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The 53rd issue of the interdisciplinary scientific journal "Letonica" of the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia (ILFA) brings together the latest research in the humanities and social sciences and stimulates academic discussion on a wide range of topics.

Agita Lūse (Riga Stradiņš University) in her article "Perspectives on Ethnography in Latvia of the 1930s and 1940s. The Case of Ziedonis Ligers" examines the emergence of ethnography as an academic discipline in Latvia and the fate of ethnologist Ziedonis Ligers (1917-2001), illustrating the processes that shaped the understanding of the discipline in the inter-war period. Ginta Pērle-Sīle (University of Latvia; ILFA) in her article "Material Selection Principles for the Folk Song Collections collected by Baltic-Germans and Published in the First Half of the 19th Century" focuses on the first collections of Latvian folk songs collected and published by the German-Baltics, and by comparing these collections with the "Latvju dainas" (Latvian Songs), the author reflects on the possible belonging of the included folk songs to Latvian traditions and festivals and provides insights into the strategies and circumstances of the collection's creation.

Ilze Jansone (University of Latvia) in her article "Towards Syncretic Spirituality: Dimensions of Religion in the Novel When "Water Shimmers" by Nora Ikstena" uses hermeneutic methods to analyse the latest Latvian prose work, focusing on the author's use of "imaginative apologetics". Laura Laurušaitė (Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore) in her article "The Role of Food in Creating Identity: Examples of Contemporary Latvian and Lithuanian Literature" focuses on the choice of food and culinary practices in literary works, suggesting that food can be used to explore the period of occupation that most influenced 20th century Lithuanian and Latvian identities, and perestroika as an attempt to get rid of a foreign power. Ausma Cimdiņa (University of Latvia) in her article "Apocalypse of Soviet War Novel in Latvian Literature: "In the Glow of War" by Visvaldis Lāms" explores the war novel through the well-known work by V. Lāms, in which the author represents the image of a legionary and portrays the Second World War from the perspective of the Latvian people and the Latvian legionary.

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17–21 June, 2024, the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Arts of the University of Latvia is organising the 19th Congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research (ISFNR), bringing together researchers of traditional tales, fairy tales, legends and fables as well as contemporary narratives from all over the world to discuss how events in the world echo in our everyday stories.

The world has undergone major changes in the last decade: the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russian-led war in Ukraine, the rise of artificial intelligence and the increasingly tangible impact of climate change are just some of the factors that have changed the way we live, behave, think and communicate. This has translated into increased migration, urbanisation, digitalisation and has contributed to the polarisation and radicalisation of society. The impact of these various factors and processes is also reverberating in popular narratives, changing their form, content, function, performance, circulation, etc. In order to reflect at an academic level on how and why everyday narratives have changed, the theme of the 19th Congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research (ISFNR) is 'Folk Narratives in a Changing World'.

This year, the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Arts of the University of Latvia has been entrusted with the organisation of the ISFNR Congress, which takes place every four years, thus not only bringing together folk narrative researchers from all over the world and drawing attention to the culture of storytelling in Latvia, but also celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Latvian Folklore Archives on an international level.

The Congress will bring together more than 150 researchers from 29 countries: from Europe and other continents, representing the USA, Canada, China, Japan, India, Argentina, etc. The range of topics covered by the papers will be equally wide, and will be presented over four days in several parallel sessions, making it possible to identify commonalities and differences in the field of popular narratives in different societies in different parts of the world. The programme of the event is here: https://en.lfk.lv/isfnr2024-program

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On June 12, the recipients of the 2024 European Union Citizen Science Award were announced. For the first time, an Honorary Mention was given to a project from the Baltic States – the citizen science digital platform iesaisties.lv, developed by the Institute of Literature, Folklore, and Art of the University of Latvia (ILFA). Iesaisties.lv platform invites public participation in the humanities and cultural heritage field.

