Identity, memory, temporality and discourse: the evolving discursive positions of Latvia's Russian-speakers

Cheskin, Ammon Matthias (2013) Identity, memory, temporality and discourse: the evolving discursive positions of Latvia's Russian-speakers. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

This thesis examines how discourses are utilised by media and political elites to construct, propagate, and alter national and ethnic identities. It uses Latvia as a case study, focusing on the construction of ‘Russian-speaking’ identity from the late Soviet period to the present. A central aim of this research is to study how discursive constructions of identity are created, and to what extent media and politicians are able to influence such constructions. In order to meaningfully assess the extent of multiple influences over discursive production and consumption this research employs a triangulated approach, using data from focus groups, elite interviews with Latvian politicians, survey data, and discourse analysis of the Latvian press. This has allowed for a fuller examination and assessment of top-down and bottom-up influences and pressures on identity creation and how these are interrelated. Previously conducted research on ethnopolitical identities in Latvia has revealed how collective memories, interpretations of the Soviet past, post-Soviet state-building policies, and issues surrounding language usage are all heavily politicised and used to demarcate the boundaries between the ‘core nation’ (Latvians) on the one hand, and ‘Russian-speakers’ on the other. Accordingly, this research explores how the constructions of these positions are negotiated, propagated, intensified, or mitigated through discursive practices, as manifested in media, political, or personal discourses. This research is concerned with the temporally contingent nature of discourses and as such, considers multiple eras, rather than a single de-contextualised and static time period, to investigate how discourses have evolved in the Latvian context. By comparing discursive productions from the late Soviet period with those of the present, it has been possible to examine how certain discursive positions have become meaningfully embedded within popularly conceived notions of identity. It has also facilitated a study of discursive strategies by people who attempt to represent Russian-speakers in the media and political spaces. This research argues that discourses are firmly rooted in the past, even if their contemporary form differs greatly from that of the past.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Latvia, Russian Speakers, Minority Integration, Discourse Analysis, Identity, Nationalism, State Building, Nation Building, Discourse Theory, Baltic States, Russia, Temporality
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Central and East European Studies
Funder's Name: UNSPECIFIED
Supervisor's Name: Swain, Prof. Geoffrey
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Dr Ammon Cheskin
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-4020
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2013 11:25
Last Modified: 31 May 2016 15:30
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/4020

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