Undergraduate Catherine Gibson wins Carnegie Vacation Scholarship 2013
May 4, 2013 Leave a comment
Fourth-year undergraduate Catherine Gibson has been awarded a Carnegie Vacation Scholarship for 2013.
Catherine’s award is for a six-week research project, under the supervision of Dr Tomasz Kamusella, provisionally entitled ‘Latgalian Language Politics: a study of ethnoregional identity in eastern Latvia’. The project will explore the development and consolidation of a Latgalian ethnoregional identity in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, in what is now eastern Latvia in the nineteenth and twentieth century. It will involve a comparative study of the shifting “top-down” language policies regarding the Latgalian language (as administered by the Russian Empire, the German WWI occupation, the interwar Latvian Republic, the Soviets and the Nazi occupations in WWII, the Soviet Union, the post-1991 Latvian government, and since 2004, the European Union), alongside the “grassroots” Latgalian “national awakening” movement in the nineteenth century, and local initiatives which preserved and developed the Latgalian language throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first century. Catherine’s grant from the Carnegie trust will enable her to conduct research in national and regional archives in Riga and Daugavpils.
This project will contribute to existing English-language scholarship in three ways. Firstly, Latvian language policy today is dominated by polemic over the status of the Russian language, currently spoken by one third of the population as their mother tongue. This project will show how the Latgalian language also continues to be a point of political contention. Secondly, Latgale is a borderland region of Latvia, often neglected in Latvian scholarship, and by extension, even more so in the West. There are very few academics working in this field outside Central and Eastern Europe, and very few articles, let alone monographs, on modern Latgale in major European languages. Finally, this study would add to the emerging field of transnational history and comparative studies of multi-ethnic and borderland regions, and contribute to wider debates of European minorities, stateless peoples, and language rights.