Oral History and Biographies as Resources for Local and Cross-cultural Studies

  Acquirements of Baltic-Nordic cooperation

  Individual life stories build bridges across different cultures and indicate a way of writing a participatory and democratic history. Collaboration between Baltic -Nordic scholars has achieved results, testifying value of the OH approaches and methodologies.

Research and education at the University of Latvia and University of Tartu, in Estonia, can greatly benefit from specialists of the Nordic countries who have a longer experience of the using oral history in cultural and historical studies.

The main acquirements of the project:

* Exchange of recent experiences in the gathering and interpretation of data research methodology, and methods of result presentation
* Establish the framework for a collection of oral sources and research of the Latvian communities in Sweden and Norway
* Promoting learning opportunities for Latvian students in qualitative research methodology from the Nordic scholars

Partners share a common interest in the cultural and social history of the individual and communities which is represented in life stories and reveals itself through qualitative methods of research. Previous seminars and established contacts have resulted in widening circles of participants.

This cooperation builds on a tradition begun in the beginning of the 20th century, when the Latvian Folklore and Ethnographic archives were founded, incorporating the experience of Nordic researchers (The method of K. Krohn, one of the shapers of the Finnish folklore collection, was also used in the Latvian Folklore collection). Skansens model of the museum in Stockholm was also used as a model for the Ethnographic outdoor museum in Riga. Researchers in Latvia also benefited from the nineteenth-century Nordic collectors of folklore and ethnographic data.

Keynot lecture Ronald J.Grele ( Columbia University, USA)

Presentation of Edmunds Shupulis ( Latvia). Problems of verbalizing urbanism in life stories

Click here for the program
Oral History Research in the Northern European Context
November 15-17, 2006 Helsinki

Information and guidelines on Nordplus Neighbour project "Local and Cross-Cultural Studies through the Life Stories " guidelines
1. Seminar in 8 - 10.10.05 took place in Tartu War - as destruction of Local community and individual life's trajectories
2. Seminar in Riga, Institute Philosophy and Sociology of Latvia University in Riga, January 20 - 23, 2006.

Latvian Academy of Sciences, Akademijas lauk. 1., coordination 5 floor 509
and sessions
9 floor 905: DOMES ZALE
20.01. 05. 14.00
Envirioment and OH
Simo Laakkonen (University of Helsinki)
The closed seaside? Socio-environmental closing and opening of the Latvian coast
Dace Bula (Archives of Latvian Folklore, Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art, University of Latvia)
The Study of a Suburban Fishing Community in Riga
Edmunds Supulis (Institute of Philosophy and Sociology, University of Latvia) Industrialization of the sea: a view through oral history
Elina Makkonen (University of Joensu)
Folklore studies; Oral History of the University of Joensu
Jyrki Pöysä (University of Joensu)
The written human space. Interpreting the local stories about meaningful places in the Joensu city area

9 floor 905: DOMES ZALE
10.30 in 21.01.05
From Memory to Presentation

Baiba Bela-Krumina (University of Latvia)
Transcription as translation: challenge to create literary text from oral narrative
Rutt Hinrikus (Tartu)
Who is visible in printed life history
Kirsti Salmi-Niklander (University of Helsinki)
Challenges and compromises : Problems of editing, analysis and ethics in the research based on local history and tradition
Tiiu Jaago (University of Tartu)
How to use the stories connected with concrete
persons? The question of the cultural norms and researchers ethic
Kristel Lelumees (University of Tartu)
Local identity in life-stories and the situation of the interview.
Liina Paales (University of Tartu)
Deaf people, Sign Language and Deafness in Estonian Life Stories. How to present Sign Language text?
Maruta Pranka, Mara Zirnite (University of Latvia)
Latvian Life Stories publication review
Outi Fingerroos (University of Turku)
My Research and oral history – some methodological views
s Maili Pilt (University of Tartu)
Fieldwork methods in Internet forums: The Birthday tradition as one aspect of Life Stories
23.01. 10.00 – 13.00
Agreement for the next period: 2006 - 2007 of the project.
Nordic countries cooperation with Baltic states and N-W Russia

  The Nordic Grant Scheme for Network Co-operation with the Baltic Countries and Northwest Russia 2003/2004 Personal and cross-cultural identities in every-day life stories – Development of research and presentation methods
The international network with the support of Nordic Council
The visits to academic institutions and other research and cultural organizations provided an opportunity to compare not only the way in which work is organized in similar types of institutions in Latvia and the Nordic countries, but also to learn about research, collection of materials, organization, analysis etc.

The archive of the Nordiska Museet in Stockholm (Sweden) ( Foto) and the Emigration Museum in Hamar (Norway) (Video 5.4MB) deserve special mention. The in-depth excursion and seminars provided detailed information about their collected materials. They demonstrated their experience with key methodological approaches, data gathering, preservation, analytical and other topics. Learning about different studies provided inspiration for ideas in developing similar projects in Latvia. In total, more than fifteen museum and research institutions were visited in Norden countries.
Seminars conducted in Riga by Nordic scholars inspired a new specialization in oral history and biographical research for researchers as well as students at the University of Latvia.
The partners we invited to join our project represented oral history researchers in the Nordic countries:
Dr. Simo Laakkonen, Senior Lecturer of Department of Social Policy, University of Helsinki
Dr. Knut Djupedal, Director of the Norwegian Emigrant Museum in Hamar
Dr. Christian Richette, archivist at Nordiska Museet in Stockholm

Dr. Simo Laakkonen at the presentation „People and the Sea” in Riga

The Research Center at the Norwegian Emigrant Museum: Personal Archives

Dr. Knut Djupedal and Latvian researchers in the Norwegian Emigrant Museum

Outdoor exposition at the Norwegian Emigrant Museim.

Partners from Norway and Latvia in front of Norwegian Emigration Memorial Church ( the Oak RidgeChurch) reassembled at 2003

The presentation of Dr. Christian Richette at the seminar in Riga

In Memoriam: HUGO LEGZDIӐ the last commander of the submarine Ronis

Hugo Legzdi󮪠was born on December 7, 1903. In 1926, he joined the Latvian submarine division and participated in the christening of the submarine Ronis (The Seal) in France. In 1938, he completed his studies at the French Maritime Academy. In 1940, he became the last commander of the submarine Ronis. In 1941, the Soviet occupation regime took over the submarines and dismissed Hugo Legzdi󮟦rom his post, but thereafter and for all of his active life he taught aspiring sailors astronomy and navigation.
Hugo Legzdins died on July 20, 2004.

  M.Zirn. Livonian Life-story - source of Identity. Lives, Histories and Identities , Tartu, University of Tartu, Estonian Literary Museum, 2002, I, pp. 38-56