The jury, comprised of internationally recognized citizen science experts, stated:

“As jury members, the range of projects we reviewed allowed us a unique insight into the transformative potential of citizen science to shape the future of Europe. These awards are a testament not only to the achievements of individual citizen scientists but also to the collective spirit of collaboration and discovery that drives this movement forward. We respect the dedication and passion of all participants in this competition, while highlighting those projects that have achieved excellence in citizen science.”

The European Union Citizen Science Award, organized with the support of the European Commission, is the most prestigious international recognition for citizen science projects. The annual prize recognizes outstanding initiatives that put research, innovation, commitment and creativity at the service of our society, empowering us as individuals and strengthening us as a community. This year, 3 winners and 27 honorary mentions were selected from 288 projects submitted from 49 countries, among them – ILFA's project.

Digital citizen science is a strategic development area for the Institute of Literature, Folklore, and Art at the University of Latvia in the field of digital humanities. The iesaisties.lv platform encompasses various initiatives created and curated by researchers from different humanities disciplines, IT specialists, artists, and communication professionals. Some initiatives are organized in collaboration with partners such as the UNESCO Latvian National Commission, the National Library of Latvia, the Institute of Mathematics and Computer Science at the University of Latvia, and the Latvian Open Technology Association, among others.

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The scientific journal "Letonica", published by the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia (ILFA), has been ranked in the top quartiles (Q1 and Q2) of the latest ranking of the international citation database Scopus. This confirms that the citation index of original scientific articles published in the journal reaches at least 50% of the industry average citation index.

The Scopus database indexes the journal in five areas - literature and literary theory (Q1), visual and performing arts (Q1), history (Q2), music (Q2), and cultural studies (Q2) - thus covering the broadest range of topics among Latvian academic journals.

"The news about the excellent performance of "Letonica" coincides with the 25th anniversary of the journal and the publication of its 50th issue last year, when, in retrospect, the main key to its success - a wide range of authors from outside the ILFA, interdisciplinarity and a gradually growing attraction of foreign authors - crystallised. Much credit is due to the former editors, especially to the current Editor-in-Chief, Jānis Ogas, who has carefully monitored not only the high scientific quality of the journal but also the opportunities for increasing citation rates and disseminating the journal to a wide international academic community. Publishing in "Letonica" and other journals included in international citation databases allows humanities researchers to reach a wide scholarly audience by presenting research results of national importance to foreign colleagues and engaging in co-publications, placing their research interests in wider contexts."

Vice-Rector of Sciences of the University of Latvia Assoc. Prof. Guntars Kitenbergs emphasises that "the humanities at the University of Latvia have a special role and a special responsibility in the national context. At the same time, modern science is international, so it is important to present national issues in a way that is relevant to current research trends and is internationally visible. The team at ILFA and "Letonica" is doing this by setting an excellent example to learn from and follow."

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On June 20, within the framework of the Congress of the International Society for Research on Folklore Narratives (https://en.lfk.lv/isfnr2024), a digitalhumanities.lv workshop will take place at the House of Nature of the Academic Centre of the University of Latvia, in collaboration with CLARIN-LV and DARIAH-EU. It will be moderated by independent researcher Joshua Hagedorn (USA). The hands-on workshop will be particularly useful for folklore researchers and will focus on working with text corpora.

Participants will be expected to participate actively, so a laptop and advance preparation by installing the necessary software will be required. No prior knowledge is required for this workshop.

The hands-on workshop will be held in person in English only.

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The latest issue of the interdisciplinary scientific journal "Letonica" of the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia is devoted to the theme "Experiences in the City: narratives, memories and heritage of place". It brings together 13 scientific publications and represents 15 researchers.

"The importance of urban research has grown significantly since 2007, when for the first time more people in the world lived in urban areas than in rural areas. New communities have emerged in the city, no longer bound by kinship but by knowledge, shared living space, economic interests, and the dynamics of public urban community practices that include both everyday rituals and festive events. Except for a few examples, so far, little attention has been paid in Latvian urban studies to the city from the point of view of the local population, using ethnographic research methods. One such urban research initiative is the project "Urban Experiences: Narratives, Memories and Place Heritage" (No. lzp-2020/1-0096), implemented by the of the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art and supported by the Latvian Council of Science, which ran from the beginning of 2021 until the end of 2023," writes Gatis Ozoliņš, folklorist and leading researcher at the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia and editor of the thematic issue.

