Researchers of the History and Culture of the Russians of Latvia

Researchers of the History and Culture of the Russians of Latvia

The first historical studies relating to the Russian population of Latvia began in Tsarist Russia. This work continued during the first period of Latvian independence (1918 – 1940). During the Soviet era in Latvia the problems of history were analysed from the point of view of supranational class struggle theory. The historical themes related to the Latvian Russians practically ceased to be an object of independent research. However, there were exceptions. During these years serious scientific works were published in Latvia related to the business ties of the Russian merchants with Riga during the middle ages, as well as to the incipient formation of a permanent Russian population on the territory of Latvia. That time the philologists were allowed more freedom in their investigations. The philologists made a considerable contribution to the study of local Russian folklore, the comparative grammar of the Russian and Latvian languages and of Russian-Latvian cultural ties. Theatre historians prepared and published several books dedicated to the history of the Russian theatre in Riga and its most outstanding actors.

A new stage in the study of the history and culture of the Russian population was begun after Latvian independence was restored in 1991. Since then several dozen books have been written and published on this topic, in spite of the fact that many Russian scientists were squeezed out of the official academic milieu. At present both researchers and the reading public show an interest in Russian culture and in the problems faced by Russians of Latvia. It is a demonstration of the vitality of the Russian community in the country.

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