Baltic Ways Podcast

Baltic Ways is a podcast bringing listeners insights and interviews from the world of Baltic Studies, hosted by Dr. Indra Ekmanis, Editor of FPRI’s Baltic Bulletin. In interviews with experts, the podcast explores the past, present and future of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania — and the many ways these three countries on the Baltic Sea impact the politics, history, and culture of the region and beyond.

Baltic Ways is brought to you by the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies, produced in partnership with the Baltic Initiative at the Foreign Policy Research Institute.

Episodes

A woman stands in front of a tree

Margaret Comer

©Margaret Comer, 2023

Baltic Ways, Ep. 18: Dark Heritage: Exploring Memory Building in Estonia with Dr. Margaret Comer

How do we remember tragedies? How do populations construct memories and memory institutions around these events? How can contemporary researchers begin to make sense of these complex landscapes? Dr. Margaret Comer of University College London joins us to discuss heritage studies, dark heritage, and her fieldwork in Russia and Estonia.

A man stands in front of a river with a fort on the other side

James Montgomery Baxenfield. ©James Montgomery Baxenfield, 2023.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 17: Latvian-Lithuanian Connections from Morta to Modernity: An interview with James Montgomery Baxenfield

How have Latvian and Lithuanian histories intertwined over the last millennium? Who was Queen Morta, a Latvian princess by birth who became the wife of Lithuania’s first and only king, Mindaugas? How close did we come to a Latvian-Lithuanian state in the early 20th century? How do Latvians and Lithuanians see their shared commonalities today? James Montgomery Baxenfield, Junior Research Fellow at Tallinn University School of Humanities, walks (literally) through this complex history.

Una Bergmane

Liisi Veski. ©Liisi Veski, 2022.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 16: The School of Democracy in Interwar Estonia: An interview with Dr. Liisi Veski

How did Estonian democracy erode in the 1930s? How did liberal dissidents express their discontent under a more oppressive regime? Why is political rhetoric important, both now and then? Dr. Liisi Veski, fellow at the Skytte Institute, University of Tartu, dives into this complex, informative world of letters.

Una Bergmane

Tomass Pildegovičs. ©Tomass Pildegovičs, 2023.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 15: The Baltic States as NATO Heavyweights: An interview with Tomass Pildegovičs

How have the Baltic States adopted new leadership roles in NATO? Why have they been so forward leaning, even in an alliance with many friends of Ukraine? Why are other countries listening to the Baltic States now? Will this leadership continue? Tomass Pildegovičs, PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, dives into the dynamics of small state positioning within multilateral organizations.

Una Bergmane

Una Bergmane. ©Una Bergmane, 2023.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 14: Unparalleled Uncertainty? Soviet Collapse and Modern Reverberations: An interview with Dr. Una Bergmane

How did the dissolution of the Soviet Union really unfold? How has the agency of the Baltic states been undervalued in studying this period, and how have those misperceptions persisted in the intervening decades. Dr. Una Bergmane unpacks the complex geopolitical history and draws carefully considered comparisons between the past and present.

More information about The Politics of Uncertainty: The United States, the Baltic Question, and the Collapse of the Soviet Union

Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova. ©Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova, 2022.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 13: China’s Ambitions and the Baltic Response: An interview with Dr. Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova
Do Russia and China really have a “friendship without limits?” How are the Baltic states positioning themselves in the shifting sands of global security? What sort of role could they have as multilateral coalitions seek to address China as both a strategic competitor and critical trade partner? Dr. Una Aleksandra Bērziņa-Čerenkova, head of the China Studies Centre at Riga Stradiņš University, provides expert insight into this rapidly changing set of relationships and how they might develop.

Agnia Grigas. ©Agnia Grigas, 2023.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 12: The Future of European Energy: An interview with Dr. Agnia Grigas
How has Russia’s invasion of Ukraine affected Europe’s energy mix? How are European states balancing the move towards a green future with their present needs? How are the Baltic states positioning themselves in these European debates? Dr. Agnia Grigas, Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, gives us the historical context and future factors that will affect European energy security for decades to come.

Marek Tamm. ©Marek Tamm, 2023.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 11: From Medieval Livonia to Multiplanetary History: An Interview with Dr. Marek Tamm
How has cultural memory shaped Estonia as a nation? What does it mean to gamify medieval Livonia? And should historians rethink their concept of historical time? Dr. Marek Tamm, professor of cultural history and head of the Centre of Excellence in Intercultural Studies at Tallinn University, speaks about redefining the notion of time and what it means for how we understand the writing of history.

