Volume 19

Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis, Vol. 19Identity Politics: Histories, Regions and Borderlands

Acta Historica Universitatis Klaipedensis, Vol. XIX
Studia Anthropologica, III

Edited by Vytis Čiubrinskas, Rimantas Sliužinskas

Klaipėda, 2009



Thomas Hylland ERIKSEN
Living in an Overheated World: Otherness as a Universal Condition

Abstract and Full Text
Established as a staple in studies of globalisation, the concept of the network implies that stable hierarchies and structures are giving way to nodal, multi-centred and fluid systems, and that this change takes place in numerous fields of interaction. Although the term itself is relatively uncommon, glocalisation is a standard theme in nearly all anthropological writing about globalisation as well as most of the sociological and geographical literature. Moreover, concepts describing impurity or mixing – hybridity, creolisation and so on – are specific instances of this general approach stressing the primacy of the local. The local–global dichotomy is, in other words, misleading. Bauman’s term ‘liquid modernity’ sums up this theoretical focus, which emphasises the uncertainty, risk and negotiability associated with phenomena as distinct as personal identification, economies and world climate in the ‘global era’. Ambivalence and fundamentalism in the politics of identity are seen to stem simultaneously from this fundamental uncertainty.
Key Words: otherness, globalization, glocalization, reflexivity, fluidity, liquid modernity, rights issues.


Jonathan D. HILL
History, Power, and Identity: Amazonian Perspectives

Abstract and Full Text
The concept of ethnogenesis offers a theoretical approach to hybridity and syncretism that finesses the tensions between “New Amazonian Ethnography” and “New Amazonian History” by simultaneously encompassing the study of indigenous ontologies and alternative constructions of history (i.e., “mytho-historical narratives”) as well as the reconstruction of history from all available sources. Ethnogenesis can be defined as a process of authentically re-making new social identities through creatively rediscovering and refashioning components of ‘tradition,’ such as oral narratives, written texts, and material artefacts. Understood in these terms, ethnogenesis allows us to explore the cultural creativity of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples alike in the making of new interpretive and political spaces that allow people to construct enduring social identities while moving forward in the globalizing nation-states of Latin America.
Key Words: history, power, identity, Amazon, ethnogenesis, culture, tradition.


Hegemonic Narratives and Religious Identity Politics in Contemporary Lithuania

Abstract and Full Text
The essay introduces the Gramscian concept of hegemony to the study of identity politics, with a special focus on the distinction established by Jean and John Comaroff between hegemony and identity. The case of Catholic identity in Lithuania is used as an illustration why identity politics tend to fail when they are perceived to serve the ends of ideology rather than creating a hegemonic consensus.
Key Words: identity politics, hegemony, ideology, Catholicism, cultural heritage, Lithuania.


Ida Harboe KNUDSEN
Who Represents Who? A Critical Approach to Current Lithuanian Identity Discourse

Abstract and Full Text
In this article I look at popular forms of self-representation in Lithuania, which are born out of a period of time where EUrope, EUropeanization and modernization are getting increasingly important. I argue that such discourses tend to exclude certain parts of the population and thus show a limited part of a complex picture. As I argue with an example from rural Lithuania, all Lithuanian citizens still respond to the many changes which came about with the EU and incorporate new features in their everyday life. They are, sadly enough, not the ones who get to formulate what it means to be Lithuanian in present day society.
Key Words: identity, EUropeanization, new Lithuanians, rural change.


Victor C. DE MUNCK; Davorin TRPESKI
The Fallacy of Misplaced Identity in Macedonia and Lithuania

Abstract and Full Text
Using case studies from Macedonia and Lithuania, the authors develop a three level theory of the formation and dynamics of national identity. Case study material is used to show how first order levels of identity such as common language, religion, ethnicity and history are by themselves unmotivated until they are anthropomorphized as national characteristics and capacities, usually in heroic proportion. This second level order of national identity gives life to national identity but also can emphasize differences between different groups of people; a third epistemological level is often required which, if it is effective is a way of selectively emphasizing similarities and eliding differences across these disparate groups that constitute the nation. This theoretical model integrates “top down” and “bottom up” approaches to understanding the formation of national identity and case studies are used to support and illustrate the theory.
Key Words: national identity, Macedonia, Lithuania, epistemology identity, scale of integration, selective knowing.


