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Interpretations of Cosmopolitanism and Cosmopolitan Identity in Latvian Periodicals (till 1940)



Daugavpils University

Journal Title:

Language, Individual & Society


Vol 13





The origins of globalization processes have to be looked for in the distant past, and in each of the previous historical periods, the course of these processes – intensiveness and extensiveness –, as well as their aftereffects are different. For the construction of Europe’s future identities (including that of Latvia’s), when the tendencies of the spread of cosmopolitan value-orientation are obvious, the principles behind creating the nation’s identities in the past become essential. The periods of the development of Latvia’s history and national identity show the orientation towards individual and national or, on the contrary, towards universal and cosmopolitan. This paper is aimed at summarizing and analysing the interpretations of the concepts “cosmopolite” and “cosmopolitan identity” as given in the Latvian periodicals during 1) the time of the development of national self-confidence in the second half of the nineteenth century, 2) the period of Europeanization and cultural openness at the turn of the century, 3) the 20–30s of the twentieth century. When the movement of national renascence (“the New Latvians” / in Latvian “Jaunlatvieši”) began, the “intrusion of the foul cosmopolitism” (A. Kronvalds) was looked upon as a threat to the national culture. Whereas the cosmopolitan-global dominant, universalism and universal human values prevail in the attitude of the Latvian intellectuals’ movement “the New Current” (in Latvian “Jaunā Strāva”) of the end of the nineteenth century. After the proclamation of Latvian national independence, but especially under the influence of the ideology of positivism in the 1930s, the idea of cosmopolitism is juxtaposed with the idea of national unity. Taking into consideration the fact that there exists a correlation between individualization and cosmopolitanism (G. Simmel), cosmopolitism has been studied also within the context of “cosmopolitan art” – Modernism and Symbolism, where a symbol as a means of a universal language (Esperanto) is used to reveal an individualized world perception. The cultural-historical method, content analysis and structural-semiotic method have been used in the research.
Keywords: national self-confidence, identity, culture patriotism, universalism, cosmopolitism, cosmopolitan art, anti-tradition

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