MJR XVI Programme
:::: LECTURES ::::
Local heritage, ties between man and tradition, studies of intercultural links

The festival of Baltic culture and music Mėnuo Juodaragis is growing each year and dedicates ever bigger part of the programme to the studies of rich Lithuanian heritage, relationship between man and tradition, and intercultural links. This year, the Film and Lecture Pavilion of the 16th festival will host the most prominent researchers of various fields of Lithuanian culture to discuss the central topics of the Festival, reveal new discoveries, share ideas and hold constructive debates. Most of the lectures will focus on Latvia and the programme will include a number of Latvian speakers.


-------------------- Friday (August 23) ------------------


Orochen hunt success, rituals, and perception of landscapes

Based on almost two years of ethnographic field research, anthropologist Dr. Donatas Brandišauskas from Vilnius University will cover the adaptation strategies of Orochen reindeer herders and hunters in East Siberia under the new social-economic conditions of post-Soviet Russia. The researcher will focus on the notion of success, which is still one of the most relevant values in the changing conditions.


Dr. Vytautas TUMĖNAS
Heavenly symbols: parallels between Latvian and Lithuanian cultures

The renowned researcher from the Ethnology Department of the Lithuanian Institute of History has been studying traditional textile ornaments and cultural symbols. His report will look into the symbolism of heavenly bodies in Latvian ornamentation.



------------------ SATURDAY (August 24) ------------------


Prof. Dr. Valdis MUKTUPAVELS
World music and post-folklore

The lecture will cover the phenomenon, development and the most prominent features of world music. The folklore scene has the strongest connections with the world music in Latvia and Lithuania. It has provided the environment for traditional but essentially unconstrained music synthesising various genres. This new type of music called post-folklore in the early 1990s was entrenched in Latvia and soon reached Lithuanian in the late 1990s. Although post-folklore has global trends, it is often perceived as Latvian or Lithuanian traditional music in other countries. 


Brotherhood: Are Latvians calling Lithuanians “horse-heads” or vice versa?

The myth of the brotherhood between Latvians and Lithuanians is usually based on an ethnolinguistic construct of the "Balts" shaped in the 19th century. The axiom "Latvians and Lithuanian are sister nations" is widely used in the official channels of communication, but informal contacts often reveal a wide range of both positive and negative or even openly aggressive assessments.




Robert N. TAYLOR
The chronicle of Neo-Folk music

Revolutionary, activist of the anti-communist organisation Minutemen (active in the 60s and 70s in the US), mythologist, painter, founder and leader of the band Changes will discuss the chronicle of Neo-Folk and its inevitable spread in the mainstream music culture.

In English.







The obscure unity of the Balts in 1918–1940 m. OR why the presidents of Lithuania and Latvia did not meet


Both Lithuania and Latvia declared their independence in 1918 – the first state was restored, while the other created. There were even ideas to create a common state. But political leaders of the time exercised restrained in the affairs between the nations. Declarations of Baltic unity abound in modern times too, but actual mutual interest between the two cultures is very limited, while the knowledge of the common Baltic heritage is left to enthusiasts. The unity of the Baltic nations in 1918–1940 will be discussed by Dr. Vilma Akmenytė-Ruzgienė.


Symbolism of the Pillars of Gediminas

Dr. Dainius Razauskas will once again meet the audience and speak about the Pillars of Gediminas and their connections with Latvia. The symbol is not merely a historical heraldic sign used by the Grand Duke Vytautas and his descendants eventually becoming part of the Lithuanian coat of arms – it is also an abstract geometric shape evoking certain images and bearing corresponding symbolism. The meaning of the Pillars of Gediminas has been a subject of debate for quite some time, but there is still no single opinion. An answer may be found in the Latvian sign of fire...


Debate: Identity LT

Lithuanian identity – where does it come from, how is it manifested and what does it give? Is it natural or creted, and can it be lost? What did it look like in the past, what has become of it today, and will it be needed tomorrow? What identities surround us and how they interact? The discussion will be led by the well-known statesman and former activist of the independence movement Vidmantas Povilionis.


Lithuanian-Latvian ethnochoreographic parallels

Both Latvian and Lithuanian ethnochoreography is divided into key genres – dances, circles and dancing games. Both nations have been exchanging traditional dances from ancient times and continue to do so. Dr. Dalia Urbanavičienė will discuss the parallels of Lithuanian and Latvian ethonochoreography.


--------------- SUNDAY (August 25) --------------


Ancient Baltic clothes and their colours within the territory of Latvia

The researcher of cultural history combines archaeology and folklore to study ancient Latvian clothes within the present-day territory of Latvia. Ieva Pīgozne will present her study of the 3rd–13th century Baltic outfits based on archaeological, historical and folklore data. She will also discuss the potential and the limits of ancient garment reconstruction.

In English.



Primal Lithuanian and Latvian religion

Ervinas Koršunovas, researcher of religions from Vytautas Magnus University, claims that every religion and society depends on the basic conditions of life and survival of the nation. The discourse will be based on the assumption that such central condition in the primal Lithuanian mindset was the cycle of life and death of the fishes coming to spawn to the upper reaches of local rivers. They were the source of nourishment as well as mythological poetry giving birth to the key Lithuanian symbols and customs, while the ethnonyms of Lithuanians and Latvians are connected to the semantics of spawning.


Lithuanian-Latvian border relations

The report will cover Lithuanian-Latvian relations in the border areas of Biržai, Žeimelis, Skuodas and Šventoji in the 20th–21st century based on the field study carried out in 2011–2013. Ms. Noreikaitė will analyse the mutual perception of Lithuanians and Latvians: the similarities and differences they see and the names they give each other. She will discuss reasons behind different Lithuanian-Latvian relations in different border areas and how those relations were determined by religious socioeconomic and historical-political factors.

With slides in Latvian.


Mija Džeinara Ubartienė
Sacredness of furrows

Herbalist, representative of the Lithuanian folk heritage and practician of Tibetan medicine Mija Džeinara Ubartienė will speak about the changes our life undergoes every moment, about the differences between the realities of morning, noon and evening, and about the ways the reality of autumn and winter become a unique human experience.