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Remembering Independence, Desiring Enemies: Reflections on Nationhood in Contemporary Lithuania

Author(s): Ignas Kalpokas

Journal: Studies of Transition States and Societies
ISSN 1736-874X

Volume: 4;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 16;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: Lithuania | independence | memory | grand narratives | textbooks.

The paper addresses the remembrance of events surrounding the restoration of Lithuanian independence, as well as their repercussions on the present, concentrating on the younger generation that does not have first-hand experience of the period and, therefore, has to rely on other people’s accounts, textbooks, and other sources.If one considers the state and, especially, its social (or communal) dimension as impossible totalities, memory and history acquire significant importance as they both provide ‘a magma of significations’, out of which particular signifying structures are instituted in order to anchor meaning and exhort a unifying claim through dominant narratives that tend to subjugate the otherwise inevitable variety of discourses. The discourse of the Lithuanian history textbooks is analysed by outlining its emphasis on unity and self-sacrifice in 1988-1991, and by portraying the Lithuanian history as an unending struggle against enemies and their malevolent plots. Also, considering the accounts of young people, two tendencies are visible: first, a bias towards images of unity and self-sacrifice depicting the period concerned, second, the predilection to employ the categories of ‘aliens’ and ‘enemies’ is evident, significantly affecting perceptions of the present with widespread images of disintegration and decay in the absence of the Other.
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