Reborn Nation, Pure Generation
Citizenship, Political Participation and International NGO Life among Young Latvians

Jeppe Linnet

Seminar paper: Council of Europe Training Seminar for Young Social Scientists, Budapest, 4-9 September 2001

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Post-Soviet Latvia: the anthropology of a torn society
The NGO: dutiful citizens
Immoral inaction
Generations and the state
Generations and national history
Young Internationalists
Taking off


From July to December 2000 I did six months of anthropological fieldwork in Riga, in a youth NGO which actively supports Latvian membership of the European Union. In my research, the primary focus is on how the European Union is experienced and imagined locally, in this case by young Latvians who are actively pro-EU. They are from 17 to 24 years old, and work to inform other young people about the European Union and the good prospects for a future Latvian membership. They also take part in international cooperation with other pro-EU NGO´s around Europe, going to seminars and events in other European countries. Many members have very good language skills and a number of friends and contacts around Europe. The NGO has around 200 members in Riga and smaller sections around the country, and 20 of these members I would meet on a daily basis in the NGO.

Across the post-Soviet space, national rebirth has meant ”coming back to Europe”, and to my informants (the NGO members) this is equal to their nation being accepted by the European Union. To them, being recognized by the European Union or people who represent it is the ultimate sign that the Republic of Latvia is reborn as a modern society of Europeans. This is what they work towards achieving.

This paper looks at how these young people interpret their place in national history. I focus on two issues: their selfidentification as ”active citizens of a country in transition”, and as members of a post-Soviet generation. Both of these are central elements in their experience of political participation. I also look at a particular social division that is reproduced by this management of identity, the moral distance towards people who are not active. In this paper, this divide will be approached as a generation gap, but it could also be analyzed along ethnic or rural vs. urban lines.

My main point is to draw attention to the gap between the social and historical experience of the active young citizens I have studied, and that of other groups in Latvian society. This I will do by outlining a position, one of many possible viewpoints on Latvian society in transition; the position of the young civil society elite.

In this paper I take up ”citizenship” as a means of outlining this position. My aim concerning this concept is not to discuss it in itself as a social contract, nor to find some master definition of it that can be modelled so as to cover all empirical cases and predict those to come. I see citizenship as a term employed by my informants to explain to me the rationale behind their practice. In that perspective it becomes difficult to distinguish citizenship from ”national feeling”, which some readers might see as an unfortunate conceptual confusion. This is a consequence of the phenomenological approach: political concepts like citizenship are analyzed by seeing them as something that is appropriated, lived and felt. In the words of anthropologist Michael Jackson

“Rather than examine the epistemological status of beliefs [including the belief in citizenship] it is more important to explore their existential uses and consequences. Our emphasis is thus shifted from what beliefs “mean” intrinsically to what they are made to mean, and what they accomplish for those who invoke and use them” (Jackson 1996:7)

Thus in this paper, citizenship is something that people identify with through everyday practice, it plays into other identifications like generation and social class, affecting people´s perceptions of their past and future. In this way I aim to avoid reifying a large historical process like European integration as something so rational and powerfull and historically given that it can act by itself. I want instead to show how actors through their everyday practice actually make history happen, how they experience doing this, and how it changes them.

Post-Soviet Latvia: the anthropology of a torn society

In order to contextualize the empirical material I will present, I will first outline some perspectives that are dealt with in the social anthropology of post-Soviet Latvia. I will then present and discuss some of my own case material.

The focus in the anthropology on post-Soviet Latvia is of course on the transition; on the statebuilding, the social reforms, ethnonational identity politics and other social processes that build up a new society, but also lead to groups experiencing social suffering and exclusion. In general, the anthropology of post-Soviet Latvia has a certain sadness to it. It shows how in the course of post-Soviet independence and subsequent European integration, the categories through which people understand their own place in history and society are being pushed to the limit.

Some works (Rosengaard 1998) looks at how the Russian speaking population experience the break-up of the Soviet Union and the statebuilding of Latvia as an exclusion from everyday urban, social space. Other works (Berglund 2000), while noting the everyday segregation and unequal access to social and political life of Russians and Latvians, also point out that both groups experience the transition as a stressfull time of large reforms undertaken for very diffuse and sometimes incomprehensible reasons. Some groups are severely alienated from the post-Soviet social processes, and there is a lot of conflict among Latvians themselves concerning what “Latvian” means (Mortensen 1999, Saleniece 2000).