The thematic issue brings together 13 scientific publications, 15 researchers from 5 institutions are represented: Elīna Gailīte (ILFA), Rita Grīnvalde (ILFA), Justīne Jaudzema (ILFA), Sigita Ignatjeva and Anda Kuduma (RTU Liepāja), Angelika Juško-Štekele (Rēzeknes Tehnoloģiju akadēmija), Janīna Kursīte and Ingus Barovskis (Latvijas Universitātes Humanitāro zinātņu fakultāte), Otto Ķenga (Latvijas Kultūras akadēmija), Aigars Lielbārdis (ILFA), Gatis Ozoliņš (ILFA), Olga Senkāne (Rēzeknes Tehnoloģiju akadēmija), Una Smilgaine (ILFA), Kārlis Vērdiņš (ILFA) and Ieva Vīvere (ILFA).

Design by Tatjana Raičiņeca. Literary editors Signe Raudive and Laine Kristberga. The issue is published with the support of the University of Latvia and the Latvian Council of Science.

Open access: https://lulfmi.lv/en/Letonica-Nr-54

More about journal: https://lulfmi.lv/en/page/view?link=journal-letonica/about

On 22 May at 15.00, the second seminar in the digitalhumanities.lv series, organised in collaboration with CLARIN-LV and DARIAH-EU, focusing on digital humanities and historical research, will take place online. The aim of this webinar is to reflect on the work of the historian faced with his sources and the possibilities offered by digital tools. It presents a 5-year work on archival sources on the violence inflicted on the civilian population in Italy between 1943 and 1945, carried out using data visualisation methods. The findings of this research, carried out with the major institutes of historical memory of the Second World War in Italy, will be presented but, above all, we will pose a methodological reflection for all participants, trying to share how the digital can confirm or question historiography.

Giovanni Pietro Vitali holds a PhD in Linguistic Sciences from the University for Foreigners of Perugia and in Italian Literature from the Université de Lorraine, as part of an international doctoral thesis cotutorship programme. He is Associate Professor in Digital Humanities at the Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines – Université Paris-Saclay and secretary in the board of Humanistica, the Francophone association for Digital Humanities. Since 2018 he has been associate researcher at the University of Oxford where he is the Digital Humanities advisor of the Prismatic Translation project (https://prismaticjaneeyre.org/). His main research interests focus on: Digital Humanities, Contemporary History, Linguistics, Onomastics, Contemporary Literature and Cultural Studies.

The working language of the seminar is English.

To get a Zoom link, please register: https://ej.uz/digitalhumanitiesLV-22052024

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POSTCOLONIAL SITUATION IN THE ARTS AFTER THE COLLAPSE OF THE SOVIET UNION: EXPERIENCE, IMPACT, REASSESSMENT

International interdisciplinary conference

Riga, April 10 – 12, 2025

Venue: Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music

CALL FOR PAPERS

From 2023 to 2026, five scientific institutions of Latvia – Latvian Academy of Culture, Jāzeps Vītols Latvian Academy of Music, Art Academy of Latvia, Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of University of Latvia and National Library of Latvia implement a project “Cultural and creative ecosystem of Latvia as a resource of resilience and sustainability”/CERS (No. VPP-MM-LKRVA-2023/1-0001) funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Latvia in the framework of the State Research Programme “Latvian Culture – a Resource for National Development”). The project aims to create new knowledge about the influence of the USSR occupation (1940–1941; 1944–1990/1991) on Latvian culture today. Aware that the research of this topic relates to diverse disciplines and fits into the wider context of cultural processes, we invite you to apply for participation in the international scientific conference held in Riga, Latvia.

