A Folklorist in the Soviet Spotlight

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Abstract

The article seeks to illuminate the ideologically motivated circumstances of Latvian folklore studies during the period of unconditional Soviet totalitarianism. With the strengthening of the Soviet occupation regime in Latvia in the late 1940s, many interwar folklorists became victims of ideologically motivated disdain and subsequent career limitation. ‘Bourgeois’ scholarship and the methods applied in folklore studies during the interwar period were denounced and recognised as harmful to the new Soviet order. The central part of the article presents a case study of one individual folklorist of the time, Anna Bērzkalne (1891–1956). Both increasing criticism of Bērzkalne’s folklore research approach (the historical–geographical method) and her efforts to accommodate the requirements of the Soviet regime have been analysed.

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