Narratives of Lithuanian Nationalism: Postcolonial Rereadings of Soviet Deportations

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Eastern Europe has not usually been considered a postcolonial place (David Moore, 2001). Speaking of Eastern Europe with postcolonial language is becoming more common, but it is an emerging phenomenon, as demonstrated by Violeta Kelertas’ recent publication of a collection of critical material on the topic: Baltic Postcolonialism (2006). My paper will argue that Eastern Europe, specifically Lithuania, is a postcolonial place and that postcolonial discourse opens up possibilities for new readings of the recent—and painful—past.

Referring to Dalia Grinkeviciute’s autobiographical narrative “Lithuanians by the Laptev Sea,” which recounts the mass deportations of Lithuanians to Siberia by the Soviets in 1941, the paper will argue that postcolonial theory challenges common approaches to the text, which is read widely throughout Lithuania (required text in secondary school). Working with Homi Bhabha’s conceptions of history in The Location of Culture (1994), the paper will suggest that painful experiences in Lithuania’s recent past, such as the deportations of 1941, are best read as continually shaping and reshaping the present culture of Lithuania rather than as departure points from which the Lithuanian nation-state has been created.


Keywords: Nation, Postcolonial, History, Narrative, Identity
Stream: Immigration, Refugees, Race, Nation
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Jerilyn Sambrooke

Lecturer, English Language and Literature Department, Fatih University
Istanbul, Turkey

Jerilyn Sambrooke currently is a Lecturer at Fatih University in Istanbul, Turkey. Previously, she taught English Literature at LCC International University in Klaipeda, Lithuania. Her research interests in postcolonial theory and Lithuanian literature grew out of dialogue with students and faculty in Lithuania, and her travels throughout the post-Soviet region have influenced her research significantly.

Ref: H08P0435