Sometimes Less Means More, or Why Do Baltic Studies Matter?
Sometimes Less Means More, or
Why Do Baltic Studies Matter?
What will the Baltic Region be like in the 21st century? What will be the common denominator between Klaipeda, Riga, Tallinn, Kaliningrad, and St. Petersburg in the new epoch? Will the Baltic States come closer to the Nordic states, or will they remain a border region in which contrasting Eastern and Western European conceptions of politics and public life continue to fight it out amongst themselves?
Will we able to apply to the Baltic countries that description by which Milan Kundera attempted to identify Central European countries: a huge variety of culture and thought in a small area? Will the tie that binds us to our neighbors be just a remembrance of common enslavement and a sense of insecurity, or will we create a new Baltic regional identity, one that is both global and open and in which we can map our past and our present according to altogether different criteria?
These are some of the questions the Baltic Region raises: formulating them is no less useful and meaningful than answering them. Possibly here is where some vital experiences are tried out, experiences that larger, more influential countries have not yet had but which await them in the future. It may be that the Baltics were and still remain a laboratory where the great challenges and tensions of modernity can be tested and the scenarios for European life in the not-too-distant future take shape. Hence, the crucial importance of Baltic studies.
Does it make sense to refer to the social and political existence of the Baltic countries as to being between civilizations of East and West, or as being on the boundary of two worlds? What are the most characteristic features of modern moral imagination? How does it manifest itself in the politics and cultures of the Baltic countries? These will be the main foci of my talk intended as a commentary on the strategy of Baltic studies, itself a critical examination of identity, politics and culture in the Baltic countries.
Prof. Leonidas Donskis, MEP (2009-2014)
European Parliament and Vytautas Magnus University