Reviving the Nation: Politics and Latvia’s Nationalistic Youth

Indra Ekmanis (University of Washington)

In 1991 Latvia regained its independence in a highly nationalistic movement, successfully overthrowing half a century of Soviet occupation. In his analyses of nationalism, Rogers Brubaker points to this type of reactive nationalism, and 20 years later, as Latvia struggles with economic and minority issues, a reactive radical nationalism may be reemerging in Latvia’s 20-30-year-old population — a population that is simultaneously growing in political power. Economic pressures in particular have resulted in a mass exodus from the country (25,700 in the last year, according to the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia), the reverse of which indicates that young people choosing to stay in Latvia are bound by something that supersedes economic opportunity. In this research, I will attempt to determine the relationship between Latvian youth remaining in Latvia and a growing nationalist sentiment, drawing on historical links to past nationalist movements and focused on the political consequences of radicalized nationalism.

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