Spaces of Identity - Part 2

posted by usha on 2005/06/27 09:44

[ Spaces of Identity ]

I use the topic that originally was simply meant to announce the issues of the online journal "Spaces of Identity" to post some reflections on 'identity', 'nationality/-ism' and similar subjects.

Two different concepts of Spaces of Identity have recently been presented by Baltic bloggers: All about Latvia has started a fine series about Nationalism in Latvia which is concerned with the concept of Latvian Latvians and Non-Latvian (mostly: Russian) Latvians. There are even two different words for being Latvian. Although the article on the historical foundations of nationalism in Latvia tries to offer some explanation on the not only differentiating but also discriminating effect of those symbolic diversification, sentences like "Troughout their history, Latvians have been under the yoke of foreign powers" could be said about a lot of "nations" without much power of explanation transgressing a simple "Ruler-Slave"-Relationship.

Fatal is nevertheless what Aleks reports about "Nationalism within EU":

The EU was the driving force behind the liberalization of the Latvian pro-nationalist laws: the citizenship law and the language law. [...]
Yet, post-occupation Latvian nationalism will continue to be at play against the European Union pragmatic approach to questions of ethnicity and nationalism. Created to prevent more wars on the continent, the EU [...] shies away from nationalism. Instead, it opts out for mutual cooperation and unity in diversity. The latter is becoming a European motto in the EU Constitution draft.
Thus, the powers the EU first enforced have to be retained later. Yet, where the limit of "good nationalism" exceeded and when emerges "bad nationalism"?

A less politically significant Space of Identity is presented by Hello Estonia, a blog on life in Estonia. For some obscure reason (maybe for an introduction into Jaani päev?) the full article of Ahto Kaasik on the Estonian "Native Religion" has been posted there on June 22, 2005. The article is clearly meant to proselitise readers to this native religion and to create a powerful Space of Identity at the same time:

The Estonian native religion is the only native nature worship in Estonia. It was never created, it has arisen and changed in this country together with maarahvas (1)(Estonians) during innumerable generations. Estonia has been inhabited for about 10000 years. Maarahvas and their religion are considered just as old.
Being an inseparable entity together with our land, traditional culture and aboriginal languages, its something more than a religion. It is a consistent worldview, tradition and way of life, which in this form exists only here, in Estonia.
Later in this introduction the rhetoric of argumentation - ancient roots, true and healthy, holistic culture/religion, language roots etc. - is opposed to Christianity as the imperial religion brutally imposed on Estonians by foreign rulers.

Thus, this "back to the roots" movement uses the though simple, yet quite effective strategies of territorially rooted identity. Indeed, in this way culture and/or religion is the whole way of life. On the construction and history of the so-called "Heathens", see vindland.org; see also estonica.org and the collection of links by the Herder Institute.


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