Institutionalisation of Lithuanian Studies, 1939–1955: Features of Cultural Discourse
Keywords: Lithuanian researchers, Lithuanian studies, research institutions, history of culture
AbstractThe concept of “Lithuanian studies” used in this article covers the research on the Lithuanian language, literature, folklore, Lithuanian history, and cultural heritage. The aim is to evaluate the role of scholars in the process of establishing institutes of Lithuanian studies, starting from the Antanas Smetona Institute of Lithuanian Studies in Kaunas in 1939 until the final stage of the formation of the organisational structure and activity focus of the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences in the mid1950s. The paper presents the analysis of the positions of scientists of independent Lithuania in the organisation of Lithuanian studies and the background of the establishment of the first state research institution in pre-war Kaunas. It evaluates the cultural role of scholars in preserving the continuity of Lithuanian studies in the Soviet period. Despite strict ideologisation and regulation of activities, the institutes of the Lithuanian Language, Literature, and History established by the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences during the Soviet period endeavoured to plan and consolidate research in Lithuanian studies, publishing pertinent to Lithuanian culture, and to mobilise qualified staff. Although there were a number of examples of ideological and political collaboration under the conditions of the Soviet regime, researchers of the institutes of Lithuanian studies attempted to further conduct their work, prepared texts for publication, and were engaged in organising museum exhibitions, displays and collected cultural and historical artefacts dispersed during the war. All this work was carried out primarily by passionate upholders of Lithuanian studies and Lithuanian culture who aimed for cohesion of scholarship and the culture of memory and for a broader dissemination of cultural heritage.