The Fifth Baltic Heritage Network Seminar for Young Diaspora Researchers Took Place in Riga on the 7th – 8th of October 2010

November 4, 2010

A seminar for young diaspora researchers was held at the Latvian State Archives on the 7th– 8th of October 2010. The seminar brought together participants from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

During the first day of the conference, presentations were made and current topics within diaspora research were discussed: Sander Jürisson, master’s student at Tallinn University, spoke on the early days of Estonian societies in Brazil; the audience got to hear interesting bits and pieces from this summer’s research trip to Brazil, which was supported by the Compatriots Programme. Tõnis Märtson’s presentation dwelt on the theme of his master’s thesis from the University of Tartu, which covered the Australian recognition of the annexation of the Baltic countries. Maarja Merivoo-Parro, PhD student at Tallinn University, spoke on the global singing revolution and its important influence in the re-establishment of Estonian independence. Jane Kalajärv, master’s student at the Estonian Academy of Arts, gave seminar participants a glimpse into the methodology and means of information-gathering used in her field work among the Estonian communities in Canada this summer past.

Guntis Švītiņš and his colleague Inese Kalniņa from the State Archives of Latvia gave an overview of the Latvian State Archives’ work with archival material relating to refugees in terms of collecting, preserving, arranging and digitising, and the everyday work and problems facing archival staff. Archival specialist Linas Saldukas from the Lithuanian Emigration Institute gave a presentation on the future of diaspora research in Lithuanian archives. Marianna Auliciema gave an overview of the activities of the Latvian museum Latvieši Pasaulē (Latvians Abroad) in the years 2008 -2010. The museum and research centre was created by both homeland and émigré Latvians, and displays the history of Latvian emigration and life in the diaspora. Piret Noorhani from the Estonian Studies Centre in Toronto spoke on the plans for the Museum on Estonia Abroad, VEMU.

During the second day of the seminar, the young researchers were welcomed to the Museum of the Occupation of Latvia, where professor emeritus Valters Nollendorfs and Lelde Neimane from the museum staff introduced them to Latvian history by taking them around the exhibition. A discussion took place regarding the similarities and differences in the occupations of the Baltic countries, objective research possibilities, and the means by which interesting materials could be presented to the man on the street.

In the afternoon of the second day, researchers got to acquaint themselves with the archival holdings, and talked about how systematising, preserving and making archival material accessible could be made easier in the future. They also exchanged experiences on practical archival work.

The seminar ended on a thought of increased co-operation between the three countries within the field of diaspora research, particularly regarding the involvement of young researchers.

Jane Kalajärv