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The Baltic Digital Humanities Forum, a key event for the digital humanities community in the Baltic region, will take place next week, on 25–26 April. Hosted by the University of Latvia in its new Academic Center, the DH Forum brings together researchers and practitioners from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and other countries, and provides a platform to explore the development and impact of digital humanities (DH) in the field of humanities. As digital humanities are becoming an increasingly important part of the region's academic landscape, this forum is an important venue for discussion and networking among the growing Baltic digital humanities communities.

The first day of the Baltic DH Forum will feature a series of enlightening sessions with prominent speakers from the Baltic digital humanities research communities, representatives from national ministries and key European infrastructures in humanities – CLARIN ERIC and DARIAH-EU. These sessions are designed to provide a nuanced exploration of the evolution of Baltic digital humanities over recent decades, examine the impact of research infrastructures on the growth of the humanities, and discuss future directions for the field. The first two sessions will be available to a broader audience via live stream (University of Latvia Livestream Channel).

On the second day, the focus will shift towards a more interactive format. Forty-five research teams from three Baltic States and a few other countries will take the opportunity to present their digital humanities projects, showcase newly developed digital resources and tools, and introduce various educational initiatives, from online training platforms to summer schools and higher education modules.

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Students, researchers, and GLAM professionals are welcome to enrol in the Sixth Baltic Summer School of Digital Humanities: Large Language Models and Small Languages, which will be held on 22-26 July 2024 at the National Library of Latvia (NLL) and online.

The Baltic Summer School of Digital Humanities is an international intensive continuing education programme that provides the opportunity to researchers, educators, and students of humanities and social sciences, as well as archive, library and museum professionals to master various digital research skills, from data wrangling and analysis to visualisation.

This year, participants will have the opportunity to learn text processing and data visualization using the Python programming language, led by researchers from the National Library of Latvia and faculty from the University of Latvia and Riga Technical University, Uldis Bojārs and Valdis Saulespurēns. The curriculum will spotlight the capabilities and research applications of large language models. Andres Karjus, a researcher specializing in computer linguistics and cultural analytics at the University of Tallinn’s CUDAN Open Lab, will showcase the efficiency and speed with which these sophisticated language models can conduct text annotation and analysis, surpassing the output of earlier technological generations. Līva Rotkale, a philosopher and docent at the University of Latvia, will share her insights on formulating effective inquiries for the ChatGPT language model, focused on the needs of humanities researchers and students.

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This year, Estonian researcher Johanna Ross has started her postdoctoral project "Gender Patterns in Late Soviet Estonian Girls’ Novellas" (01.01.2024 -31.12.2024, PUTJD1207). The project is based at Tallinn University and the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art at the University of Latvia. Eva Eglāja-Kristsone is scientific supervisor of the project. In Latvia, the research work will be more intensive in the second half of the year, when Johanna will also present her research in the seminar series "Poetics of Research". Johanna writes about herself:

"My areas of interest are women's writing, Soviet literature, Estonian literary history and the history of literary criticism. In 2018 I defended my PhD thesis on the Soviet Estonian women's Bildungsroman and ways of reading it. My current postdoctoral project focuses on Soviet Baltic girls' literature. In the 1960s-1970s, a distinct "girls'" strand of fiction emerged in Estonian youth literature, with girls as protagonists, their inner lives and personal relationships as the main themes. Its often sentimental and dreamy poetics stood out against the background of the earlier, predominantly masculine, perky and adventurous Soviet children's literature. My aim is to describe this movement in a contemporary context and to look for parallels in Latvian youth literature of the time. I am also the editor-in-chief of the journal Keel ja Kirjandus (Language and Literature)."

Palgrave Macmillan Cham has published "The Politics of Literary History", a multi-year study on the historiography of literature in Latvia, the Czech Republic, Finland and Russia after 1990.

The book was edited by Liisa Steinby, Mikhail Oshukov, Viola Parente-Čapková and Benedikts Kalnačs.

