K. B. Usha (Ed.), Nation Building in Baltic States: History, Memory and Identity

Published date01 January 2021
Date01 January 2021
Subject MatterBook Reviews
122 Book Review 58(1)
country in the region has fallen into the hands of a populist far-right demagogue,
many other countries across the globe both in the Global North and South
experiencing the same. The book offers critical insights for understanding the
whole saga of the rise and fall of the pink tide, the lessons of which are important
for the left or progressive governments in other parts of the world.
Anirban Chatterjee https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6386-2773
Anirban Chatterjee
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science,
Plassey College, District-Nadia, West Bengal, India
E-mail: chatterjee.anirban148@gmail.com
K. B. Usha (Ed.), Nation Building in Baltic States: History, Memory
and Identity (Adroit Publishers, 2018), xiv + 236 pp., US$45. ISBN:
978-81-87393-42-9 (Hardcover).
DOI: 10.1177/0020881720984671
The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia that regained independence
from the erstwhile Soviet Union in 1991 are engaged in the task of nation building.
Their democratic transformation and nation building have become a complex
process wherein the legacy of history, memory and identity form constituent
elements and a source of politics in shaping national identity, citizenship and
foreign policy. Nation Building in Baltic States: History, Memory and Identity
edited by K. B. Usha is a noteworthy attempt at examining the nation building
process and covers many complex issues and dilemmas. This book stands out as
an important contribution to Baltic region studies, which continue to remain terra
incognita due to insufficient academic attention, particularly in India.
The book as a whole argues that the post-Soviet democratic transformation and
nation building in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are founded on three core elements:
history, memory and identity. How to ‘come to terms with history’ looms large in
Baltic consciousness as a complex question in the contemporary transformation.
These tiny countries are treated as a single geopolitical unit despite sociocultural
differences. They experienced foreign domination by neighbouring states except
during the interwar period, till they regained independence in 1991.
The theoretical framework of the book is drawn from the works of Benedict
Anderson, Paulos Mar Gregorios, Eric Hobsbawm, Antony D. Smith and Johan
Gottfried Herd for understanding the way Baltic states try to reconstruct new
boundaries for the ‘self’ and the ‘other’. Memory and historical experiences play
an important role if identity is taken as a product of social relations, and in actual
reality, the ruling class forges the interests and dominates in the creation of
national identity. The culture–language rules of the elites are useful in establishing
hegemony through the education system and administrative mechanisms.

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