The Annual Event for Diaspora Researchers at the National Library of Lithuania

May 22, 2023

On May 12, the Lithuanian Studies Unit of the National Library of Lithuania organised the 8th annual seminar for scholars and researchers in diaspora studies. Some of the participants were returnees, while others were first-time participants.

At the beginning of the seminar, Dr Dalia Cidzikaitė recalled that the idea of organising interdisciplinary seminars for Lithuanian diaspora researchers, where participants would share their thoughts on ongoing research and help each other to find the sources they need, came about when a decade or so ago the National Library of Lithuania hosted an international seminar of the Baltic Heritage Network. Dr Jolanta Budriūnienė, Director of the Documentary Heritage Research Department of the National Library of Lithuania, stressed that the common denominator of such seminars is the Lithuanian diaspora, and that these events provide an opportunity to learn the news about the ongoing research across the field.

The first part of the seminar was dominated by topics related to arts and culture. Musicologist Dr Aušra Strazdaitė-Ziberkienė discussed the issues of researching the exhibits of Mikas Petrauskas, a composer who also lived in the USA and the author of the first Lithuanian opera Birutė, which are kept in the M. and K. Petrauskas unit of Kaunas City Museum. Musicologist Dr Darius Kučinskas shared his experiences from his trips to the USA and talked about the specifics of working in Lithuanian archives there. Literary scholar Dr Akvilė Šimėnienė, who keeps returning to the seminar, examined the intellectual friendship between diplomat, and translator Povilas Gaučys and Spanish literary scholar Birutė Ciplijauskaitė, both American-Lithuanian emigrants. She also shared her thoughts about working in archives in the USA. Dr Giedrė Milerytė-Japertienė, a historian of the National Museum of Lithuania, gave a lively account of the major exhibition on the history of migration that is being prepared, focusing on her recent expedition to South America.

After a break, historian Dr Viktor Bilotas discussed the latest research on Lithuanians in Siberia. Writer and researcher Sandra Bernotaitė shared her vision for disseminating Lithuanian literature in the diaspora and translations into foreign languages. Political scientist Ieva Padolskytė, the youngest participant of the seminar, discussed the return migration of the second generation of South American Lithuanians to Soviet Lithuania and the problem of national identification in their life stories. Historian Dr Ina Ėmužienė gave a brief presentation on Soviet Lithuania’s public communication to the Lithuanian diaspora in North America. Juozapas Blažiūnas, the head of the Lithuanian Archives of Literature and Art, presented the material received from abroad by the Archives in 2022 and the work planned for 2023. At the very end of the seminar, Cidzikaitė told a somewhat detective story about Magdelana Raškevičiūtė-Eggleston, a Canadian-Lithuanian writer, and her first literary work, an autobiographical novel Mountain Shadows, published in 1955.

The presentation of the book about theatre and cinema director and actor Juozas Vaičkus, who left an imprint on Lithuanian as well as American theatre and cinema stage, written by Aušra Martišiūtė-Linartienė (Vilnius: Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore, 2022) concluded the seminar.