Accepted paper:

Letter writing as a form of protest

Author:

Andris Saulitis (The New School for Social Research)

Paper short abstract:

It is important to assess and explore the forms of communication which existed and supported protest movements before internet and mobile technologies were available. My paper will look at the letters and letter writing as a communication platform of protests during the period 1988-1991 in Latvia.

Paper long abstract:

Social networks, blogs and other digital media forms are claimed to play a significant, if not the major, role in the recent protests all over the world. On the other hand, it is important to assess and explore the forms of communication which existed and supported protest movements before internet and mobile technologies were available. My paper will look at the letters and letter writing as a platform of protest and communication in the independence movement in Latvia during 1980s.

My fieldwork is letters written during the period from the 1988-1991 in Latvia. These letters were sent to the broadcast Labvakar! (Good Evening!) at the state television channel Latvijas Televīzija (LTV). From more than a thousand letters sent to the broadcast, I have chosen to explore those which are dealing with questions of history, i.e., occupation, deportations, etc.

I am interested foremost in the sentiments attached to the accounts of history in the letters and how they are used to support the resistance and protest movement. Suffering, notion of 'the truth' and injustice in the letters were manifested in order to fight against the occupational regime. What kind of claims and assertions are expressed through the letters? How was the communication and relations formed between the writer and the broadcast? I believe that these questions will help to explore the significance of the communication in the protest movements, as well as deeper understanding of the recent developments of nationalism and identity in Europe.

panel P055
Protest and politics of grievance in Europe