The only anthropological monograph published so far on post-Soviet Latvia is The Testimony of Lives: Narrative and Social Memory in post-Soviet Latvia by Vieda Skultans (1998). Skultans makes a medical anthropological study of how Latvians understand nerve illness, which shows the impact that social memories of deportation and occupation have on the older generation of Latvians. After independence, people are trying to reconnect their personal memories and life stories to public life (Skultans 1998:25). Some people, and especially the older ones, fail in doing so. As official history emphasizes a sharp and total break with the Soviet times, these people are left alone with testimonies of the past. The disrupted history of the Latvian nation thus becomes the incoherent narratives of individuals. They suffer from an alienating incapacity to form a coherent account of their personal life, its meaning and place in national history. This makes people physically ill by destroying their social being.

Skultans hits the same note of suffering, isolation and disruption that resounds through much of the anthropology on post-Soviet Latvia. But she does refer to the ability of some actors to create meaning in the face of a difficult transition and the unfulfilled promises of national independence. This is what the members of Klubs "Maja" do, and I believe that this is central to understanding the symbolic significance of their NGO activism.

The NGO: dutiful citizens

The anthropology of post-Soviet Latvia in general shows the transition as a process that leads to social fragmentation, stress and uncertainty. But although the people I studied know their society to be fragmented, stress and uncertainty is not what they tell me about. My informants are members of a generation and social group to whom the post-Soviet transition is meaningfully experienced as a pre-EU accession process. This shows not only in their words, but also in their everyday practice as NGO activists, and it might not surprise anyone, since their position in society is that of young, urban, well educated members of the national majority. But referring to their position as an ”elite” does not in itself explain the processes of interpretation through which they see and represent the transition, nor does it show the practices involved. This I will try to do.

In my interviews with the NGO members I ask them about their reasons for working actively for the European integration of Latvia. They often bring up the issue of responsibility towards their nation, and present this as a feeling of duty connected to their citizenship.

An example of this is Eva. At the time of our interview, she is participating on a summer camp organized by the NGO, and learning about the future prospects for Latvian membership of the EU. I ask her why she has joined the camp.

Eva: Because I don’t know much about the European Union, and I have had very little contact with it. But I think that it will play a very important role in the future, and as a citizen of Latvia, who will determine the future of this country, I think I should be informed about what is going to change when we are part of the union. About advantages or disadvantages, and in which place it will affect my everyday life....Because there is some responsibility, I think people should be informed so they don’t make some stupid mistake that they’ll later regret.

Eva makes an interpretation of her citizenship whereby she connects her ideals about living in a democracy to her expectations concerning a future life for the nation and herself within the European Union. The future prospect of deciding whether to enter the European Union confronts her in the present as a sense of duty, derived from her status as a citizen in a democracy. It is the duty to inform herself, to be enlightened about what is going to come and make an informed decision about it.

This sense of duty connected to the nation and citizenship also means a call to take an active part in the daily struggle of state building.

Eva: a young man around 25 said to me ‘what do you think about patriotism? Would you call yourself a patriot of Latvia?’. I actually couldn’t answer, but he said ‘I am sure that me and my colleagues, we would go and fight for Latvia if a war broke out. I simply added ‘well I as a woman wouldn’t go to fight with a gun’. But then I thought ‘what else can I do, well I can´t fight with a gun, but I can prove my love to this country in some other way’... because as far as I can see my future, I think that I will live in Latvia. I will probably study for some years abroad, but then I will definitely return here. This is my home, and therefore I feel responsible that the place where I live, is also the place where other people feel well....If you care about the things that go on around you, it makes you a person who feels responsibility somehow. Those who care only about their life, I  would say it´s a kind of selfishness.

As Evas words show, some NGO activists see themselves as people who through their actions take up the responsibility of being citizens in a newly independent country, by assisting their nationstate in entering a European space perceived as secure, predictable, rational and highly developed. Their everyday NGO work makes them able to see themselves as actors in the historical process of Latvian nation building and EU accession.

Of course NGO life should not be reduced to its function in mediating a painful past, since as everyday practice it is fun, pragmatic, peaceful and not necessarily filled with ideological or historical references. But as the interview with Eva shows, this work can readily be represented by the activists in terms connected to a history of occupation and a need for security, a need which is deeply felt while also serving as a means of NGO selfrepresentation towards donors, the media, a foreign researcher etc.