Mārtiņš Kaprāns. ©Mārtiņš Kaprāns, 2022.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 10: What’s Happening With Russian Speakers in Latvia? An Interview with Dr. Martiņš Kaprāns
How have things changed politically and socially for Russian speakers in Latvia since the war in Ukraine — and over the last few decades? Dr. Martiņš Kaprāns, senior researcher at University of Latvia’s Institute of Philosophy and Sociology and recent recipient of the AABS Saltups Fellowship, shares his perspectives on current events and changes in Russian-speaker identity formation.

Harry Merritt. ©Harry Merritt, 2022.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 9: Latvian Units in World War II: An interview with Dr. Harry Merritt

What happens when families and nations fight on both sides of a great power war? Dr. Harry Merritt is a visiting assistant professor in the department of history at Brown University. He shares his research on national and familial feelings among Latvian soldiers in World War II, who were conscripted into the Latvian Legion and Latvian Rifle Corp as the country was occupied by both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. Soldiers in both units spoke Latvian with one another, celebrated national holidays, sang traditional songs, and often thought of themselves and their comrades-in-arms as serving the Latvian national cause. Dr. Merritt explores the human stories underpinning this history and what it means for greater narratives in his chapter for the recently published Defining Latvia.

This interview was recorded in March 2022. 

Read more: 

Loader, M., Hearne, S., & Kott, M. (2022). Defining Latvia : Recent explorations in history, culture, and politics. Central European University Press.Merritt, Harry C. (September 2022). “Latvia & World War II.” The New York Review of Books.

Volodymyr Dubovyk. ©Volodymyr Dubovyk, 2022.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 8: The View from Ukraine: An interview with Dr. Volodymyr Dubovyk

Dr. Volodymyr Dubovyk is a professor of international relations at Odessa I. Mechnikov National University and an expert in U.S.-Ukraine relations, Black Sea regional security, and Ukrainian foreign policy. He speaks about the view from Ukraine, how his work has shifted during the war, and takeaways for Ukraine from the Baltic states.

Andrei Belyi. ©Liis Treimann, Ärileht, Shutterstock, 2022.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 7: The Energy Trilemma: An interview with Dr. Andrei Belyi

As Russia’s war in Ukraine continues, Europe faces an energy trilemma: Combining competitiveness, security and climate targets. Dr. Andrei Belyi joins the podcast as an expert consultant on European and Russian energy policy.

Read more:

Al-Chalabi, F. (2010). Oil policies, oil myths : Analysis and memoir of an OPEC ‘insider’. London: I.B. Tauris.
Belyi, A. (2015). Transnational Gas Markets and Euro-Russian Energy Relations (International political economy series). London: Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Agnese Lace. © Agnese Lace, 2022.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 6: Ukrainian Refugees in Latvia: An interview with Agnese Lāce

Since the war in Ukraine began, more than 20,000 Ukrainian refugees have made their way to Latvia. Agnese Lāce is an expert in migration and integration policy in Latvia. She shares insights about the grassroots efforts on the ground, the political response, and what the support for Ukrainians might mean for refugees and asylum seekers from other countries arriving in Latvia.

This interview was recorded on April 11, 2022.

Resources mentioned:

www.ukraine-latvia.com 

https://www.unhcr.org/en-us/ 

Maria Mälksoo. © Maria Mälksoo, 2022.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 5: Who Speaks For Eastern Europe? An interview with Dr. Maria Mälksoo

Join Baltic Ways for a discussion with Dr. Maria Mälksoo, senior researcher at the University of Copenhagen’s Centre for Military Studies. Dr. Mälksoo speaks about the ever-pressing question of agency in Ukraine and the Baltic states, deterrence on NATO’s eastern flank, and Eastern and Central European scholarship in international security studies.

This episode was recorded on February 16, 2022. 

Read more:

Uses of ‘the East’ in international studies: provincialising IR from Central and Eastern Europe, Journal of International Relations and Development

Captive Minds: The Function and Agency of Eastern Europe in International Security Studies, Journal of International Relations and Development

Saulius Sužiedelis. © Saulius Sužiedelis, 2022.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 4: Historical perspectives: An interview with Dr. Saulius Sužiedelis

Join Baltic Ways for a discussion with Dr. Saulius Sužiedelis, professor emeritus of history at Millersville University of Pennsylvania and a leading expert on the history of World War II and the Holocaust in Lithuania. Dr. Sužiedelis speaks about his work as a researcher, the complexities of historical narratives, and the future of Baltic studies.

This discussion was recorded in February 2021.

