Baltic Postcolonialism


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Emerging from the ruins of the former Soviet Union, the literature of the Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia is analyzed from the fruitful perspective of postcolonialism, a theoretical approach whose application to former second-world countries is in its initial stages. This groundbreaking volume brings scholars working in the West together with those who were previously muffled behind the Iron Curtain. They gauge the impact of colonization on the culture of the Baltic states and demonstrate the relevance of concepts first elaborated by a wide range of critics from Frantz Fanon to Homi Bhabha. Examining literary texts and the situation of the intellectual reveals Baltic concerns with identity and integrity, the rewriting of previously blotted out or distorted history, and a search for meaning in societies struggling to establish their place in the world after decades - and perhaps millennia - of oppression. The volume dips into the late Tsarist period, then goes more deeply into Soviet deportations to the Gulag, while the main focus is on works of the turning-point in the late 1980s and 1990s. Postcolonial concepts like mimicry, subjectivity and the Other provide a new discourse that yields fresh insights into the colonized countries’ culture and their poignant attempts to fight, to adapt and to survive. This book will be of interest to literary critics, Baltic scholars, historians and political scientists of Eastern Europe, linguists, anthropologists, psychologists, sociologists, working in the area of postcommunism and anyone interested in learning more about these ancient and vibrant cultures.

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Violeta Kelertas is Associate Professor and Endowed Chair of Lithuanian Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received her Ph.D. in comparative literature at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is past president of the Association for the Advancement of Baltic Studies (1996– 1998) and recipient of grants from the International Research and Exchanges Board (1986–1987) and the Fulbright Commission (1994) for research and lecturing in Lithuania. She is the author of numerous articles and reviews mainly on Soviet Lithuanian literature and criticism and has propagated feminism, postmodernism and postcolonialism as rich approaches to Lithuanian prose fiction. Her volume of translated short stories, “Come into My Time”: Lithuania in Prose Fiction (University of Illinois Press, 1992) bears her lengthy introduction. Well-known as a translator, she also edits several journals in the United States, Lituanus and Metmenys, and serves on several editorial boards in Lithuania.
"The literary and cultural analysis in many of the contributions is sophisticated and should be ofgreat interest to students of Baltic literatures and cultures in particular, and post-soviet identity in general." – in: Slavic and East European Journal 52/1 (Spring 2008)
'Baltic Postcolonialism in its scope is an important contribution to thinking not only about the Baltics, but also about all of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. It is an invigorating addition to post-colonial studies and should engage scholars within and outside of the disciplines of literary criticism, philosophy, and cultural studies in further dialogue." – in: Review by Neringa Klumbyte in East European Politics and Societies 21/2 (May 2007)
"an invaluable contribution to the development of postcolonial theory and a treasure for anyone who seeks to know more about the culture, history, and literature of the Baltics." – in: Kulturos Barai, 2006/7
"A thorough and penetrating investigation … the widespread reluctance to conceive of the Soviet Union as a colonial empire is compellingly undercut. … innovative content, which will surely animate debate in a range of academic spheres. [has] potential to shed new light not only on postcolonial theory but on this side of its application." – in: Lithuanian Papers 20/2006
Violeta KELERTAS: Introduction: Baltic Postcolonialism and its Critics
David Chioni MOORE: Is the Post- in Postcolonial the Post- in Post-Soviet? Towards a Global Postcolonial Critique
Karl E. JIRGENS: Fusions of Discourse: Postcolonial/Postmodern Horizons in Baltic Culture
Vytautas RUBAVIČIUS: A Soviet Experience of Our Own: Comprehension and the Surrounding Silence
Piret PEIKER: Postcolonial Change: Power, Peru and Estonian Literature
Andrejs VEISBERGS: Nazi and Soviet Dysphemism and Euphemism in Latvian
Kārlis RAČEVSKIS: Toward a Postcolonial Perspective on the Baltic States
Jūra AVIŽIENIS: Learning to Curse in Russian: Mimicry in Siberian Exile
Maire JAANUS: Estonia’s Time and Monumental Time
Arūnas SVERDIOLAS: The Sieve and the Honeycomb: Features of Contemporary Lithuanian Cultural Time and Space
Violeta KELERTAS: Perceptions of the Self and the Other in Lithuanian Postcolonial Fiction
Tiina KIRSS: Viivi Luik’s The Beauty of History: Aestheticized Violence and the Postcolonial in the Contemporary Estonian Novel
Dalia CIDZIKAITĖ: Searching for National Allegories in Lithuanian Prose: Saulius Tomas Kondrotas’s
“The Slow Birth of Nation”
Maire JAANUS: Estonia and Pain: Jaan Kross’s The Czar’s Madman
Inta EZERGAILIS: Postcolonial Subjectivity in Latvia: Some Signs in Literature
Karl E. JIRGENS: Labyrinths of Meaning in Aleksandrs Pelēcis’ Siberia Book and Agate Nesaule’s Woman in Amber: A Postmodern/Postcolonial Reading
Tiina KIRSS: Interstitial Histories: Ene Mihkelson’s Labor of Naming
Almantas SAMALAVIČIUS: Lithuanian Prose and Decolonization: Rediscovery of the Body
Thomas SALUMETS: Conflicted Consciousness: Jaan Kaplinski and the Legacy of Intra-European Postcolonialism in Estonia
Violeta KELERTAS: Foot-Loose and Fancy-Free: The Postcolonial Lithuanian Encounters Europe
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