Thirteen international scholars assess the profound impact of Soviet-era movements to study, apply, and perform folklore as a priority in socialist policy-formation and culture-building. Representing generations who lived through and after Soviet occupation, they reflect on the consequences of state-supported promotion of folk arts in a region called the Western Borderlands that include Baltic countries, Ukraine, Poland, Slovakia, Belarus, Romania, and Hungary. In their incisive analyses, authors present original archival materials as well as ethnographic data to understand colonialist support for bottom-up folklore movements and resistance to them. Capping the volume is a timely consideration of Soviet orchestration of folkloristic work on present developments in conflicts of Russia with its neighbors and alignments with Western folkloristics and ethnology.
Toms Ķencis is lead researcher and Head of the Scientific Council at the University of Latvia Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art.
Simon J. Bronner is dean of the College of General Studies and distinguished professor of social sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Elo-Hanna Seljamaa is associate professor of Estonian and Comparative Folklore at the University of Tartu, Estonia.
Introduction: The Analytics of 'Socialist in Form, National in Content' in the Soviet Western Borderlands
Part I. An Inherent Paradox: National Form and Socialist Content
Chapter 1. Folklore and Nationalism in the Soviet Western Borderlands
Chapter 2. Bringing the Folk Community into the Future: On the Socialist Content of Communist Folkloristics
Joseph Grim Feinberg
Chapter 3. The Lithuanian Folklore Movement and Academe: Transforming Rural Tradition
Part II. Multivocal Socialism: Agents and Agendas
Chapter 4. Being in Between: Laine Mesikäpp and Staged Practices of Estonian Traditional Songs
Chapter 5. Ideological Tuning of Latvian Folk Ornament
Chapter 6. The Dievturi Movement under the Soviet Regime
Part III. Folk and the People: Education and Control
Chapter 7. On Self-Folklorization: Folk Art in Late Socialist Era Poland
Chapter 8. Folkloristics in Moldova: Relations between Discipline and Performance
Jennifer R. Cash
Chapter 9. The Influence of Soviet Authority on the Formation of Latvian Staged Folk Dance
Part IV. Post-war Academia: Sovietization of the Discipline
Chapter 10 New Songs for a New Life: Soviet Folklore and Folkloristics in Western Ukraine
Pavlo Artymyshyn and Roman Holyk
Chapter 11. Confronting Soviet Colonialism: Folkloristics in Early Soviet Estonia and East Germany
Chapter 12. The Search for Workers’ Folklore in Hungary
Afterword: Ghosts of Socialist Folkloristics in the Post-Soviet World
Simon J. Bronner
About the Contributors
"This book is a comprehensive introduction to the history of folkloristics and ethnology in Europe behind the Iron Curtain – on the Western fringes of the Communist empire, once ruled from Moscow. It offers a close and critical analysis of research traditions in the countries, ranging from the Baltic states to Central Europe and Ukraine – all affected by Marxist-Leninist ideology. As a work on folklore, politics, and nationalism, on resilience and submissiveness, it is also a systematic study of Soviet colonialism and a critical reflection of its legacies today."
This wonderful book shows you what was hidden behind the Soviet Iron Curtain – a world not easy to fathom in its complexity of intention, control, and resistance. The editors and contributing authors make it not only fathomable but challenge a homogenous perception by engaging with the diversity of the phenomenon. A must-read as the explorations also reflect on contemporary reality.