As would be clear by now, my informants position and represent themselves as active citizens of a transitional society. This shows that they have appropriated and moralized the concept of participatory citizenship as a part of their own selfrepresentation. This concept of participation is also the subject of parts of the recent report by UNICEF ”Young People in Changing Societies”, which calls it a general tendency in the whole post-Soviet region

”The period during which the transition generation has been growing up...has been a period of major changes in what citizenship means in the region....this generation is approaching adulthood in anticipation of exercizing full human rights, after following several generations who experienced a much narrower and less participatory conception of citizenship” (UNICEF 2000:105).

The UNICEF report shows, not surprisingly, that from the perspective of international organizations there is something very positive about young people who, like my informants, are able to see themselves as actors in the historical process of the transition. The report says that

”The identification of young persons with and their participation in these historical changes can help ensure the stability of the reform process. Through their participation in new democratic institutions and socio-cultural activities, young people can also help shape society and so make it into one with which they identify” (UNICEF 2000:107).

In connection to this, the report says that in Latvia in 1998, only 2.4 percent of students aged 18-25 were members of a youth organization (UNICEF 2000:110). It seems that my informants are a kind of minority then, but one with an advantageous position in society, from where they see the transition as a positive, necessary process, and look towards the future of their own society and their own life with hope. This represents exactly the ”identification of young persons with...these historical changes”  that the UNICEF report says is so important.

I believe my material shows something about what is ”inside” the concept of participatory citizenship, how it is experienced by those who represent it. When compared to the study by Skultans of the middleaged generation of Latvians, who do not experience any possibility to affect their own life, nor feel like belonging to a community where people share the same experience, it is clear that something entirely different is going on here. To these young people, the Latvian history of Soviet occupation does not become a paralyzing loss of identity, nor the isolating mistrust that older generations experience. My informants feel that they can change things through their actions, it is that NGO thing which they express simply as ”you feel that you can actually DO something”.

What they have, which some groups in society do not have, is a sense of continuity between their ideals and practices as a group, and the official post-Soviet/ pre-EU representation of history and society. Due to their position as young urban pro-EU NGO activists, Eva and my other informants are able to realize and embody the values which society connect to the concept of citizenship. They are able to do not only what they feel is right, but also what the Latvian state and the international community holds to be the ideal. This puts them in a position which a lot of Skultans´ informants fail to reach:

”Victorious narratives – in contrast to illness narratives – are characterized by symbols of belonging and recognition” (Skultans 1998:128)

It is clear however, that their network of resources, recognition and information does not connect to the Latvian state, which does not in practice do much to support NGO involvement, but to the world of international donors and organizations. This was demonstrated when the NGO was paid a visit by the British Ambassador, accompanied by the British Minister for EU Affairs who was paying a visit to Latvia. This experience caused quite a stir in the NGO, a sense of pride and accomplishment which not only expressed the satisfaction of receiving recognition for one´s work as an organization, but also the desire of many Latvians for their newly independent country to be seen and recognized internationally.

Immoral inaction

Of course like any identity, the self-identified category of ”we, the dutiful citizens” is defined in opposition to other groups. So who is the ”other” in this respect, the ”them” that defines the ”us” of the young dutiful citizens?

Eva has already given us a clue to this aspect by saying that ”If you care about the things that go on around you, it makes you a person who feels responsibility somehow. Those who care only about their life, I would say it´s a kind of selfishness”.The really immoral other is the passive one, the people that do not take part in the political processes of society. The people who don´t have an opinion, who don´t raise their voice and enter the dialogue among the citizens of a new democracy.

This division between active and inactive is not surprising, but the moral potential of it is perhaps underestimated unless one sees how it intertwines with other social divisions, like that between city and countryside or between generations. I will now take a closer look at this generation gap.

Generations and the state

As I have shown, the young NGO activists have a different social and historical experience than the old generation. What is clear to me is that they are very aware of having this different experience, and of generational differences in general.

Take as a first example Aivita, the middleaged mother of one of my Latvian friends. One day she tells me about her life. She is an artist, and during the Soviet Union she received a salary from the state that made her able to live as an artist. Now she is a teacher, and feels that independence has not brought her much good. In a bitter voice she tells me how the state is in all possible ways turned against her and her kind. There is no prestige to her job, and according to her ”the state says that teachers are stupid people”. As teachers´ wages are extremely low, she would like to start teaching art classes in the evening on a private basis. But the state maintains a bureaucratic system that makes it a slow and very expensive process for one to register a private enterprise. She refers to an existing ”open education” program between Latvia and countries like Denmark, through which she could possibly attract some funds to start up her private teaching. But then she resignates and says that the state will either try and prevent her from using this program, or the state itself will take the money that are meant for her.

