Singing Revolution Embraced Disciplines: Identity Politics vis-a-vis Ethnology and Anthropology

Vytis Ciubrinskas


The ethno-cultural nationalism and (re)Westernization featured in the post-communist change of the Baltic States are reflected in the (re)establishment of the disciplines of national ethnology and social and cultural anthropology. This paper seeks to unpack the influence of the Singing Revolution – an analogue of the Velvet Revolution and other echoes of the Berlin Wall’s fall in the late 1980s – the embrace of national identity politics on the educational and research strategies of these two disciplines using the case of Lithuania. It suggests that national ethnology became a strategic field of political importance due to its expertise in ‘revealing the nation’s original character’ and ‘cultural tradition’, nowadays still largely framed by “Lithuanian studies”, the state prioritized field of research vulnerable to methodological nationalism. Social and cultural anthropology arrived as a novelty resisting methodological nationalism and deconstructing ethno-nationalist research strategies and was met as Westernization or an ‘American concoction’.
It faced difficulties of its recognition as a separate field of studies among ‘big brother’ disciplines of history, national ethnology, or sociology.

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