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An overview of the SIEF Ritual Year Working Group conference "Commerce and Traditions"

The Archives of Latvian Folklore (ILFA) on 1–4 June at the National Library of Latvia hosted the SIEF Ritual Year Working Group annual conference Commerce and Traditions.

The conference focused on the relationship between commerce and traditional culture and to consider the changes commercialization has brought about – both positive and negative – in the past, as well as in the present. The conference invited researchers to focus on themes and issues that reveal the presence of commerce in traditional cultural practices; to examine the role of commerce in the preservation of traditions, including national, religious, and state festivals; and to analyze the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on festive traditions.

The diversity of the conference's content and the wide range of speakers showed that both hidden and open commerce is increasingly evident in the organization and content of various festivals today. Historically, annual church markets, fairs, and pilgrimages had provided opportunities to buy and sell. Amidst them, the items, such as religious symbols, protective objects, and healing substances were available in past as much as in modern souvenir shops. In marketing terms, the values of traditional culture had been considered “products” to be branded, marketed, and sold. In today's digital and social networking age, commerce also plays an important role in preserving and strengthening existing traditions and in creating new ones.

The conference was planned as a face-to-face event at the National Library of Latvia, respecting epidemiological restrictions and at the same time providing the possibility of online presentations on the Zoom platform. However, due to the Russian military aggression and the resulting war in Ukraine, several participants had to cancel their participation. 42 researchers from Estonia, Lithuania, Ukraine, the USA, Bulgaria, Norway, France, Russia, Romania, and other countries participated in the conference. 17 researchers participated in person, while 23 speakers chose the online option, presenting a total of 40 scientific presentations. Abstracts have been issued in an electronic publication. The timing of the conference was aligned with the annual fair organized by the Ethnographic Open-Air Museum of Latvia, including a visit to the fair, thus introducing researchers from different countries to Latvian traditional culture and ethnography and providing an opportunity to observe the presence of commercialization in the preservation of traditional crafts.

The aims of the organizers were to promote the study of traditional culture in Latvia in the international arena, strengthen cooperation with researchers and research institutions from other countries, to promote the international recognition of Latvian culture. The aims were successfully reached.

The organization of the conference and the publication of the abstracts were supported by the International Society of Ethnology and Folklore, the budget sub-program 05.04.00 "Krišjānis Barons' Cabinet of Songs" of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia and the State Culture Capital Foundation (project No 2022-1-TRK025).

Last time modified: 04.07.2022 08:42:11