In Aivitas perspective, the government has ”a very nice game going” to keep people under pressure, weak and vulnerable. This is especially done, she says, through the poverty that the state brings upon people like pensioners and teachers. I ask if she has a trade union. She says well of course, but the head of it is a woman who was also in this position during Soviet times, and she is cooperating with the system. Aivita says that if she or other teachers were to go on strike, they would be attacked by their own trade union for acting immorally by not teaching the children. If she herself were to protest in any way, this would be registered and kept on file by the system, just like it was in Soviet times. I ask if they are really maintaining this system because they want to oppress people? ”Of course!” she says, how could I believe otherwise?

The generation gap between Aivita´s social experience and that of the young civil society elite is demonstrated a few days after the above conversation. In the NGO I am talking to Anna, who is a very active girl working with human rights education of boarding school pupils. Her goal with the project is to create agency. She wants to turn people into acting humans beings that know how to use the system when their rights are violated, who are proactive in relation to the system instead of passive. Going from vision to project is a competence and an attitude lacking among the older generation, she says, due to the Soviet times. I tell her about my conversation with Aivita (of course anonymizing my source), and she nods and says

”Nobody thinks ’what can I do, how can I act, raise my voice?’ That´s how it is everywhere, including schools. People don´t believe in change, they only think that things will get worse if they try. That´s wrong, you have to take initiative and ally yourself with people who feel like you”.

Anna sees the system as something to be used and not feared. In her perspective, Aivitas fear of the system is wholly unjustified, it is a leftover from Soviet times when the system really was against you. Her fear itself is a sign that she lives in the past, that she has not understood the degree to which things have changed. And fear leads to passivity, which is immoral and egoistic.

Generations and national history

The point which I want to arrive at is that in Latvian society today, generations are a main element of the everyday historical imagination, including imagining the state. Generational awareness is a lens through which the beliefs, actions and abilities of oneself as well as other people are judged, and not just those of the older generations. I speak to a founding member of the NGO, a girl who is now around 25 years old. She is doing well as a student and as an NGO activist, but it is clear that not only did she have to learn a lot in order to achieve success, she also had to struggle to relieve herself of some of the things she had learned during her school years in Soviet times. She speaks of her nephew who is 12 years old:

”He is so clever, he speaks not only Latvian and Russian but also English. He knows about computers, which I had to learn about long after I left school. And now he wants to learn French. You know, they say that his generation are going to take us over, we will have to compete with them – and they are not affected by Soviet at all”.

As I see it, in Latvia the time when a person was born becomes a marker of relative purity. The young NGO activists feel that their democratic competence as active citizens is due to them being ”uncontaminated” by the passivity, that many Latvians have allegedly inherited from Soviet times. Generations are highly moralized dividing lines that cut through Latvian society, or at least the urban parts of it that I know.

It might in this respect be possible to talk about microgenerations which are socially constructed around a main political event, in this case national independence. I am not acquainted with the literature on the sociology of youth, so I do not know whether a concept like microgeneration exists. The reason I call them “micro” is that these generations are so close in terms of the “objective” time span between them, but in the “social time” of everyday historical imagination they are sharply defined and separated. In public discourse, the members of these microgenerations come to embody the values associated with the historical event in question. In the case of the young Latvian transitional elite, these values are national rebirth and European enlightenment. People become signs that refer to the time before or after national independence. This we have seen in the case of the young NGO elite, the ways they represent themselves and judge the things other people say and do.

I have been told many times by foreign and Latvian professionals working in Riga about the large gap, in organizational competence and democratic attitude, between people who graduated from university in the mid-eighties vs the early nineties. The issue here is not whether these professionals are right or wrong, or what could be done to change people´s attitudes, but the fact that foreigners and Latvians alike seem to share the generational element as a main reference point in their everyday historical imagination. In more agency oriented terms, everybody seems to use the generation as a taken-for-granted classification of people in the everyday naturalization of social inequalities.

