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Study Trip to Riga from 30 September - 4 October 2013

Nation State Founding and Heroic Figures

Joint Workshop Organized by the Vladimir Admoni Graduate School for the Baltic States and the University of Freiburg (German Department and SFB 948)

From 30 September to 4 October 2013 a group of doctoral students of the IGK traveled to the Latvian capital Riga for a joint workshop with the Admoni Graduate School. Together with students from the University of Latvia's German Department, the members of the IGK, in lectures, presentations and discussions, explored the connection between nation state building and heroic figures. The thematic variety in the contributions included the mythical Latvian national hero Lāčplēsis (Bear-Slayer); Rainis, the national poet of Latvia; German mythology by Friedrich Wolters; myth reception in Richard Wagner; and current Latvian politics. Hero figurations and heroizations strategies as socio-cultural processes formed the focal point of the discussions. As part of the workshop the participants visited notable memorials in Riga, including the Freedom Monument and the Brethren Cemetery where culmination points of heroization as well as the political exploitation and the varied history of heroic figures is physically and visually tangible.

The group was especially fascinated by Latvia, a young nation state that has started anew again and again to construct and debate its heroic figures. Current political developments lead to the construction of myths and heroes that reflect the needs of a society. This is very apparent in Riga.

Vista of Riga
View of Riga with the new National Library in the background on the right. (Photo: A.-C. Bolay)

Freedom Memorial
Freedom Memorial (Photo: R. von den Hoff)
Lacplesis on the Parliament Building
Bear-Slayer ("Lacplesis") on the Parliament Building (Photo: R. von den Hoff)
Lacplesis Variation
Lacplesis Variation (Photo: A.-C. Bolay)
Rainis Memorial
Rainis Memorial (Photo: A.-C. Bolay)

Workshop Uni Riga
Workshop (Photo: C. Hadamitzky)

Brethren Cemetery
At the Brethren Cemetery (Photo: A.-C. Bolay)

Art Nouveau
Art nouveau in Riga (Photo: A.-C. Bolay)