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Pride of Place: Interethnic Relations and Urban Space in Riga 1918-1939

Brode, Adam M. (2020) Pride of Place: Interethnic Relations and Urban Space in Riga 1918-1939. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation examines the physical and symbolic transformation of the city of Riga, Latvia during the period 1918-1940. The creation of an independent Latvian state triggered processes of ethnic reversal in politics, economics, culture, and civil society that manifested themselves in and through urban public spaces in the capital of the new Republic of Latvia. What was already a profoundly multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan Northern European trading city in 1914 was “given a Latvian face” by national activists over the course of two decades. This process was shaped by, and often contested between, the ethnic Latvian majority and the city’s ethnic minority populations, with urban spaces figuring prominently in the political discourse of the period as bargaining chips and symbolic battlefields. The dissertation engages with questions of spatial belonging, collective memory, and urban ethnicity that remain crucial in contemporary Europe. The dissertation argues that rather than merely being an arena in which an already-achieved ethnic coup belatedly manifested itself, the unique historical and ethno-symbolic qualities of various prominent urban spaces in Riga dictated the course taken by the decades-long process of ethnic reversal. In analyzing the role of spaces and their attendant institutions in shaping interethnic relations in interwar Riga, the dissertation also highlights the persistence of pre-WWI traditions of peaceful cultural competition (in theater, architecture, and city government) into the interwar period. This illustrates the extent to which the new national states of 1918 disrupted previously developed paradigms for ethnic coexistence, ones which took multi-ethnicity as a permanent state of affairs. In focusing on the role of urban spaces in shaping new ethnic hierarchies, the dissertation both illuminates the functional mechanics of ethnic reversal in East Central Europe after the First World War and highlights previously understudied instances of interethnic cooperation, presenting a more nuanced picture that complicates more simplistic narratives of ethnic antagonism in the interwar period.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Brode, Adam M.amb308@pitt.eduamb308
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairThum, Gregorthum@pitt.eduthum
Committee MemberArmstrong, Christophercda68@pitt.educda68
Committee MemberLivezeanu, Irinairinal@pitt.eduirinal
Committee MemberChase, Williamwchase@pitt.eduwchase
Date: 16 January 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 September 2019
Approval Date: 16 January 2020
Submission Date: 25 November 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 420
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Interethnic Relations, Baltic, Urban Space, East Central Europe
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2020 17:30
Last Modified: 16 Jan 2020 17:30

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