LV Latviski

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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ARCHIVES OF TRADITIONAL CULTURE: 100 + 10

International Conference

Riga, Latvia

October 29-31, 2024

Approaching its 100th anniversary, the Archives of Latvian Folklore (1924), in close cooperation with the SIEF Working Group on Archives and the SIEF Working Group on Cultural Heritage and Property, invites contributions for an international conference addressing a diverse range of issues related to present and future of the archives of traditional culture. The centenary is, of course, a good reason to look back and take stock of what has been done, to understand how the histories of archiving have developed in different countries. But what we would like to do even more at this conference is to assess current situations and to look ahead, say, to the next 10 years.

What is the state of play in archiving and maintaining archives of intangible cultural heritage (in Europe and elsewhere)? What could the near future of tradition archives look like? What can we expect with certainty? What major research and infrastructure projects are planned in the archives? Do the next few years look optimistic for individual archives as well as their networks, or the other way around? What challenges lie ahead of us (legal, ethical, technological, of values)? What new archiving solutions can be offered? What can we learn from the past?

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The 19th Congress of the International Society for Folk Narrative Research (ISFNR) will be hosted by the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art (ILFA) at the University of Latvia in Riga from June 17 to 21, 2024.

The theme of the congress is "Folk Narratives in the Changing World". The ISFNR Folk Narrative, Literature, and Media Committee, Belief Narrative Network and Charms, Charmers and Charming Committe will be holding their sessions within the congress. For more information see the Call for papers.

To apply for participation in the congress, please fill out the form available at this link. Participants are kindly asked to submit an abstract for their planned presentation (length up to 300 words). Presentations should not exceed 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes of discussion. The deadline for congress applications is December 15, 2023.

ILFA's oldest department, the Archives of Latvian Folklore, will celebrate its centenary in 2024. The congress, taking place during the summer solstice period, will be one of the centennial celebration events. For more information about the congress proceedings, application, and registration, please visit the congress homepage.


On November 1, Data4UA project kicked off with the aim of enhancing data-driven cultural heritage management in Ukraine. This 18-month project, running from November 1, 2023, to April 30, 2025, brings together a dynamic consortium of partners, including the Institute of Literature, Folklore, and Art at the University of Latvia in the role of a coordinator (Latvia), Lviv Polytechnic National University (Ukraine), Space4CC (Greece/Norway), and the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia). The project is supported by the European Union's Erasmus+ program.

The primary objectives of Data4UA project are to assess the measures taken by higher education institutions (HEIs) and society in response to cultural heritage emergencies in Ukraine, enhance the knowledge and skills of higher education staff and students in safeguarding cultural heritage, and investigate the role of higher education institutions in promoting societal responses to cultural heritage emergencies.

Given the ongoing war in Ukraine, the Data4UA project is designed to support and strengthen cultural heritage data management, with a special emphasis on cultural heritage education and training systems. As war and armed conflicts continue to threaten cultural heritage on a global scale, digital technologies play a pivotal role in preserving and safeguarding these invaluable assets. UNESCO has underscored this fact in “Cutting Edge | Protecting and preserving cultural diversity in the digital era.” Data4UA focuses on European higher education staff and students, providing them with opportunities to expand their competencies, particularly in the realm of citizen-generated digital cultural heritage data and digital management training. The project includes a series of interactive learning activities built on a prototype model for enriching cultural heritage data ecosystems with contributions from citizens.

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Date: September 26-27, 2024

Hosted by: The Rainis and Aspazija Museum & The Institute of Literature, Folklore, and Art, University of Latvia

Location: The Rainis and Aspazija Summer House, Jāņa Pliekšāna Street 5/7, Majori

About the Conference:
This international gathering aims to shed light on the profound influence and intersections of Rainis and Aspazija with their European counterparts during a transformative period in European culture and literature. Delve into their intertwined ideologies, collaborations, and the broader socio-cultural themes of their epoch. Read more...

The 12th International Conference of Young Folklorists "Beyond the Field: Fieldwork in the 21st Century" will take place from 13 to 15 September at the Conference Centre of the National Library of Latvia. More than 30 young representatives from Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Finland, Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria and India will participate in the conference.

Guest lectures will be given by Ulla Savolainen, lecturer at the University of Helsinki, on "The Field of Memory Culture: Ingrian Finns' Historical Experiences through Multiple Media and Times" and by Klāvs Sedlenieks, Associate Professor at Riga Stradiņš University, on "In Search for Unknown Unknowns. Why Fieldwork is still the Way!"

The conference programme and abstracts can be found at: https://lulfmi.lv/files/YoFo2023.pdf

Everyone is welcome to attend!

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The latest thematic issue of the English-language humanities journal "Letonica" is dedicated to women's contribution to Latvian culture and society, looking at it from the perspective of history, art history and literary studies. The issue is part of the Latvian Council of Science's fundamental research project "Women Agency in Latvian Culture and Society (1870-1940)" (No. Lzp-2020/1-0215), which aims to reflect on women's contributions through the prism of biographical research, thus achieving a deeper and more nuanced understanding of history.

