The Latvian nation - A study in the geography of political integration

Smith, Graham Edward (1978) The Latvian nation - A study in the geography of political integration. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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In the past Political Geography has been pre-occupied with the state and spatial structures and processes emanating from this conventional territorial delimitation. As a consequence, the nation has been rarely examined in its own right. This thesis is a contribution toward rectifying this state of affairs by attempting to develop a spatial explanation of the Latvian nation. It is hoped that it will demonstrate what Geography can add to the already abundant literature on the nation and nationalism. It is suggested that a methodology should be developed from which a spatial explanation can contribute toward a valid perspective on a topic which in general has often been misunderstood within social thought. The nation is a subjective and emotive phenomenon and has to be viewed as a product of specific societal and geographical circumstances which can be identified and analysed. It is postulated that by treating the nation as part of a political integrative process functioning within a given polity and a given level of historical development, its raison d'etre can be more clearly understood. The factors which explain its existence are thus the integrative processes working for an identity with such a group phenomenon. The Latvian nation is accordingly treated in its spatial and temporal totality by isolating and studying the integrative processes which explain such a community. Within this integrative framework, two important aspects are incorporated into the methodology; firstly, the concept of modernisation and the processes emanating from it, and secondly, the particular political structure of which the nation forms a part. It is postulated that the use of the concept of modernisation adds a spatial perspective to the study of the nation and facilitates the identification of integrative factors which help to explain the development of such a group. Modernisation with its concomitant processes of urbanisation, industrial growth, greater social and geographical mobility, etc., is a pre-requisite for the formation of the Latvian nation and as these processes develop within the Latvian region the nation progresses from merely a social phenomenon to a political movement with tailored territorial and political aspirations. The second aspect, that of changing polities suggests that in the Latvian case where the nation is formed within the framework of the Tsarist Empire, attains independence in the form of a state of its own (1920-1940), and is subsequently absorbed into the Soviet Union, that the policies pursued by the various central authorities will to a large degree determine the form taken by integration at the national level. Thus from these three polities, spatial re-organisations occur which are in themselves contributors toward the role the nation plays within Latvian society. Modernisation is an on-going process. Within the contemporary period, it continues to play a part in the integrative process at the national level even although it is deliberately used by Moscow to weaken national identity and to destroy nationalism. Modernisation does not necessarily destroy the nation even although it weakens its social boundaries by further facilitating inter-actions, assimilations, and social communication between various communities. It is suggested that in the Latvian case modernisation contributes toward enhancing national integration rather than inhibiting it and that this process has reinforced a need to identify with an abstract ideal, the nation. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Baltic studies, Slavic studies
Date of Award: 1978
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1978-72264
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 24 May 2019 15:12
Last Modified: 24 May 2019 15:12

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