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Vasily Sesemann

Edited by Mykolas Drunga and Leonidas Donskis

The Baltic philosopher Vasily Sesemann (1884-1963), rooted in the Classics and influenced but not dominated by Kant, Herder, Bergson, Husserl, and Lossky, was a first-rate scholar in the fields of aesthetics, epistemology, logic, and history of philosophy. But he is still relatively unknown internationally because he wrote mostly in Lithuanian and some of his many works are only now being translated into English. This successor volume to his Aesthetics collects eight noteworthy essays, ranging from the scholarly to the popular, on aesthetics, aesthetic education, national culture, and theory of knowledge. They reveal a sympathetic and responsive mind equally at home in Ancient Greek and modern French, German, and Russian philosophy; and capable both of untendentiously expounding their dominant ideas and fruitfully anticipating newer developments even as the latter began to take shape in early-to-mid-20th-century Western European philosophy. Hallmarks of Sesemann’s thought are the Heraclitean preference for becoming (dynamism, change) over being (stasis, timelessness) and the idea that any culture, in order to survive and grow, must be intellectually deep and open to foreign influences. This insight has crucial relevance to the debates about multiculturalism today.

Shrinking Citizenship

Discursive Practices that Limit Democratic Participation in Latvian Politics

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Edited by Maria Golubeva and Robert Gould

The book, based on research results from a three-year study of parliamentary and media debates in Latvia, analyses the discourses of Latvian politicians and the media about nation, citizenship, cultural diversity, history and the nation-state. This is the first large-scale study of political debates in a Baltic State from the perspective of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). Separate chapters, by researchers from Canada, Latvia, Lithuania and the UK, analyse the intersections between national identity construction, national mythmaking, concepts of citizenship, journalistic action, press ownership and questions of control of political and media discourses. All of these have impact on the fundamental questions of the relationship between individuals and the state. The authors conclude that even after the accession to the European Union in 2004, political pressures in Latvia, as also frequently on the political Right in other EU countries, promote ethnic membership as the guiding factor of state-building.

Images of the North

Histories – Identities – Ideas

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Edited by Sverrir Jakobsson

This interdisciplinary volume seeks to examine and explore the various issues surrounding image construction, identity making and representations of the North, as well as the interconnectedness between those issues. The aim is to elucidate the multiple aspects of the idea of the North, both as a mythological space and a discursive system created and shaped by cultures outside the North as well as from within. The objective of the research project Iceland and Images of the North is to elucidate several aspects of images of the North and to explore their functions in the present, focusing especially on Iceland. What effect have Iceland and its people had on images of the North, and how do those images influence the Icelanders and other nations? The project will be a cooperative, interdisciplinary undertaking by researchers in the humanities and social sciences.

Lithuania in the 1920s

A Diplomat’s Diary

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Robert W. Heingartner

Robert W. Heingartner kept this diary during his two year service as American consul in Kaunas, the provisional capital of Lithuania, 1926-1928. First titling the work “Impressions of Kaunas,” he wanted to record all his impressions of this small city about which he actually knew very little. He started with negative impressions, but he soon came to like it. He watched its growth with considerable sympathy.
The diary’s appeal lies in its picture of daily life in Kaunas as the “provisional capital” of a newly independent small state – the conditions of life in the city, the social life of the diplomats, and backstage episodes in the life of the foreign diplomats. The diary records some unusual details about the family of Antanas Smetona, the ruler of Lithuania from 1926 to 1940, and it abounds in interesting commentary on the attitudes of both Lithuanians and foreigners.

Minority Integration in Central Eastern Europe

Between Ethnic Diversity and Equality

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Edited by Timofey Agarin and Malte Brosig

The book presents a timely examination on a range of issues present in the discussions on the integration of ethnic minorities in Central Eastern Europe: norm setting, equality promotion, multiculturalism, nation-building, social cohesion, and ethnic diversity. It insightfully illustrates these debates by assessing them diachronically rather than cross-nationally from the legal, political and anthropological perspective. The contributors unpack concepts related to minority integration, discuss progress in policy-implementation and scrutinize the outcomes of minority integration in seven countries from the region. The volume is divided into three sections taking a multi-variant perspective on minority integration and equality. The volume starts with an analysis of international organizations setting standards and promoting minority rights norms on ethnic diversity and equal treatment. The second and third sections address state policies that provide fora for minority groups to participate in policy-making as well as the role of society and its various actors their development and enactment of integration concepts. The volume aims to assess the future of ethnic diversity and equality in societies across Central Eastern European states.

