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Doctoral Dissertation Announcement
Candidate: Irene Elksnis Geisler
Doctor of Philosophy
Title: The Gendered Plight of Terror: Annexation and Exile in Latvia 1940-1950
Dr. Marion Gray, Chair
Dr. John Norman
Dr. Eli Rubin
Dr. Andrejs Plakans
Date: Wednesday, May 11, 2011 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
4154 Freeman Hall
Drawing on methodologies employed in Oral History and Memory scholarship, this qualitative study utilizes the lens of gender to explore narratives contesting time-honored notions of violence, war and peace. It examines Latvia’s history through the voices of women from 1940 to 1950. This project seeks to interpret Latvian history based on the experiences of those who survived invasion, exile and deportation. It positions the narratives of women at the center rather than at the margins of historical analysis. The project analyzes themes central to women’s social roles in order to attain a more complete understanding of war, exile and people’s relationship to national identities focusing on three interconnected analytical topics: 1) Latvian ethnic nationalism and gender relations; 2) women’s empowerment and subordination in war; and 3) methods of coping and resistance. This study finds that the narrators’ perceptions, understanding and experiences of this historical period were a product of their gender roles, as well as their age, social status and personal individuality. Women’s narratives and memories reveal the centrality of gender in the construction of Latvian national identity.