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Reality of rural landscape symbolism in the formation of a post-Soviet, postmodern Latvian identity

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Latvian national identity is examined in the contexts of postmodern relativism and time-space discontinuities and of post-Soviet conditions in Latvia. Under the Soviet Union, Latvians preserved their national identity by having a powerful heritage based on rural and natural icons and a voluminous collection of folk songs, the dainas. The unifying icon was an independent family farmstead landscape, composed of a cluster of traditional buildings. In post-Soviet, postmodern Latvia this heritage has diminished in importance. Its romanticized nature may not fit current existential and national realities, as shown by an examination of the origins of that heritage and its role under Russian rule. The essay concludes by a presentation of the status of the national ideology of 'Latvianness,' as articulated by several leading literati. They largely agree that in place of a grand national story (heritage), there should be the rule of law under the constitution of 1922 and freedom for artists and writers to explore individual directions.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00291959950136849

Publication date: October 1, 1999

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