Reclaimed Identity: Heritage and Genealogy of the Lithuanian Immigrants in Texas

Abstract and Full Text
The article aims at delineating particular shape of identity used among those contemporary Texans who are descendants of the Lithuanian immigrants of one hundred and fifty years ago. It is argued that such an identity can be understood as traced, evoked and reclaimed, as well as based on local heritage and genealogy and thus local rather than ethnic. What is important for the modern ethnic (or post-ethnic) identity of the Texan Americans of Lithuanian descent is not the traditional criteria of ethnicity (such as language retention or endogamy), but rather recent histories, compiled via the internet, and recently constructed or even invented symbols and narratives of ethnic belonging. The historical marker for ‘Lithuanians in Texas’ and also narratives of the ethnic pride on ‘Lithuanians as Texas pioneers’ are among the examples of that.
Key Words: ethnic heritage, genealogy, migration, identity politics, Texas, Lithuanians.



Christian GIORDANO
Political Regionalisms in a Globalized World-System: Local Identity Constructions in Europe

Abstract and Full Text
In this article we shall put forward a typology of the various expressions of political regionalism in Europe grounded in the assumption of the existence of two basic yet, surprisingly enough, not fully divergent forms; i.e. ethnic regionalism and transnational regionalism. In the first case, we paradoxically encounter a scaled down replica of the national State (Catalonia, Basque Country, “Padania” etc.) while in the second case, apparently with a post-ethnic connotation, just as paradoxically we are dealing with transnational yet not entirely non-ethnic projects (Black Sea Region, Tatarstan etc.).
Key Words: Political Anthropology, Europe, Glocalization, National State, Sovereignty, Political Regionalism, Ethnicity, Transnationalism.


Regions in France and Europe: Some Historical Considerations on an Intermediate Level of Belonging

Abstract and Full Text
This short paper presents some aspects of regionalisation in France in the light of different ideological contexts since the 1789 revolution and especially the permanent struggle between centralism and ‘décentralisation’. This historic perspective evokes the changing sociopolitical attitudes in France in regard to regions and their cultural diversity. In a second part, the author proposes some reflections about the conceptual use of the idea of region in Europe today in the light of its use during the French nation-building process. The paper concludes by suggesting that the region as an intermediary spatial category always appears to the anthropologist as a necessarily ambivalent category of belonging between wider inclusive and smaller included identities.
Key Words: regions, France, Europe, historical considerations, centralism, “decentralization”.


Reisen in die Vergangenheit: Deutsche Heimattouristen auf der Kurischen Nehrung
EN title: Journeys into the Past: German ‘Roots Tourism’ on the Curonian Spit

Abstract and Full Text
Since 1990 many Germans travel to the former German regions in Eastern Europe from which they or their relatives had been displaced in the course of World War II. Studying the case of Nida on the Curonian Spit in Lithuania – the former Nidden in East Prussia and the Memel district, respectively – the article examines the role of ‘roots-tourism’ (Heimattourismus) for the visitors as well as for the town Nida. Visits to the former homeland spark the examination of one’s own life story. This enables the former inhabitants to overcome their homesickness so that they gradually become ‘normal’ tourists. In this process they reinforce the ‘place-myth’ of this region as an idyllic paradise at the Baltic Sea. Tourism, thus, provides for continuity by reconstructing the past in the mind of the visitors as well as in the tourist place. The article points out how the tourism industry tunes its ears to the visitors’ demands and offers different approaches to the past.
Key Words: German roots tourism, Curonian Spit, Nida, Lithuania, place-myth, nostalgia, memory.


