Young and Older Baltic Diaspora Researchers Meet in Riga

December 4, 2012

The Baltic Heritage Network’s seminar for young Baltic diaspora researchers took place at the beginning of October. This year, participants met for the second time in Riga, from October 5-6th at the Latvian Academy of Sciences.

These seminars always have a very relaxed format and they welcome both academic and independent researchers to share their findings and find common interests. This seminar series brings together researchers from many different backgrounds: history, art, anthropology, folklore, sociology, and so on. These seminars also bring together researchers from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and they show that these neighbouring countries have many historical similarities, but often, when comparing research, interesting differences do emerge. These interdisciplinary seminars bring together researchers with a common interest for Baltic diaspora research, and it is very important to encourage young researchers to continue this research.

Friday began with welcoming words from the Baltic Heritage Network’s president Piret Noorhani, who was glad to see both young and more experienced researchers from all three Baltic countries, as well as from the Baltic diaspora, participating the seminar. Latvian Academy of Sciences representative Eduards Bruno Deksnis mentioned in his greetings the hope that young researchers will find, among other more popular diaspora topics, those that have not been widely researched as of yet.

Guntis Švitins from the National Archives of Latvia gave participants an overview of the Exile Art Collection at the National Museum of Fine Arts. In addition to his presentation, we had the opportunity to visit the museum, where seminar participants were introduced to the National Museum of Fine Arts collection and storage rooms.

Apart from topics concerning the political activities of Baltic diaspora, art, and cultural themes, there were two other presentations. Maija Krumina talked about the National Oral History Archives and opportunities for researchers of Latvian refugees and diaspora. Maija Hinkle, representative of their partner project, the Latvians Abroad Museum and Research Centre, added some very interesting remarks about the methods of field work in her own experience. The presentation was followed by a short excursion to the rooms of National Oral History Archives in the same building.

These two seminar days passed quickly in a productive atmosphere. We heard interesting presentations, shared our experiences and ideas, and found new, good ideas and made new contacts. Many thanks to the organisers of the event and we eagerly await the next seminar!

Karin Kiisk, Ellu Maar