On Dissidents and Madness

From The Soviet Union of Leonid Brezhnev to the "Soviet Union" of Vladimir Putin

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Robert van Voren

The book contains the memoirs of Robert van Voren covering the period 1977-2008 and provides unique insights into the dissident movement in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, both inside the country and abroad. As a result of his close friendship with many of the leading dissidents and his dozens of trips to the USSR as a courier, he had intimate knowledge of the ins and outs of the dissident movement and participated in many of the campaigns to obtain the release of Soviet political prisoners. In the late 1980s he became involved in building a humane and ethical practice of psychiatry in Eastern Europe and the (ex-) USSR, based on respect for the human rights of persons with mental illness. The book describes the dissident movement and many of the people who formed it, mental health reformers in Eastern Europe and the response of the Western psychiatric community, the battle with the World Psychiatric Association over Soviet, and later, Chinese political abuse of psychiatry, his contacts with former KGB officers and problems with the KGB’s successor organization, the FSB. It also vividly describes the emotional effects of serving as a courier for the dissident movement, the fear of arrest, the pain of seeing friends disappear for many years into camps and prisons, sometimes never to return.

The Thing and Art

Two Essays on the Ontotopy of the Work of Art

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Arvydas Šliogeris

On the grounds of the interpretation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s poetry and Paul Cézanne’s paintings the book attempts to approach the work of art as a thing. This lets to overcome a one-sided aesthetical interpretation of the origin of the work of art and to indicate its place in the cosmos of uncreated, i.e. not hominized things. So, the second fundamental issue raised is a try to point out a metaphysical difference between a hominized and not hominized (natural) thing. Such a non-aesthetical point of view is called ontotopy by the author and is opposed to traditional ontology and the philosophy of art.

The Case for Latvia. Disinformation Campaigns Against a Small Nation

Fourteen Hard Questions and Straight Answers about a Baltic Country

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Jukka Rislakki

What do we know about Latvia and the Latvians? A Baltic (not Balkan) nation that emerged from fifty years under the Soviet Union – interrupted by a brief but brutal Nazi-German occupation and a devastating war – now a member of the European Union and NATO. Yes, but what else? Relentless accusations keep appearing, especially in Russian media, often repeated in the West: “Latvian soldiers single-handedly saved Lenin’s revolution in 1917”, “Latvians killed Tsar Nikolai II and the Royal family”, “Latvia was a thoroughly anti-Semitic country and Latvians started killing Jews even before the Germans arrived in 1941”, “Nazi revival is rampant in today's Latvia”, “The Russian minority is persecuted in Latvia. . .” True, false or in-between? The Finnish journalist and author Jukka Rislakki examines charges like these and provides an outline of Latvia's recent history while attempting to separate documented historical fact from misinformation and deliberate disinformation. His analysis helps to explain why the Baltic States (population 7 million) consistently top the enemy lists in public opinion polls of Russia (143 million). His knowledge of the Baltic languages allows him to make use of local sources and up-to-date historical research. He is a former Baltic States correspondent for Finland's largest daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat and the author of several books on Finnish and Latvian history. As a neutral, experienced and often critical observer, Rislakki is uniquely qualified for the task of separating truth from fiction.

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David J. Galbreath, Ainius Lašas and Jeremy W. Lamoreaux

Continuity and Change in the Baltic Sea Region uncovers the Baltic States’ foreign policy transition from Socialist Republics to EU member-states. Situated between the Russian Federation and Northern Europe, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have had to manoeuvre within an often delicate sub-region. Since independence, the foreign policies of the Baltic States have been dominated by de-Sovietization and European integration. Lying at the crossroads between small state theory and identity politics, this analysis engages with the development of Baltic foreign policies as post-Soviet, small and transitioning states.
The authors argue that Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania dictated their early foreign policy agendas based on a process of identity construction and as a response to their regional environment. This process took the Baltic States from East to West in their foreign policy aspirations. Key factors in foreign policy making and implementation are discussed, as well as external factors that shaped Baltic foreign policy agendas. Overall, the book illustrates how continuity and change in the Baltic foreign policies has been shaped by both ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ factors. It is a study in the foreign policies of transitioning states and in this regard illuminates a much larger research area beyond its geographic focus.

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Arvydas Šliogeris

In this book, probably for the first time in Western philosophy, an attempt has been made to point out and systematically explicate the problem scope of the Nothing (which is called Nihil in the book) and to try to explain the springhead of the excessive negativity, inherent only in the human being, or in other words, the springhead of the human’s natural nihilism. Nihilism is treated here not as a posture, pose, or an ideological attitude, but as the spread of the human metaphysical nucleus, of Nihil. Nihilistic annihilation, manifesting itself as the road of the naming of Nihil and of the production of thingly crystals (artificial world) as a result of that naming, usually is called “history”. Names of Nihil (language phenomena), being the antithesis of Nihil, falsify and cover up Nihil itself, turning it into “supreme” being, e.g. into “the One”, “God”, “Substance”, “Matter”, “Spirit”, ad infinitum. This book should be interesting not only to philosophers or humanitarians, but also to all those who concern themselves with the total human condition.