Sonoko Shima (Showa Women’s University)
The purpose of this presentation is to describe Japanese research on Baltic Studies since the 1980’s. Although my native country, Japan, is located very far away from the Baltics, there do exist some researchers who specialize on studies of this area. The main aim of my presentation is to examine the academic characteristics of their research. The focus will be on the current development of Baltic studies in Japan.
Maira Bundza (Western Michigan University)
The Baltic communities in North America are changing and with them also their libraries, archives and museums. There are solid collections of Baltic books in research libraries across the country as well as in archives in places like the Library of Congress, Immigration History Research Center and Hoover Institute. Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians have a history of maintaining libraries, archives, and museums in their communities. In the last 20 years, since Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania regained their independence, and as the post-World War II emigration wave ages, some of these collections have been sent to the Baltic countries, some to research institutions, others are struggling with staffing, funding, space issues, while still others are growing and evolving. There is a new interest in the Baltic émigré communities among students from the Baltic countries, as reflected in the recently established Baltic Heritage Network. Where can they come and study these émigré communities? What is being digitized and available online? This paper will look at the libraries, archives and museums maintained by the Baltic communities and discuss the issues they are facing.
Joseph Michael Ellis (Wingate University)
How do you teach about a country few American undergraduates have heard of and even fewer can locate on a map? That has been my challenge in this past year in my role as a political science professor at Wingate University. As someone whose area of interest is the Baltics, I have made teaching this region a priority. In the Spring 2012, I will be teaching a course on Estonian political and economic development – with an emphasis on the Singing Revolution – that will culminate with a group trip to Tallinn, Tartu and Pärnu in May 2012. This paper will investigate the methods used to teach Estonia to those who have little familiarity with the country. One of the strategies used in this course is an interactive pedagogy whereby students not only will explore the political dimensions of the Singing Revolution but also participate in singing traditional Estonian folk music. This is a collaborative effort between the disciplines of political science and the chorus department here at Wingate. This conference will be a great opportunity for me to share my own techniques for teaching on Estonia, while also learning from the immense wealth of knowledge available at the conference and on the panel.