Embedded in nature? Formation of the Latvian identity narrative at the outset of the collapse of the Soviet Union

Activity: Talk or presentation typesOral presentation


The Baltic States are not forerunners in the European Union (EU) climate and environmental policies. Environmental protection, however, was an issue inextricably linked to national resistance movements in the Baltic nations during the times of the Soviet occupation. Arguably, care about environment, which mobilized the Baltic societies against the communist regime and its centralised planning, is a “deep story”, needlessly forgotten in the path of liberal transformation.
Informed by a strategic narrative theoretical framework this study focuses on the formation of the narrative of national identity of one of the Baltic States – Latvia - around the issues of environmental protection at the end of the 1980s, when the national awakening movements in the republics of the Soviet Union started to gain strength. Soviet industrialisation and ambitious infrastructure construction plans (i.e. a new dam on Daugava river) alongside with forced immigration endangered both the environment and the cultural existence of the Latvian nation. Analysing the available primary sources (newspaper articles, published memories, archive materials) and secondary literature, this study investigates how the narrative of eco-nationalism in Latvia formed, focusing on the main elements of the narrative: narrator, actors, scene, action and time.
This study demonstrates that protection of environment, interacting with national sentiment, became a powerful narrative in Latvia around which large-scale societal mobilisation against the communist regime became possible. It implies that the narrative of environmental protection, revived and updated with the EU climate ambitions, has a potential to appeal to the Latvian society nowadays, and should be further investigated.
Period17 Jun 2021
Event titleInternational conference and workshop "Transformation Narratives Beyond Winners and Losers: Deep Stories in Central and Eastern Europe"
Event typeConference
OrganisersVilnius University, University of Warsaw, University of Flensburg
LocationVilnius, LithuaniaShow on map


  • strategic narrative
  • environmentalism
  • national identity
  • Latvia

Field of Science

  • 5.6 Political science