Latvian American Studies

The American Latvian Association Graduate Fellowship in Latvian American Studies (not available in 2022-2023) provides support for a full-time UMN graduate student in good academic standing with demonstrated potential in their field and who will be committed to and involved in the work of the IHRC [Archive]’s Latvian American collection. Preference given to students studying Latvian American history and knowledge of the Latvian language is highly recommended, but all students with demonstrated research, writing, and digital humanities skills are encouraged to apply. The fellowship may be used for living expenses as well as research travel and expenses.  The fellowship may be awarded more than once to the same student during their enrollment in the University.

Application Materials:

  1. A completed fellowship application form
  2. A two-page description of your research topic and how the fellowship supports your plan of study next year
  3. A 500-word description explaining your interest in Latvian American history and your Latvian language ability (if applicable) OR an explanation of your archival research, writing, and digital humanities skills and experience
  4. Current academic transcript from the University of Minnesota (unofficial copy acceptable)
  5. A letter of recommendation from your graduate advisor 

2022 American Latvian Association Graduate Fellow

Kristen Einertson is a PhD candidate in the rhetoric area of the Communication Studies department at the University of Minnesota. Her work focuses on the foreign policy rhetoric and transnational discourse surrounding the post-Soviet transition of Eastern European states. Inspired by her 2018-2019 Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to Riga, Latvia, Kristen has continued her study of Eastern Europe and the region’s languages, cultures, and histories while working at the university. Last year she was awarded the US Department of Education’s Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship in International Studies to study Russian and the University of Minnesota’s Immigration History Research Center’s American Latvian Association Graduate Fellowship, which she received again this year. When not pursuing academic endeavors, she enjoys spending time with her husband and 9-month old baby as well as hiking and playing violin.

Description of Research

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, made between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in 1939, contained three secret and subversive protocols that relegated the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to Soviet control for most of the remainder of the twentieth century. The pact and its protocols would prove detrimental to the Baltic region, beginning of a traumatic period of Baltic history primarily characterized by the protocols’ enduring consequences and leading to the mass deportation of Balts to Siberia. Yet despite their adverse effects on Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and their secretive nature, the protocols reemerged within foreign policy discourse nearly 50 years after the pact’s signing, when they were leveraged as a key element within the arguments surrounding the Baltic separation from the USSR and the simultaneous weakening of the Eastern bloc. My research analyzes the ways in which US foreign policy rhetoric of the late 1980s resuscitated the presence of the secret protocols and utilized them in US diplomatic negotiations with the USSR regarding the Baltic states’ freedom. Documents found in the Joint Baltic American National Committee collection of the University of Minnesota’s Immigration History Research Center and its archives, including congressional letters, documents outlining the creation of Baltic Freedom Day, and presidential proclamations, show that a strategic rhetorical utilization of the secret protocols within US-USSR-Baltic communication complicated the Soviet Union’s relationship with the Baltic states, creating an opportunity for the Baltics to coalesce around the existence of the protocols in order to strengthen their national, independent identities and for the US to argue for their separation from the USSR.

This fellowship is not available in 2022-2023