For the sixth
year in a row, the diaspora researchers and archivists gathered at the National
Library of Lithuania. The aim of the seminar is to bring together researchers
working in the diaspora field, especially students, to give them the
opportunity to share their research, and also to encourage the representatives
of archives and museums to introduce the Lithuanian diaspora collections housed
at their institutions to the broader audience.
The first seminar, entitled “The Young Diaspora Researchers’ Seminar,” today is known under a slightly different name, “The Interdisciplinary Diaspora Researchers’ Seminar.” Currently, the community unites about 30 researchers working in various Lithuanian universities, institutes, museums, archives, and libraries.
Six Perspectives on Diaspora
Six perspectives on diaspora were presented at the sixth event. Ina Ėmužienė, Ph.D., who just recently defended her thesis on Lithuanian radio and TV programs in the US from 1944 to 1990, presented the Lithuanian-American electronic media. In particular she talked about the Lithuanian radio programs that were active in the country in 1944-1990: their frequency, geography, and the circumstances of their establishment. The researcher presented a list of the Lithuanian-American radio programs that ran during that period, stressing that it is not final. She is still discovering new archives, related to the topic she has been researching.
On 4 November, the National Library of Lithuania hosted a discussion about Lithuania in the pages of Western media in 1990s and today; Vilnius Santara-Sviesa Club and Lituanica Department organized it.
Valdonė Budreckaitė, senior researcher at Lituanica Department, began with a virtual exhibition “No, my friends, we won‘t go slow,” dedicated to the time in history when Lithuania was fighting for its independence and its depiction in Western press. The exhibition was prepared by the Lituanica Department in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania. Gintė Damušis, a Lithuanian diplomat, who in 1979-1991 led the Lithuanian Information Centre with its offices in New York and Washington, D.C., shared memories about the dissemination of information and an important role played by the LIC in promoting Lithuania’s independence in the US and other Western countries. Vykintas Pugačiauskas, foreign news editor at the Lithuanian National Radio and Television, discussed Lithuania’s image in contemporary media. Georgia Gwinnett College professor, Dr. Dovilė Budrytė, who also currently teaches at the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University, moderated the event.
On 3 November 2015 the Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania hosted the annual international Baltic Heritage Network diaspora seminar. It was the 22nd event in the last six years and the second to be held in Vilnius. It brought together researchers, librarians and archivists from all three Baltic countries working in the field of diaspora studies. In this international forum, eight papers were presented. Topics for three paper sessions ranged from collecting, exploring and digitizing archival data to making field research of diaspora communities, and analysing exile literature.
Diaspora seminars, covering a wide range of interests and topics, are designed to help to exchange information and encourage sustained critical dialogue without dividing attendees into their disciplinary camps. New people and presenters join the BHN seminars every year. This time the event offered a good balance between three Baltic countries and a good distribution of participants from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The small-scale setting of the conference allowed for an intimate exchange of ideas. Opportunity to place one’s own research in a wider cultural context and learn about the skills and techniques used by other scholars was a significant advantage of this seminar.