Young Internationalists

A lot of resources for international cooperation and travelling are available to young pro-EU NGO activists, and have been so through the transition[1]. Thus my informants quite easily gain access to European networks where they meet other young NGO members. These are young Europeans that share a post-Soviet, post-Balkan historical experience which frames the heavy idealization of NGO´s taking place at their international meetings. NGO´s are presented as being equal to civil society, and civil society is seen as that which did not exist in the Soviet Union, and as a means to avoid violent wars like those that broke up Yugoslavia.

In this way, being a young active Latvian NGO activist is a social experience which takes place in many other localities than Latvia. Thus their generational identification lines extend far beyond nation state boundaries. Being ”the first generation to grow up in Europe” is a feeling shared among youth from the whole post-Soviet region, and the experience of being both similar to and different from other East European youth is something very meaningful to those of my Latvian informants who are involved in international NGO cooperation.

These generational networks also extends beyond the East European space marked by the fall of the wall. Taking part in these European youth networks, my informants learn things that are very valuable, and which sets them apart from other groups in Latvian society. They learn how to organize and present themselves as NGO activists, and the ability to do this gives them access to many benefits, like reimbursements of travelling to international seminars and political events, or increased chances of success when applying for jobs. They also continously appropriate international concepts like ”NGO” and translate them back into local Latvian meanings and practices. This exemplifies the way Steven Sampson defines the transition:

”the transition is not simply the flow of resources, but also the export of models, that is, of representations....the transition is a social space in which various resources  - material, organizational, human, symbolic – are manipulated and reconstituted by a variety of actors in an organizational setting of global character” (Sampson 1996:122)

What happens is that they become members of an international, political youth culture based primarily on the NGO concept. Here they learn how to navigate a complex field of identifications, where being ”young” and being ”NGO” are the most constant markers of identity.

It is my general observation that during most of the interaction at NGO meetings, similarities between participants are underlined. People will mainly present themselves in terms of NGO membership, which is something shared by all, and although they work in different fields, most NGO work is presented in terms that refer to Balkan and post-Soviet political processes. Much informal interaction is filled with references that are shared, like student life or music and films from popular European youth culture.

But within this sharedness people also recurringly refer to national differences, in ways which sometimes seems a bit forced. An example of this is the “International Evening”, the standard ritual of “getting acquainted with each other” used at European NGO gettogethers. This I have observed and participated in several times (and I will again during the seminar that this paper is written for), and I will give an example:

At a meeting in Latvia for the Young European Federalists organized by Klubs "Maja", I was the only Dane there, and I was to represent Denmark. The other participants were more experienced in this kind of event than I, so they had all brought food and drinks and prepared songs and dances that they used in a fun and routined performance of their nationality. But I had not, and in a desperat search for something Danish, I suddenly found myself on the floor singing the Danish national anthem while seated in a position supposed to look like the Little Mermaid. It was all sort of ridiculous but also great fun, and something more than fun was happening: to my surprise, I truly felt a desire to “perform Denmark”, and I regretted not having prepared for this. The ritual was working, having a nationalizing effect that required an international setting. Half an hour later, the event was over and people were released from being national. Back came the everyday flow of constantly switching between emphasizing difference and sameness at multiple levels of style, gender, social status, cultural references etc.

The point I want to make is that through their NGO work, my informants become part of networks where many different competences are learned. They learn how to organize according to our ideals about civil society, and they become good performers, since through rituals like the “European evening” they learn how to be national and international at the same time. The aspect of inter-nationality is interesting because it points to what Michael Billig calls a universal code of particularity, the fact that any expression of national particularity implies and requires a universality, “a nation in a world of nations” (Billig 1994:74). This code is something that the NGO activists internalize and learn to perform. But at a more general level, what the NGO activists learn is how to perform being different and similar in many ways, simultaneously. They learn ways of collective and individual selfpresentation which includes switching effortlessly between identifications like nationality, citizenship, ethnicity, gender, social class etc, appropriating or ignoring these situationally depending on the performance intended.

The highly valuable competence at the core of all this is the ability to refer to political and social structures through the details of one´s situational behaviour. The performative competence learned through NGO activity thus exemplifies Connertons observation that political ideology must be understood not as discursive or rhetorical texts, but as embodied knowledge about the small aesthetic details of behaviour, ”a concrete manner of attending to the arrangements of society” (Connerton 1989:11).

