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Online conference "Socialist Folkloristics: A Disciplinary Heritage"

We kindly invite you to "save the date". The Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia organises an international conference "Socialist Folkloristics: A Disciplinary Heritage" on 17–18 December, 2020.

The conference will be held in distance using ZOOM virtual meeting place. In order to receive further information and an invitation, please, fill in the Registration form.


A New Study on Charms

The publishing house of the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art (University of Latvia) recently published Aigars Lielbārdis' research on Latvian charms, “Collection 150. Charms”. The book includes a description of the development and content of the ALF Collection 150, as well as an analysis of the largest functional groups of charms and a chronological listing of the materials, the names of charm-book owners, folk performers, as well as collectors and contributors (presented chronologically by date of contribution).

The book has been prepared within the basic budgeted sub-programme 05.04.00 "The Krišjānis Barons Cabinet of Folksongs" of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia, as well as the post-doctoral project of the European Regional Development Fund "Digital catalogue of Latvian charms" (No. VIAA/1/16/217) and also published with the financial support of the State Culture Capital Foundation of Latvia.


ALF's reading room closed by June 9

Taking into account the state of emergency declared in Latvia, the reading room of the Archives of Latvia will be closed by June 9. If you need assistance please contact the Archives by e-mail or visit the Digital Archives of Latvian Folklore

CFP: Socialist Folkloristics: A Disciplinary Heritage

The international conference "Socialist Folkloristics: A Disciplinary Heritage" will be organized on 28-31 October 2020 in Riga, Latvia. You can apply until May 1, 2020 by sending to abstract of your presentation, no longer than 200 words, professionally edited for publishing; BIO, stating your affiliations and interests in no more than 50 words.


Fellowship awarded for Sanita Reinsone's book "Forest Daughters" translation into English

Translator Kaija Straumanis awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts (USA) to support the translation from the Latvian of the nonfiction collection Forest Daughters, edited by ILFA's researcher Sanita Reinsone. This collection includes 12 life stories of Latvian women who lived in the thick of the guerilla war against Soviet invasion and occupation. Often left out of Latvia's guerilla war history, women played an integral role in protecting their homeland. Reinsone (b. 1981), a scholar in Latvian folklore, oral history, and digital humanities, recorded the stories of these women in a documentary-essay style and each chapter is alive with the respective woman's experience as she recalls harrowing and heart-wrenching events of her life during this period in history.

Kaija Straumanis is a translator and the editorial director of Open Letter Books. Her book-length translations from the Latvian include Flesh-Coloured Dominoes by Zigmunds Skujiņš and High Tide by Inga Ābele, which won the American Association of Teachers of Slavic and East European Languages Award for Best Literary Translation into English.

Merry Christmas and a successful 2020!

Call for Papers: Socialist Folkloristics: A Disciplinary Heritage

Are you working on the post-war disciplinary history of folkloristics or related discipline in the former Soviet Union or the Socialist Bloc countries? Please consider contributing a draft of original research article to the international, peer reviewed, and SCOPUS or Web of Science indexed volume in summer 2021. The collection of articles will be prepared by the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia.

31.01.2020. – send to - your name, surname and short bio, - title of your article and keywords, - concept or summary of the article (up to 350 words);

17.02.2020. – notice of acceptance and further information;

20.06.2020. – 7000–10000 words long original article in English;

Fall 2020 – peer-review and editing.

In publication our special interest lies in, but is not limited to such issues as:

• The impact of the Socialist heritage on the development of folkloristics in the post-Socialist countries;

• The role of the Socialist regimes of knowledge in organization of folklore archives, ethnographic collections and other institutional representations of folk life;

• The contribution of folkloristics and related disciplines to resistance and dissent in the former USSR and the Soviet bloc countries;

• The parameters of transnational post-socialist disciplinary history of folklore;

• History of folkloristics and ethnography in the light of Soviet post-colonialism;

• The interaction of folklorists and ethnographers through the Iron Curtain;

• Influential theories and source publications in the Socialist folkloristics.

