Russia as a Significant Other in Latvian Regional Museums: New Mental Borders and Cultural Exclusion


National Identity Spatial Identity Mental Border Constructivism Discourse Analysis Museums Latvia Russia USSR Significant Other

How to Cite

1. Zhirnova L. Russia as a Significant Other in Latvian Regional Museums: New Mental Borders and Cultural Exclusion // Journal of Frontier Studies. 2022. № 2 (7). C. 61-76.


The collapse of the Soviet Union brought about a massive redefining of borders, formal as well as mental. Latvia was among those countries that needed to reshape their identity, and its elite opted for distancing the country from Russia and the Soviet past. The article studies how this approach is reflected in 32 local history museums around Latvia. Many of their collections were formed in the Soviet times, and now museums have to redescribe them in accordance with the new ideological framework of “two occupations”. The study presents an initial classification of museums according to their scope. The article highlights the underrepresentation of the Russian language in the texts of exhibitions despite a considerable share of the Russian-speaking population. The main connotations with Russia are singled out, the most emotional of them being the narrative of the “Soviet occupation” and deportations, that was excluded from the public discourse in the Soviet times, and now is re-actualized. Three strategies of dealing with the Soviet past within the framework of museums are described: leaving Soviet items without a consistent narrative, pushing this topic to the margins of the exhibition and rewriting the Soviet discourse in complete accordance with the new ideological framework.


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