Journal of Baltic Studies 54/3 Now Available Online

Sep 5, 2023

The third 2023 issue of Journal of Baltic Studies (Vol 54, Issue 3) 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 six book reviews and a list of recently published Baltic titles.


Governing the Baltic Sea Region at critical junctures (1991–2021): How do transnational and intergovernmental organizations cope with external regional change?

Stefan Gänzle, Kristine Kern & Nina Tynkkynen

Since the end of the East-West conflict, various intergovernmental and transnational organizations have collectively governed the Baltic Sea Region. Exploring key features of the organizational architecture of three such organizations – HELCOM, the Council of the Baltic Sea States, and the Union of Baltic Cities – we ask how their institutions evolved in the aftermath of critical junctures affecting the region over the past three decades. Findings show that specific-purpose organizations are robust with respect to changes than general-purpose organizations whereas general-purpose maybe less so. With growing geopolitical tensions and global turbulence, this finding holds lessons for the design of transnational cooperation in the future – and beyond the Baltic Sea Region.

The Helsinki Convention’s agricultural nutrient governance: how domestic institutions matter

M. S. Andersen, et. al.

National policy styles and path-dependencies are affecting the abilities of Baltic Sea countries to deliver on their commitments under the Helsinki Convention. This article synthesizes evidence and insights from studies relating to the provisions on agricultural nutrient management, a main source of marine pollution. We contend that governments that are strongly concentrated vertically, while fragmented horizontally, lack capacity including with respect to informal institutions that can leverage implementation. As a stocktaking of institutional impediments to sustainable development, our analysis has wider relevance for other international agreements with Baltic Sea countries involved.

Discovering the regional innovation potential for Smart Specialization: the case of the two Baltic Sea Regions

Živile Gedminaitė-Raudonė, Seija Virkkala, Rita Lankauskien​ė, Åge Mariussen & Antti Mäenpää

The EU Commission launched an innovation strategy called Smart Specialization in 2012. Smart Specialization is a framework for developing policies unleashing place-based economic potential. Evaluations, however, have shown that appropriate innovation policy decisions are difficult. There is an innovation policy potential that must first be unleashed. This article shows how the application of a method – connectivity analysis – developed through a Baltic Sea Region project ‘LARS – Learning Among Regions on Smart Specialization, can be used to support Smart Specialization. The method includes transnational comparisons and targeted policy recommendations for public sector institutions operating within various institutional frameworks and different clusters. It consists of instruments (gaps and factors) measuring collaboration through interviews of 141 quadruple-helix stakeholders across eight Baltic Sea regions.

Europeanization by foreign banks: Latvia from 1995 to 2004

Kārlis Bukovskis

This article investigates the role of the Swedish, Finnish, and German banks during Latvia’s accession into the European Union from 1995 until 2004. It claims that private foreign banks with EU origins used their conditionality and socialization capacities to Europeanize Latvia. In the capital-scarce Latvian economy banks were able to project conditionality and influence the implementation of structural reforms in the legal and political system. Private foreign banks were important also due to their capacity to outcompete the domestic economic actors; they established meaningful social interaction with decision-makers in Latvia, and actively used persuasion and socialization strategies on Latvian institutions.

Transnationalism in the digital age: Estonians connected to their country of origin via ICT

Keiu Telve, Kirsti Vill & Siiri Silm

People who are simultaneously embedded into multiple countries are referred to as transnationals. We have investigated the influence of information and communications technology (ICT) on the transnational communities of Estonia, one of the world’s frontline countries when it comes to technological usage. We conducted interviews with Estonians who permanently live abroad to discover how ICT helps them stay connected with their country of origin. Transnational Estonians ensure the continuance of their connections via ICT. Thus, they directly participate in their home countries via ‘ways of being active,’ which strengthens their transnational identities.

