POLIPHONY OF LATVIAN IDENTITY: THE LATVIAN COMMUNITY IN SWEDEN
For Latvians as a small nation, concerns about survival of their identity become topical from time to time. A relevant question is how do World War II refugees and their descendants perceive their Latvian identity? The author analyses only one Latvian community and one generation living in Europe by viewing various aspects of ethnic identity in the life-stories of the older generation of Latvians living in Sweden. The central issue is ethnic origin as a collective frame that is filled with diverse content. Research methods are the use of oral history and the biographical approach of sociology. First, the meaning of the identity concept and traditional studies of ethnic identity in sociology is addressed; then attention is devoted to analysis of Latvian identity as presented in life-stories. The material for this study consists of more than 20 life-stories which were recorded during a study trip to Stockholm, Sweden, in 1996, as part of the National Oral History Project. In April 2007, during another trip, four life-stories were continued, and three interviews were held with children or grandchildren of the story tellers; a Latvian Saturday School in Stockholm was visited. Analysis of the experience in exile shows that the feeling of Latvian identity is flexible, diverse and changing.
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