Accepted Paper:

The Tradition of Latvian Nationwide Song and Dance Celebration as a modern identity brand  


Valdis Muktupāvels (University of Latvia)
Rūta Muktupāvela (Latvian Academy of Culture)
Anda Lake (Latvian Academy of Culture)

Paper short abstract:

The paper analyzes challenges of modern changing environment for more than a century-old tradition. Three perspectives – authenticity of tradition, modern community needs and nation branding policy – offer different development scenarios for the Celebration, but is there a uniting solution?

Paper long abstract:

In the context of Latvia's centennial celebration in 2018 the question of essential nation branding elements becomes topical. One of the most significant elements of national culture is Latvian Nationwide Song and Dance Celebration. Established in 1873, this traditional undertaking has managed to survive different political regimes, and together with similar events in Estonia and Lithuania is inscribed in 2008 in the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Concerning the Celebration a special supporting law was issued and adopted in Latvia. Still several problematic issues, related to form and contents of the Celebration, have become topical in the public space. Three different perspectives have been outlined so far, treating the Celebration differently. Firstly, a tradition protected by the authority of UNESCO demands formal authenticity. Secondly, it is cultural and social activity of participants' community, which has its own needs, interests and expectations reflecting features of changing social life and influences of popular culture. Thirdly, the Celebration has been used in nation branding strategies, thus a focus on its attractivity and commodification becomes significant. These three quite different perspectives offer different development scenarios for the Celebration. According to field research data, the uniting element in this situation is emotional reaction, its depth and intensity has been displayed in all three spheres, and its presence can be perceived as the real authentic feature that ensures sustainability of the Celebration. The integrity of the Celebration relies on its deep function - to serve as a ritual of national solidarity.

Panel Heri005
Heritage management and identity brands: interplay and stakes (En-Fr)