This book looks at literary historiography in Russia, Latvia, the Czech Republic and Finland, focusing on how seismic shifts in state politics and ideology after 1990 changed the writing of national literary histories in these countries. While Russia saw a return to a more nationalist way of thinking about literature and a new emphasis on Orthodox religion after the fall of the Soviet Union, the opposite is true for Latvia, the Czech Republic and Finland. In these countries, literary historiography fosters connections between Western scholarship and literatures written in the national language and engages with questions such as transnationalism, minorities, culture and power, and the cultural construction of identities. This book scrutinizes the different ways in which the construction of national, cultural and European identities has occurred in and through the literary historiography of North-Eastern Europe in the last few decades.

Seven literary scholars have contributed to the book, highlighting and presenting the paradigms of literary history in their countries. The chapter "Latvian Literature as an Ideologically and Politically Contested Terrain: Literary Historiography Between Foreign Rule, Nationalism, and Comparative Perspectives" was written in collaboration with ILFA researchers Benedikts Kalnačs and Māra Grudule. It focuses on the traditions of Latvian literary history writing from 1812 to the beginning of the 21st century.

More information here.


The two latest thematic issues of the interdisciplinary academic journal "Letonica" of the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia (ILFA) – no. 51 and 52 – in English with a common theme "Shifting Literary Culture since Stagnation in the Brezhnev Era: the Baltic Paradigm".

The issues of the journal are devoted to the process of literature, music, theatre, opera, ballet and cinema in stagnation (1964–1985) – an era with its own unique rules and place in the history of the Soviet period – and present new research on Baltic literature and book publishing in an internationally recognised and cited interdisciplinary scientific journal, promoting discussion among scholars and professionals on the topics covered in the articles. The issues of the journal continue to explore the most significant events and the most prominent personalities of Baltic literature and book studies, to deepen knowledge of the activities and contacts of Baltic writers and cultural figures during the Soviet occupation, and to stimulate the interest of literary and other research professionals of different generations in unexplored or lesser-known aspects of Baltic literature and book studies.

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"Folklore and Ethnology in the Soviet Western Borderlands", edited by ILFA senior researcher Toms Ķencis, Simon J. Bronner and Elo-Hanna Seljamaa, has been published by Lexington Books.

Thirteen international scholars assess the profound impact of Soviet-era movements to study, apply, and perform folklore as a priority in socialist policy-formation and culture-building. Representing generations who lived through and after Soviet occupation, they reflect on the consequences of state-supported promotion of folk arts in a region called the Western Borderlands that include Baltic countries, Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, Belarus, Romania, and Hungary. In their incisive analyses, authors present original archival materials as well as ethnographic data to understand colonialist support for bottom-up folklore movements and resistance to them. Capping the volume is a timely consideration of Soviet orchestration of folkloristic work on present developments in conflicts of Russia with its neighbors and alignments with Western folkloristics and ethnology.

ILFA researchers have contributed to several book chapters – Toms Ķencis wrote the introduction "Introduction: The Analytics of 'Socialist in Form, National in Content' in the Soviet Western Borderlands" and the chapter "Folklore and Nationalism in the Soviet Western Borderlands"; Digne Ūdre the chapter "Ideological Tuning of Latvian Folk Ornament"; Gatis Ozoliņš "The Dievturi Movement under the Soviet Regime", and Elīna Gailīte "The Influence of Soviet Authority on the Formation of Latvian Staged Folk Dance".

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Digital humanities researchers, practitioners and developers are invited to participate in the Baltic DH Forum scheduled for April 25–26, 2024 in Riga!

Dates: April 25–26, 2024

Location: National Library of Latvia, Riga

Participation Fee: None

Deadline for Applications: January 25, 2024

Event Website: http://www.digitalhumanities.lv/baltic-dh-forum-2024

Digital humanities have become a solid part of the research landscapes in the Baltic countries. Over the recent decades, this transformation has been evident through the vibrant and enthusiastic DH communities, the emergence of new research groups and centers, and the increasing presence of digital humanities courses and programs in higher education. This marks the right time for the digital humanities communities of the three Baltic States to come together, to look at how and in what directions DH has developed in our countries, to reflect on what is relevant today and to project what lies ahead in the near future.

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