Provinciality in the Construction of the Eastern European Self-Identity in Latvian Media

  • Abstract:

    The paper focuses on provinciality in the construction of the identity and self-identity of Eastern Europe. By provincialism is understood the rational and emotional attitude towards Eastern Europe as the periphery of the European metropolis. Provincial thinking and feelings are characterised by a hierarchical approach to the imagined construction of the centre and periphery.Provincial feelings have an ambivalent character. On the one hand, affiliation to Eastern Europe is accompanied by a certain sense of inferiority, detachment and distance, resulting from a comparison with an increased value allocation for Western Europe, its society, art, way of life and values. Historically, Europe is associated with the values of freedom, justice, human rights, individualism, rational thinking, prosperity and others. On the other hand, provinciality is characterised by increased locality, insularity and often unjustified self-sufficiency. The paper uses the double provincialism concept of Benedict Anderson & Ruchira Mendiones. (Anderson, Benedict, and Mendiones, Ruchira. (1985). In the Mirror: Literature and Politics in Siam in the American Era. Duang Kamol, Bangkok). According to it, the countries of Eastern Europe have both their own imaginary peripheral and central divisions and a common imagined centre, the authority of Western Europe, which leads to a desire to emulate, follow and align. The readiness to glorify the imagined centre is united with a compensatory desire to highlight and defend the survival value of local autonomy and specificity. The experience of the identity and self-identification of the Baltic States (Latvia) as Eastern Europe has been used to understand double provinciality. Double expression of provincial thinking and emotion has been analyzed in media discourse, literature, theatre, art, politics, as well as a small survey of students at the University of Latvia. Provinciality, as an adjunct to the identity and self-identification, is important in the context of the selection and action of Eastern Europe and in the forecasts of participation in the functioning of the European Union. On the one hand, satisfaction and pride in the formal belonging to Europe, on the other hand, the preservation and security of identity ambivalently forms the design of provinciality.