The foundation of the Republic of Latvia in 1918 changed significantly ethnic relationships in the country. Ethnic Latvians became not only the numerical but also the political and cultural majority, and thereby the concept and status of ethnic minorities were created. This article examines the visibility of ethnic minorities in the newly established state, focusing on the case of the Archives of Latvian Folklore, founded in 1924, as one of the core institutions that strengthened national cultural values. The ‘folklore of other ethnicities’ category was introduced and discussed at the archive during the first years of its existence. Volunteer folklore collectors played an active role in the discussions, revealing the bottom-up aspects of the implementation of the archive’s policy. However, rather than pointing to the ethnic affiliation of the involved people, the archival records reflect more often the blurred linguistic boundaries in Latvian society.
Journal:Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis
Volume 38 (2019): Creating Modern Nation-States in the Eastern Baltic = Šiuolaikinių tautinių valstybių kūrimas rytiniame Baltijos jūros regione, pp. 117–128
Estonia was a post-imperial country where the question of how to develop a citizen loyal to the new nation-state arose after the First World War. Seen by some as being composed of the ‘best part of the Estonian nation’, the army was considered to be a good tool for the effective training of citizens. In order to fulfil the idea of the army as a ‘school of nation’, the crucial issues were the creation of its own military traditions, language policy, and the education of personnel. The leadership of the army tried to eliminate the influence of the former Imperial Russian army, invented new military traditions in the national spirit, and actively cultivated nationalist ideas. The article analyses the education of Estonian military personnel in this regard, discussing how nationalism, language policy, cultural training and history lessons helped to embody the vision of the army as the school of nation.
Journal:Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis
Volume 23 (2011): Daugiareikšmės tapatybės tarpuerdvėse: Rytų Prūsijos atvejis XIX–XX amžiais = Ambiguous Identities in the Interspaces: The Case of East Prussia in the 19th and 20th Centuries = Die vieldeutigen Identitäten in den Zwischenräumen: Der Fall Ostpreußen…, pp. 128–135
Between 1848 and 1871, German identity gained importance in East Prussia. The basis for the nationalization was the increased opportunities for communication in smaller cities and even villages in Prussian Lithuania provided by the newly founded associations. Additionally, the press developed into the most important medium allowing the adoption of national sentiments on a level wider than the local areas. A national movement encompassing all political camps did not appear on the German side. Only liberals and democrats supported the German national state. The conservatives remained distanced to the German nation state as they primarily identified themselves with Prussian patriotism.
The article discusses the politicization of language, ethnicity and nationality issues in a border region between Estonia and Russia. The region’s recent past as part of the Soviet Union has a strong bearing on local peoples’ attitudes towards languages and language users in the neighbouring country and among the minorities. Russian-Estonian relations on all levels continue to be affected by the language situation of the former Soviet Union: the dominant status of Russian and the threatened position of Estonian. I discuss the debate around the altered status of the Estonian-language school located in the Russian Pskov region which borders with Estonia. This border region is interesting because of a very long-term co-existence and common history of both Estonian-speaking and Russian-speaking populations. The transformation of the Estonian school in Pechory from a minority language school into a foreign language school can be understood on one hand as a straight-forward response to pressures from declining numbers of pupils that schools in peripheral rural areas are facing everywhere. On the other hand, the case of this particular school can also be seen as an example of the increasing politicization and political use of language and ethnic issues in the Russian Federation.
Using case studies from Macedonia and Lithuania, the authors develop a three level theory of the formation and dynamics of national identity. Case study material is used to show how first order levels of identity such as common language, religion, ethnicity and history are by themselves unmotivated until they are anthropomorphized as national characteristics and capacities, usually in heroic proportion. This second level order of national identity gives life to national identity but also can emphasize differences between different groups of people; a third epistemological level is often required which, if it is effective is a way of selectively emphasizing similarities and eliding differences across these disparate groups that constitute the nation. This theoretical model integrates “top down” and “bottom up” approaches to understanding the formation of national identity and case studies are used to support and illustrate the theory.