The short-term impact of a character growth intervention during a week-long summer camp among 10–15-year-old Baltic Sea region boys

Manuel Joaquín Fernández González & S. Surikova

This study assessed the short-term impact of a one-week intervention for 10–15-year-old boys from the Baltic Sea region. The intervention addressed the cognitive dimension of character growth using ‘taught’ and ‘caught’ elements. The mixed-methods study used a quasi-experimental quantitative approach (pretest and posttest questionnaires) and qualitative methods (open questions, interviews). The results support the short-term benefits of the intervention on adolescents’ character growth mind-set and practical knowledge and points to the importance of near-peers’ modeling, personal coaching conversations, and self-reflection for virtue growth. The study may be relevant for providers of extra-school activities promoting youngsters’ character growth. Further research directions are suggested.

Discrimination or explained differences? Individual and school-level effects explaining the minority achievement gap

Triin Lauri, Kaire Põder & Nikolai Kunitsõn

This study is motivated by the distinctive outcome of the minority achievement gap in Estonia and Latvia, countries with similar legacies and socio-economic development. We have four sub-groups of schools involving pairs of instructing languages: Estonian and Russian in Estonia, and Latvian and Russian in Latvia. All four are above average performers according to international comparisons. Still, our data show that a remarkable achievement gap between majority and minority students exists only in Estonia. We employ the Oaxaca–Blinder twofold decomposition technique to explore the factors behind the minority achievement gap (MAG). We are able to explain almost half of the gap in Estonia by peer effects and the larger concentration of immigrants in minority schools. In Latvia, on the contrary, the average peer effect is positive in minority schools. Still, regarding the essence of the unexplained gap, our results remain inconclusive.

Paradoxes of minority representation: a comparison of Russophone political attitudes in Estonia and Latvia

Peter Chereson & Kyle W. Estes

While Estonia’s Russophones have had comparatively little presence in national-level institutions yet have been subject to accommodative policies, Latvia’s Russophones have enjoyed consistent descriptive representation in parliament but have gained relatively less on policy outcomes. Given that existing theory suggests that descriptive and substantive representation should be associated with both heightened political efficacy and regime approval, this presents a useful comparative puzzle. Our analysis of Eurobarometer public opinion data suggests that, while Russian-speakers evince less political efficacy and democratic satisfaction than others in both countries, Latvia’s Russophones are less satisfied with their political regime than are their Estonian coethnics.

Refugees and diaspora nationalism: national activists in Estonian settlements in Siberia and non-territorial autonomy between 1917 and 1920

Timo Aava

This article analyzes debates over the national question and non-territorial autonomy in Estonian settlement communities in Siberia from 1917 to 1920. The article demonstrates that similarly to many Siberian communities, Estonian refugees and political activists incorporated demands for non-territorial autonomy into their political agendas and established proto-institutions of non-territorial autonomy. Amid political instability during the Civil War, however, the national mobilization of the broader masses in politically relatively inactive agrarian settlements was not particularly successful. Public debates over non-territorial autonomy ended in January 1920 when Siberian political life was confined to the framework of the Russian Communist (Bolshevik) Party.

Between national and local memories: the case of Vilnius (Vilnija) region in Lithuania

Simonas Teškevičius

The main objective of the article is to analyze the interactions between national and local memory cultures through a case study of multicultural Vilnius region (Vilnija) in Lithuania. It suggests that, on a national level, some memory policies implemented by the Lithuanian state can be seen as hegemonizing. Ethnic and ethno-regional categories constitute the content of these policies. They are reinforced by historical stereotypes about the region and its inhabitants, the majority of whom are Lithuanian Poles. During this process, local memories are being ignored, thus turned into counter-memories that emphasize the multi-layered identification formulas of the local inhabitants. Using an interdisciplinary approach, this article analyzes the place of the region in the Lithuanian historical metanarrative that developed over the last century.