In order to maximize the impact of research dedicated to disciplinary histories of the previous Socialist world and establish new networks within the field, an interdisciplinary, international conference will be organized on 29-31 October 2020 in Riga, Latvia.


The most recent issue of 'Letonica' has been published

Along with the fruits of the land fall has also brought the 39th issue of the humanities journal 'Letonica'. Guest-edited by ILFA researcher Toms Ķencis, the issue is dedicated to folklore within the relationship between state and tradition. As such it reflects the centenary of statehood of Latvia celebrated on 2018.

Twelve double-blind peer-reviewed papers published in the journal are mostly related to three events: last year’s Krišjānis Barons memorial conference ‘Traditions and state’, the most recent project of the disciplinary history research 'Latvian folkloristics (1945-1985)' carried out at ILFA, and the publication of the first part of the 11th volume ('Wedding') of the academic edition of Latvian folksongs. Apart from one paper originally in English, all articles are in Latvian with an English summaries. The articles are followed by a special paper on the Archives of Latvian Folklore, eight book reviews and disciplinary news.

The 39th issue of ‘Letonica’ was published by ILFA Publishing house with support of the State Culture Capital Foundation, Latvian Council of Science, and Ministry of Education.

Conference on Folklore and Education

Krišjānis Barons' Conference is an annual academic forum organized by the Archives of Latvian Folklore, ILFA, UL. In 2019, the topic is "Folklore and Education" (Folklora un izglītība). Viewed from diverse perspectives, the place of traditional culture in formal and informal educational processes will be discussed.

There will be 18 researchers from various fields of humanities, social sciences and arts presenting their papers. Both historical and current issues will be analysed, including folklore as an ideological educational tool, folklore in textbooks, contribution of students and teachers in documenting traditions, teacher jokes, intangible heritage in education, challenges and methods of teaching folklore, etc.

The Conference programme (in Latvian) is available HERE.

The Conference will take place on October 30 and 31 at the Conference Centre of the National Library of Latvia (Mūkusalas iela 3, Rīga, on the -1 level). We welcome everyone who is interested in the links between folklore and education to attend the event.

The Conference is financed by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Latvia (basic budget sub-programme 05.04.00 "Krišjānis Barons’ Cabinet of Folksongs").

Conference "Commerce and Traditions"

14th Conference of the SIEF Ritual Year Working Group

15–17 June 2020, Riga (Latvia)


The impact of product marketing is visible in everyday life, including a wide range of traditions and festivities, which have lately become highly commercialized. In marketing terms, the values of traditional culture are considered "products" to be branded, marketed and sold. We have all experienced the pre-Christmas gift buying madness and have visited souvenir counters at major historical sites and cultural venues in different countries, each promoting their "brands". Historically, annual church markets, fairs and pilgrimages attracted people from great distances, providing opportunities to buy, sell, and trade durable goods in addition to food and drink required by pilgrims and merchants. Additional items, such as religious symbols, protective objects, and healing substances were available much as in modern souvenir shops. The means for advertising such objects for sale were, at that time, limited. Today advertising and marketing campaigns appear everywhere. Many people protest against what they perceive as excessive commercialization of their favourite secular or religious festivals. However, marketing practices attract larger crowds and help to preserve and popularize traditions that might otherwise be lost. Commercialization has made the sale of traditional crafts financially viable, preserving them for future generations. Thus, it is possible for craftspeople to continue practicing their traditional arts and crafts. Not only have the traditional artisans benefited, but religious institutions have witnessed an increase in income, which is needed to maintain the facilities visited by the growing numbers of visitors. New forms of commercialization of rituals with the developing practices of creating new festivals and making them local tourist brands can be seen in many geographical areas.


Knut Djupedal’s Guest Lecture

A guest lecture by Norwegian researcher Knut Djupedal is expected at the Archives of Latvian Folklore on August 14, 2019. Mr. Djupedal’s lecture is entitled “World View, Culture, and Folklore.” The lecture will discuss the relationship between these three concepts. At the end of the lecture, Mr. Djupedal will discuss some of the practical uses that an education in folklore – in his experience - can provide when studies are finished, a degree is achieved, and a living must be made.