Dace Dzenovska. © Dace Dzenovska, 2022.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 3: The Paradox of Europeanness: An interview with Dr. Dace Dzenovska


Join Baltic Ways for a discussion with Dr. Dace Dzenovska, Associate Professor of the Anthropology of Migration at the University of Oxford. Dr. Dzenovska speaks about the changing relationships between people, places, and the state in post-Soviet and modern day Latvia, including discussing the impacts of EU tolerance promotion projects and the effects of mobility and migration.

This discussion was recorded in February 2021.

Read more: School of Europeanness: Tolerance and Other Lessons in Political Liberalism in Latvia (Cornell University Press, 2018).

Edgars Rinkēvičs. © Edgars Rinkēvičs, 2021.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 2: 10 years in foreign policy and an eye to new challenges: An interview with Latvian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edgars Rinkēvičs

Join Baltic Ways for a discussion with Edgars Rinkēvičs, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Latvia. In this special edition episode, we speak about the global shifts in foreign policy priorities over the last decade, current human rights and legislative challenges on Europe’s borders with Belarus, competing transatlantic perspectives of Russia and China, and the areas in which Latvia is positioned to lead.

Andres Kasekamp. © Andres Kasekamp, 2021.

Baltic Ways, Ep. 1: Reframing the Baltic states: An interview with Dr. Andres Kasekamp

Join Baltic Ways for a discussion with Dr. Andres Kasekamp, professor in the Department of History and chair of Estonian Studies at University of Toronto. In this episode, we speak about the geopolitics of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and their relevance as a region today.

The Hosts

Host

Indra Ekmanis, AABS

Dr. Indra Ekmanis (PhD, University of Washington) is host of the Baltic Ways Podcast. She is a Baltic Sea Fellow and Editor of the Baltic Bulletin at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and the Newsletter Editor for the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies.
Dr. Ekmanis earned her PhD in International Studies from the University of Washington in 2017. Her research focuses on social integration, minority rights, nationalism, civil society and democratic transition in Latvia and the broader Baltic region.
She was previously a Kennan Institute Title VIII Research Scholar at The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and a Fulbright research award recipient. She also covered international news and analysis as an editor for public radio’s The World through the ACLS/Mellon Public Fellows Program.

Guest Host

Ben Gardner-Gill, AABS

Ben Gardner-Gill serves as a guest host of the Baltic Ways Podcast. He is also Assistant Director of Outreach and Engagement and oversees AABS’ donor relations and fundraising efforts, maintains AABS’ presence on social media, advertises AABS’ grants and awards, assists the AABS Administrative Executive Director in maintaining and updating AABS’ website and publishing annual print newsletters and quarterly e-newsletters, and develops and proposes new strategies and initiatives for fostering outreach and community engagement.

Ben Gardner-Gill earned his BA in History from Stanford University, with a concentration in Modern Europe and a focus on historical memory. He studied abroad through Stanford’s center in Berlin, and conducted field research in Central Europe. He has completed internships in Estonia, Belgium, and Germany, and worked on political campaigns in the US before joining AABS.

About the Podcast

Baltic Ways is brought to you by the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies, produced in partnership with the Baltic Initiative at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of AABS or FPRI.

The title of the podcast is a reference to the Baltic Way demonstration of 1989, where 2 million Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians joined hands in a 690-kilometer human chain in protest of Soviet occupation. The logo draws inspiration from the Spīdola radios produced at VEF in Riga, Latvia in the 1970s.
The AABS promotes research and education in Baltic Studies by sponsoring meetings and conferences, supporting publications, sustaining a program of scholarships, grants, and prizes, and disseminating news of current interest in Baltic Studies. Founded on December 1, 1968, at the first conference on Baltic Studies at the University of Maryland, the AABS is an international educational and scholarly non-profit organization. The primary function of the association is to provide an open forum where scholars can present their views on all facets of inquiry connected to Baltic Studies.
The Foreign Policy Research Institute is dedicated to producing the highest quality scholarship and nonpartisan policy analysis focused on crucial foreign policy and national security challenges facing the United States. We educate those who make and influence policy, as well as the public at large, through the lens of history, geography, and culture. The Baltic Initiative in FPRI’s Eurasia Program analyzes the geopolitics, geo-economics, defense and security issues of the Baltic Sea region, and their role in European security as well as their implications to the United States.

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Harry Merritt Emerging Scholars Grant Report: Archival Research in Latvia

AABS is pleased to congratulate Harry Merritt for the completion of the Emerging Scholars Grant (awarded 2023) associated with his project researching Latvian military formations and soldiers in the Second World War.©Harry Merritt, 2024 Harry C. Merritt is a...