Longing for a place that does not exist: the importance of kitsch for the Estonian Singing Revolution

Max Rynanen & Eret Talviste

This article proposes that popular forms of art and affect-driven culture initiate historical, cultural, and social change. The Estonian Singing Revolution between 1987 and 1991 offers an example of cliché-driven sentimentalism that contributes to political change. Although the concept of kitsch tends to have a negative connotation, in this article, we reconsider it as a politically productive concept, by contemplating its affective powers in creating a sense of nationhood. We do so by providing an example of how some musical aspects of the Singing Revolution became important elements of affective nation-building to gain independence from the Soviet Union.

Unlearning Inherited Histories or Introducing Entangled Memories from the Baltics

Ulrike Gerhardt

This exhibition review discusses the past exhibition Difficult Pasts. Connected Worlds (2022) at the National Gallery of Art, Vilnius, Lithuania. The project tried to shed light on the shared impact that long-silenced traumas and counter-memories have on the Baltic region, especially from a transnational perspective. A special focus lies on the oscillations between individual memory and public history as the exhibition participants engage in the creation of so-called ‘artistic historiographies’ based on unexplored and unknown memories by minorities and women. The displayed artworks are experimentally trying to provoke a process of ‘unlearning inherited histories’ by developing multifocal viewpoints and interpretations, an ongoing process the text accompanies. Navigating through the exhibitions’ conceptual threads, artistic manifestations, and ways of storytelling, the review introduces a generation of artists that is bonded to difficult and therefore challenging historical events from the 20th century, from the Holodomor in Soviet Ukraine to the Dąbroszczacy soldiers and autofictional lesbian literature.

Book reviews

Baltic Crusades and societal innovation in medieval Livonia, 1200–1350
edited by Anti Selart, Leiden, Boston, Brill, 2022, 404 pp., €146.00, ISBN 978-90-04-42832-4 (hbk), 978-90-04-51209-2 (ebook)

Eva Eihmane

“A very valuable contribution to our understanding of the processes transpiring in the present-day Latvia and Estonia in the post-crusades period.”

An illustrated history of Lithuania, Vol. 1: from the prehistoric balts to the grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth
by Ignas Kapleris, Vilnius, Briedis, 2022, 288 pp., €56.00 (hardback), ISBN 978-9955-26-922-9

James Montgomery Baxenfield

“A thoroughly enjoyable excursion into the early history of Lithuania.”


The Nazi’s granddaughter: how I discovered my grandfather was a war criminal
by Silvia Foti, Washington, DC, Regnery History, 2021, 376 pp., $26.99 (hardback), ISBN 978-1-68451-108-2

Virgil I. Krapauskas

“Foti has exposed her ‘heroic’ grandfather as a žydšaudis, responsible for the deaths of 10 –15,000 Litvak deaths. Her book is one part of the larger story revealing the culpability of Lithuanians in the extermination of 220,000 Jews during the Holocaust.

Site, symbol and cultural landscape
edited by Almantas Samalavičius, Newcastle upon Tyne, Cambridge Scholars, 2022, 158 pp., £59.00 (hbk), £30.00 (pbk), ISBN 978-1-5275-7588-2 (hbk), ISBN 978-1-5275-9634-4 (pbk)

Milda B. Richardson

“The authors… provide a new lens to view the symbolic and spiritual dimensions of urban environments.

Latvijas labā: politiskā darbība trimdā 20. gadsimta 40.–80. gados
by Kristīne Beķere, Riga, LU Akadēmiskais apgāds, 2022, 304 pp., €26.00(hardback), ISBN 978-9934-18-870-1

Māris Graudiņš

“Beķere has enhanced the historiography of Latvian exile politics, paving the way for more nuanced research in complementary areas.

Defining Latvia: recent explorations in history, culture, and politics
edited by Michael Loader, Siobhán Hearne, and Matthew Kott, Budapest, Central European University Press, 2022, 270 pp., $85.00(paperback), ISBN 978-963-386-445-6

Jörg Hackmann

“One of the editors’ major intentions is to promote Latvian studies apart from ‘pan-Baltic’ studies, as Siobhán Hearne explains in her introduction.

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.