LIFE STORIES IN THE RESEARCH OF LATVIAN SOCIETY (Elulood lati uhiskonna uurimise allikana)
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The article introduces the objectives, theoretical bases and activities of the Latvian National Oral History project, which was started in 1992. The project was defined by the prominence of life stories in the society as well as by a necessity to construct an interpretation of the recent history that would focus on individual experience. Over the past 17 years, the work of the project has resulted in establishing a remarkable life story archives, containing approx. 3,000 recordings, and more than 50 scholarly publications, issued in Latvia and abroad, that are based on the analyses of these stories. The research topics of the project and the related collecting and publication of life stories are dealt with from the biographical perspective, commonly used in sociology. Themes that address the methodological questions of life story and oral history research, the study of ethnic and religious identities in Latvia, as well as Latvian identity, cultures, and communities outside Latvia are considered more closely. The article concludes by an evaluation of the contribution of the Latvian National Oral History project, and more specifically, the collected life stories as a resource for studying Latvian society.
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