Carole LEMÉE
Processes of Identity Reconstitution for Descendants of Jewish Emigrants from the Baltic and Central Europe in Post-Holocaust Situations

Abstract and Full Text
This paper deals with the processes of identity reconstitution for descendants of Jewish emigrants from the Baltic and Central Europe, and with the current relationships they have with these regions. Considering their practices of identity reconnexion which are part of identity re-registration processes, the attention is centered on the individual and collective identity economies existing in victims’ families, and on the social interactions increasing in the context of the institutional politics concerning the Baltic and Central Europe. Many descendants of victims begin nowadays to come more and more to zones where their families lived, and not only to the extermination places. They try to find all that happened in the social history of their family before and during the Holocaust, and also what occurred for the Jews in these territories during the Soviet domination. They seek there the past and current presence of their cultural and historical heritage, which is also one of the important components of the European inheritance.
Key Words: reconnexion practices, historical identity, processes of reconstitution and re-registration, genocide and ethnocide, post-genocide and post-ethnocide situations, migration, memory.


Ullrich KOCKEL
European Ethnology as Engaged Toposophy

Abstract and Full Text
In this essay, I shall argue that Ethnology can be seen as a scientific approach to the local that promotes a comparative understanding of the “own” and the “other” (and hence of encounters and conflicts) both among humans and between human and non-human subjects, viewed as part of a “local household”. The three approaches are not competing with one another but flowing together, building on and mutually conditioning one another. Their starting point is topography, the thorough description of place; this flows into topology – the interpretation of place with a view to improving the conditions of conviviality – and toposophy, understandings of how lived experience forms our worldview and beliefs grounded in the wisdom of place. In the question of how we express these beliefs in our definitions of the Local, the cycle, in a sense, returns to its starting point.
Key Words: European ethnology, toposophy, topography, topology, interdisciplinary sciences, regionalism.



Identities and Identity Politics on the Baltic Border: an Estonian School in Russia

Abstract and Full Text
The article discusses the politicization of language, ethnicity and nationality issues in a border region between Estonia and Russia. The region’s recent past as part of the Soviet Union has a strong bearing on local peoples’ attitudes towards languages and language users in the neighbouring country and among the minorities. Russian-Estonian relations on all levels continue to be affected by the language situation of the former Soviet Union: the dominant status of Russian and the threatened position of Estonian. I discuss the debate around the altered status of the Estonian-language school located in the Russian Pskov region which borders with Estonia. This border region is interesting because of a very long-term co-existence and common history of both Estonian-speaking and Russian-speaking populations. The transformation of the Estonian school in Pechory from a minority language school into a foreign language school can be understood on one hand as a straight-forward response to pressures from declining numbers of pupils that schools in peripheral rural areas are facing everywhere. On the other hand, the case of this particular school can also be seen as an example of the increasing politicization and political use of language and ethnic issues in the Russian Federation.
Key Words: language policies and politics, identity formation, multilingualism, state borders, Russian-Estonian relations.


Challenging Borders and Constructing Boundaries: an Analysis of Roma Political Processes

Abstract and Full Text
The purpose of this article is to show the process by which Roma elite members actually construct political and cultural boundaries and at the same time propose a deterritorialised version of a Nation across state borders. As a result, the nation-building project and the process of ethnicisation promoted by Roma activists and members of the elite can be understood as a process of challenging borders and setting up boundaries. On the one hand, state borders may represent the barrier to surmount in order to accomplish an alliance based on a supposed ethnic category. On the other hand, the analysis of Roma identity and political strategies reveals the different forms of boundaries that may exist and how they may in fact be created and manipulated.
Key Words: Roma communities, nationalism, ethnogenesis, identity strategies.



A Review of: Lietuviškojo identiteto trajektorijos. Studija. Sud. V. ČIUBRINSKAS, J. KUZNECOVIENĖ. Kaunas: Vytauto Didžiojo universiteto leidykla, 2008.

A Review of: Lietuvos etnologija: socialinės antropologijos ir etnologijos studijos, 2005, t. 5; 2006, t. 6.

A Review of: LIUBINIENĖ, Neringa. Migrantai iš Lietuvos Šiaurės Airijoje: „savos erdvės“ konstravimas. Daktaro disertacija. Kaunas: Vytauto Didžiojo universiteto leidykla, 2009.

A Review of: PETRUŽYTĖ, Donata. Atliekų rinkėjų gyvensena: Kariotiškių sąvartyno atvejo studija. Daktaro disertacija. Vilnius: Vilniaus universiteto leidykla, 2009.