Walls Do Talk: Gendered Spaces in Socialist and Post-Socialist Latvia

Friday, November 15, 2019 - 1:30pm to 3:00pm
color photo of graffiti

CGIS South Building, 1730 Cambridge Street, Room S050

This presentation examines the lives lived by, and in, an apartment building in Riga, Latvia to trace gendered processes of 20th and 21st century transitions. Built in 1936, the physical building itself tells a story of historical and ideological transitions as it was nationalized and reshaped, privatized and reconstructed, as was the neighborhood around it. Interviews with eighteen residents of the building reveal how each transition redrew lines of domestic spaces and recontextualized gendered relationships. This presentation is part of a collaboration with the National Oral History Archive at the University of Latvia, where the interviews are housed.

Speaker, Mara Lazda will focus in particular on the accounts by the daughters of the building's two original co-owners, Valda (1926-2006) and Livija (1931-). Though their fathers both fell victim to World War II, their daughters maintained ties to the building, and reclaimed ownership in 1991. Mara will consider their accounts in the context of the considerable body of existing scholarship on housing, domestic space, Soviet and socialist ideology.

Mara Lazda received her Ph.D. in History from Indiana University in 2005. A specialist in Latvian history, she is the author most recently, of “Negotiating Gendered Nationalism and Transnationalism in Post-Socialist Latvia,” Nationalities Papers 46 (3), 422-40 (2018), “The Discourse of Power through Gender in World War II Latvia,” in Women and Men at War: A Gender Perspective on World War II and Its Aftermath in Central and Eastern Europe, eds. Maren Roeger and Ruth Leiserowitz. Osnabrueck: Fibre, 59-80 (2012), and “Reconsidering Nationalism: The Baltic Case of Latvia in 1989,” International Journal of Politics, Culture, and Society 22 (no. 4), 517-36 (2009). She has lectured at colleges, universities, and international conferences on her research. 


Mara Lazda, Associate Professor, Department of History, Bronx Community College, The City University of New York

Sponsored by the Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies.

For more information, please call 617-495-4037.


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