The Making and Breaking of Soviet Lithuania
Memory and Modernity in the Wake of War
New Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Eastern European StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Literary StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Russian and Eurasian Studies January 3, 2017 Amanda Jeanne Swain
In The Making and Breaking of Soviet Lithuania: Memory and Modernity in the Wake of War, published by Routledge, Violeta Davoliute calls Lithuania an improbably successful and paradoxically representative case study of 20th century modernization and nation-building? As she traces the rushed and often violent process of modernization in post-World War II Lithuania, Davoliute demonstrates how cultural elites wove together nationalist and communist ideologies to shape the emerging Soviet Lithuania. She argues that writers Petras Vaiciunas and Justis Paleckis used a poetics of reconstruction to integrate Lithuania’s medieval past into a broader Soviet narrative of the future and that this engagement the development of indigenous pro-Soviet cultural elites. Davoliute then looks at the rustic turn in the 1970s and makes the case that cultural conservatives were able to provide an alternative aesthetic of authentic identity, not based on Soviet Lithuanian modernity but on a discourse of trauma and deracination. Her analysis ends with a look at the relationship between establishment intellectuals and deportees as exemplified by role of Justinas Marcinkevicius in the publication of Dalia Grinkeviciutes memoirs of deportation to Siberia at age 14.
Violeta Davoliute is a Senior Researcher in the Faculty of History at Vilnius University and the Lithuanian Cultural Research Institute. She was the 2015-2016 Joseph P. Kazickas Associate Research Scholar at Yale University. Davoliute has also been a Senior Researcher at the Lithuanian Institute of Literature and Ethnography, where she worked on mass population displacements and deportations from Lithuania to the Soviet gulag. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Toronto in 2004.