcast in an annual sketch program Tujurikkuja (Mood Spoiler) on Estonian Public Broadcasting. The videos target narratives of exceptionalism and racism in contemporary Estonia. I discuss the role that public broadcasting has in the formation of national cultural memory and argue that the mode of parody music videos has a complex potential to make visible the multi-imaged and multi-voiced discourses present in otherwise homogenous remediations of national cultural memory. Furthermore, the parody, satire, and carnival of the videos is extended as they are made available on YouTube.
Kaliningrad as an isolated zone: the impact of the war in Ukraine on the daily life of the residents of the Kaliningrad region. An introduction to the discussion
Dominika Studzińska and Julia Dunaj
The Russian authorities’ decision to go to war in Ukraine made Kaliningraders trapped inside the EU and forced them to re-organise their daily activities. Successive restrictions and limitations cut off Kaliningraders from the luxury of living a European life. The semi-exclave’s residents are forced to face the new reality which responds to the role played by the Kaliningrad region regarding Russia, the EU and NATO. Once again, Kaliningraders are experiencing the primacy of the exclave’s military character prevailing over the issues important to local communities. The primary objective of this article is to identify the socio-economic impact of the war in Ukraine. The present article is based on the results of qualitative research conducted with residents of the Kaliningrad Oblast.
Geographies of nationhood: cartography, science, and society in the Russian imperial Baltic
by Catherine Gibson, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2022, 288 pp., $100.00, ISBN 978-0-19-284432-3
“The book should… become an important read for many scholars and students of Baltic and east European studies.”
by Egidijus Aleksandravičius, Vilnius, Tyto alba, 2021, 476 pp., €23.00, ISBN 978-609-466-607-0
“The book will be interesting not only for professionals, but for all those who want to get to know the man of impressive fate and amazing activity.”
Come to this court and cry: how the Holocaust ends
by Linda Kinstler, New York, Public Affairs, 2022, 320 pp., $30.00 (hbk)/$18.00 (ebook), ISBN 978-1-5417-0259-2 (hbk), 978-1-5417-0261-5 (ebook)
Harry C. Merritt
“Kinstler’s book will serve to spur… developments onwards, especially since it retains the humility to raise provocative questions rather than provide comprehensive answers.”
Illegal annexation and state continuity: the case of the incorporation of the Baltic states by the USSR
by Lauri Mälksoo, Leiden, Brill, 2022, 307 pp., $195.00 (hbk)/$0.00 (ebook), ISBN 978-90-04-46488-9 (hbk), 978-90-04-46489-6 (ebook)
“Makes an important contribution to the theory of international law as a site of the constant back-and-forth between the letter of the law and social reality.”
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.