Knut Djupedal (b. 1948) has recently retired from a 27-year career as director of the Norwegian Emigrant Museum, near Hamar, Norway. Previously, Djupedal, who has an M.A. in History from the University of Oregon, USA, and a Magister Artium in Folkloristics from the University of Bergen, Norway, worked as Research Associate with the Norwe­gian Re­search Council for the Humanities (NAV­F), on pro­jects con­cerning Norwegian emigra­tion and return migra­tion. He also served as Temporary County Cultural Conserva­tor in Sogn og Fjordane County, Norway, and lectured at the Universities of Bergen, Oslo and Stavanger, and The Hamar University College of Education.


How to Facilitate Cooperation between Humanities Researchers and Cultural Heritage Institutions

Our leading researcher Sanita Reinsone is one of the authors of the newly published report How to Facilitate Cooperation between Humanities Researchers and Cultural Heritage Institutions. Guidelines, edited by Maciej Maryl and Klaudia Grabowska from the Digital Humanities Centre at the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences. This report is the outcome of a hands-on workshop awarded funding by the DARIAH Theme Grant 2017 and organised in the project ‘Facilitating Cooperation Between Humanities Researchers and Cultural Heritage Institutions’ which is implemented by the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Trinity College Dublin and Creative Commons Polska.

'Visions and Traditions – Knowledge Productions and Tradition Archives' is the winner of the Brenda McCallum Prize

We are very proud and happy, that the book 'Visions and Traditions – Knowledge Productions and Tradition Archives' is the winner of the 2018 Brenda McCallum Prize, for works of excellence and innovation that further the cause of preservation, organization, curation, or enhanced public access and use related to folklife archival collections:

"We congratulate the authors and editors on a work the Committee agreed was forward-looking, cutting edge, and tightly focused on centralmatters of folklore and folklife archiving, history, theory, and practice. Committee members also saw the work as propelling folklore archives into the modern era of disciplinary shifts by claiming a firm foothold in academic conversations accessible to archivists, folklorists, and folklore-archivists. It also offered numerous interesting case study examples for contemplation."
– American Folklore Society / Archives & Libraries Section Prize Committee

Among the editors and authors are our leading researchers Rita Treija and Sanita Reinsone.

Sing with the Archives

Dziedi ar arhīvu

On 15th of February the Archives of Latvian Folklore launches a creative crowdsourcing campaign "Sing with the Archives". Its aim is to popularize the archival sound recordings and explore contemporary interpretations of traditional music. The digital platform invites to listen to the archival songs, to add their cover versions to the old recordings and to vote for the new versions.

How did traditional music sound long ago and how does it sound today? The project invites you to learn some new songs from the Digital Archives of Latvian Folklore and sing, record, arrange, compose, and upload your own 'cover versions' to the Archive's audio collection. The selection of recordings complied for this campaign includes a rich variety of songs in terms of content, style, origin, and language – everyday songs and mythological songs, joyful songs and sorrowful songs, folk songs and popular songs in Latvian, Livonian, Belarussian, Russian, and Romani. All regions of Latvia, as well as Latvian villages in Siberia and Bashkiria are represented in the selection. The oldest recordings were made in the 1920s and 30s, and the newest are from the beginning of the 21st century.

The crowdsourcing campaign is organized within the framework of the project "Empowering knowledge society: interdisciplinary perspectives on public involvement in the production of digital cultural heritage" (Project No.:

Tour de CLARIN: Interview with Sanita Reinsone

Tour de CLARIN highlights prominent User Involvement (UI) activities of a particular CLARIN national consortium. This time the focus is on Latvia and Sanita Reinsone, a leading researcher at the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art at the University of Latvia. The interview was conducted via Skype by Jakob Lenardič.

CLARIN (Common Language Resources and Technology Infrastructure) is a research infrastructure that was initiated from the vision that all digital language resources and tools from all over Europe and beyond are accessible through a single sign-on online environment for the support of researchers in the humanities and social sciences.

You can read the interview here.