This competence, in Bourdieu´s terms a habitus, is worth something when it is taken back to Riga and used in one´s personal positioning within urban networks. It is a young European style that can open doors to jobs, grants and more international experiences. In my perspective, this once more underlines the gap between the young NGO elite and those groups in society who do not have access to international networks and resources, like the older generation and people in the countryside. 

Taking off

I want to remark on one last thing in connection to young Latvian NGO activists and their international networks. This is the tendency for these young people to embark upon an NGO career that leads them to “take off” and enter an international lifestyle wholly detached from the social problems of Latvia that through their work they initially aimed to address. This is a problematic development common to the whole upper strata of Latvian society, as noted in the UNDP Latvia Report 1999:

“Latvia has a growing circle of people whose professional and personal contacts reach beyond Latvia´a borders…By becoming involved in international contacts and communities, these people acquire new knowledge and experience, and usually, they also improve their material situation and raise their status in Latvian society…[However] internationalization can also cause people to become alienated from Latvian society; this process affects those who do not nurture ties of solidarity” (UNDP 2000:18)

This process shows in the recent development of Klubs "Maja", which is today turning its attention away from its previous work in the countryside and towards international networks. The NGO is becoming more urban and more professional, and is now aiming at attracting new members at university instead of high schools, members who can participate in NGO work at an international level.

The lack of ties of solidarity that the UNDP points out becomes clear in the case of Baiba, who has a high position in the NGO. In my interview with her, she describes herself as a person that “loves everything international”, and she talks a lot about all the travelling that she does. She says she can not stand being in the countryside for more than a short time. However, she often goes abroad as a representative of Latvia and the NGO, being an experienced NGO representative as well as an able performer of Latvian folk dance. Baiba knows how to navigate the different levels of representation that exist within international youth culture. This gives her access to resources that present themselves as very valuable in a Latvian youth context: money, which she receives in the form of grants and travel reimbursements, and an image as a cosmopolitan European.

Bearing in mind that Klubs "Maja" works for Latvian membership of the European Union, I think it would be fair to say that during the ten years of transition, people like Baiba and their urban networks have already entered the European Union, while many old and rural Latvians probably never will.


The young Latvian NGO activists of Klubs "Maja" have taken up political activism for reasons of a personal desire to learn and experience new things, but also from a feeling of commitment to building a Latvian state and society. This shows in the interview in the beginning of this paper, where Eva tells about her wish to act as a young, dutiful Latvian citizen, which she ties to her feelings concerning national history. She and other NGO activists have a deeply felt goal to contribute to Latvian society achieving social and ethnic as well as European integration. To them, citizenship becomes a personal interface with national destiny. It connects them to the historical process of ”coming back to Europe”, and it gives them an image of political purity and European enlightenment that they identify with as a generation. This is clearly a very valuable experience, which is withheld from other groups, some of whom are not able to connect their own stories to national history and the public sphere. In other words, in the post-Soviet flow of political concepts and economical aid, a field of exchange arises where historical meaning becomes a resource that my informants are in a position to seize upon. Their NGO activism puts them in the position of the young civil society elite, from where they appropriate national history as an active, meaningful dimension of everyday life. National destiny becomes personally meaningful to them because, as a social structure, they themselves actualize and reproduce it through the agency of political activism, making their agency and national history integral to one another.

However, they appropriate more than feelings and meanings. Their political activism draws some of them ever deeper into networks that connect local NGO-life in Riga to European youth NGO´s. Thus the competences they achieve and the networks they build changes their outlook on themselves and the rest of society. To themselves, this is an experience of personal growth and recognition. Others will call it a process of NGO professionalization, and as we have seen, some warn that it can lead to a severing of ties of solidarity. I have tried to take up a phenomenological perspective on this, seeing the transition as a process of economical and political exchange in which young Latvians realize their intentions, desires and values through the NGO concept. Hereby they connect to international networks, build up a civil society in Latvia, but also create new social divisions and invest existing ones with new meaning.


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1. NGO activism can therefore also be described in terms of exchange, and one can question the interrelation between ideological commitment and selfinterested strategies. I work with these questions in a forthcoming article.

Jeppe Linnet: ”An Everyday Moral Economy: NGO Activism Among Young Latvians” (working title) in Thomas Borén and Karl-Olov Arnstberg (eds.) The Everyday Economy of Russia, Poland and the Baltic States (working title, forthcoming). The Swans Research Group, Södertörns Högskola, Stockholm.