The introduction and the nine scholarly articles in the issue focus on agency. Women are not only active, rational subjects who want autonomy and self-realisation, fighting against dominant norms and institutions that oppress them and systematically limit their possibilities, but they also accept these norms. This reveals the multifaceted, complex and contradictory features of women's agency, which cannot be imagined outside the established gender hierarchies and institutional and structural contexts since historically specific relations also condition the ability or inability to act.

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The Institute for Literature, Folklore and Art (ILFA) at the University of Latvia has recently become a Cooperating Partner of the Digital Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (DARIAH-EU). This partnership marks an important milestone for ILFA as the first research organization from the Baltic States to join DARIAH.

DARIAH is a European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC) that aims to empower research communities by providing them with digital methods to create, connect, and share knowledge about culture and society. With 20 member states and one observer country, DARIAH has also established a network of cooperating partners in non-member countries, and ILFA is now a proud addition to this network.

ILFA is renowned for its innovative research and collaborative networks in cultural studies and humanities. Additionally, ILFA develops digital resources for humanities and art studies and actively promotes digital humanities in Latvia. ILFA's cooperation with DARIAH will grant them access to valuable data and tools for humanities research, strengthen their participation in international digital humanities networks, and contribute to the development of digital humanities in Latvia.

Through its partnership with DARIAH, ILFA aims to further strengthen its research capabilities, expand its international collaborations, and promote the development of digital humanities in Latvia. DARIAH, on the other hand, values ILFA's expertise in crowdsourcing and looks forward to leveraging their experience for their own initiatives. This collaboration not only benefits ILFA and DARIAH but also enhances the digital humanities landscape in the wider Baltic region.

Learn more about ILFA's participation as a Cooperating Partner on the DARIAH website.


On 17 May 2023, Lois Kalb will visit the ILFA and give a public lecture, “Uncommonly Modern: Property, Intimacy and Mass Housing in Late and post-Soviet Riga (1970-2000)”. Lois Kalb is a PhD researcher at the history department of the European University Institute in Florence. She is interested in the urban political economy of late Soviet mass housing districts. Her current project lays at the intersection between history and anthropology and looks at the changing relations between forms of property, intimacies and social life of mass housing districts in Riga over the course of the late Soviet period and the transition period of the 1990s.

In this lecture, she will present parts of her current PhD project on mass housing and urban social change in late and post-Soviet Riga, over the course of the 1970s, 80s, and 1990s. “I look at the transforming dynamics between large-scale political and economic processes, the urban built environment and everyday social life. By looking at different aspects of mass housing districts, such as housing maintenance and repair, housing distribution and family life, I search for emergent property relations.” The lecture will put forward some tentative findings of what such property relations can tell about the post-socialist transition in Riga, about housing privatization and people’s everyday lives becoming more private over time.

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The latest thematic issue of the humanities journal "Letonica" is dedicated to art research and is a collaboration between the Art Academy of Latvia and the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia.

This issue of the journal features publications by Art Academy of Latvia doctoral students and academic staff, which reveal the diversity of research topics in art studies today and provide a glimpse into the future of this research - both in dissertations in progress and in other research topics that will hopefully be fully developed in the coming years. The thematic diversity of the articles confirms the significant contribution of the Art Academy of Latvia to cultural and artistic research, in which traditional analysis based on extensive archival studies is complemented by a modern methodology rooted in the use of critical theory and related to current societal issues of the time.

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For the third consecutive year, doctoral students in humanities and social sciences and PhD candidates are invited to apply for the scholarly and creative conference "Day of Aspiring Scholars", which, for the first time, will take place in a hybrid format: the papers will be read in person, but a live internet broadcast will be provided, as well as the opportunity to submit pre-recorded poster presentations.

The aim of the conference is to promote academic growth of future researchers by supporting networking and solidarity. Unlike previous years, when the conference did not have a unifying theme, this year the theme of the conference is creativity in scholarship.

This theme allows highlighting creative and interdisciplinary approaches in research, thus not only creating a space for an exchange of ideas, but also supporting innovative research. Applicants are invited to reflect on what are the main unexpected obstacles encountered while developing doctoral work, and how these obstacles can be overcome using interdisciplinary, transdisciplinary, or experimental approaches, collaboration and/or various creative solutions.

The organizers encourage participants to present not only academic papers but also – to prepare interdisciplinary and creative presentations. When creating the program, applications for both academic papers and artistic performances will be considered, emphasizing those that have been developed both individually and collaboratively, and blurring the line between creative self-expression and research.

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The 12th International Conference of Young Folklorists "Beyond the Field: Fieldwork in the 21st Century" will take place from 13 to 15 September 2023. Since 2010, conferences have been held alternately in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, and in 2022 for the first time in Finland. It brings together young researchers in the field from the region.

Students, recent graduates and all those who consider themselves young folklorists are invited to participate. Please send a topic proposal and abstract (up to 350 words) by 15 May (extended deadline) to rigayofo@gmail.com

Conference working language: English.

The 12th International Conference of Young Folklorists is organised by the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia, The Archives of Latvian Folklore.

Read more: here

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