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The Land of Weddings and Rain

The Land of Weddings and Rain: Nation and Modernity in Post-Socialist Lithuania

Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 352
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  • Book Info
    The Land of Weddings and Rain
    Book Description:

    Based on more than a decade of ethnographic research,The Land of Weddings and Rainexamines the components of the contemporary urban wedding in post-socialist Lithuania.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-9935-9
    Subjects: History, Anthropology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xi)
  5. Map
    (pp. xii-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-50)

    Intense sunlight of a warm August afternoon poured through the motley stained-glass windows of St Anne’s, a resplendent sixteenthcentury Gothic church. Nestled in the heart of the Old Town of Vilnius, the church, among the most coveted for Catholic wedding ceremonies, was almost full but eerily silent. The priest stood facing the altar, his arms outstretched, his elegantly embroidered robe in full display. Jurga and Almantas, the bride and groom, stood behind him. As the priest began to turn towards the newly-weds to bless their marriage, a cellphone rang, mimicking a popular rock song and piercing the solemn silence of...

  7. Chapter One Soviet Propaganda and Nationalist Reappropriation
    (pp. 51-76)

    Following its annexation to the USSR in June of 1940, Lithuania was transformed into a Soviet “republic.” After some two decades of geopolitical independence between the two world wars, this Baltic nation was forced to reorient itself from “backward” capitalism to a more “progressive” modernity of socialism.¹ As a new colony in the Kremlin’s vast empire under Stalin’s watch, Lithuanian society was immediately subjected to sweeping Marxist-Leninist reforms. Throughout the 1940s and early 1950s, among the key strategies of this systemic transformation was ideological work (ideologinis darbas), a predominantly rhetorical means of propaganda and persuasion used by the Communist Party...

  8. Chapter Two Exigencies of Tradition
    (pp. 77-112)

    “As long as our traditions are alive, Lithuania lives on,” one groom stated in his toast at a wedding reception. Echoing this idea, most of my informants spoke of tradition (also known aspaprotysor “custom”) as ingredient to and constitutive of the nation, often equating one with the other.¹ Closely implicated in processes of national identification and commonly qualified with the possessive “ours,”tradicijawas a defining component of Lithuanianness and one of the principal reference points in conceptualizations of the nation in the context of post-socialist change. A kind of identifying possession as in “I am what I...

  9. Chapter Three Catholic Enchantment and Discontent
    (pp. 113-133)

    Teresė, a woman in her mid-twenties, told me that she deliberated for several months whether to incorporate a church ceremony into her wedding. While she thought it was important to get married “before God’s eyes,” she felt that her knowledge and understanding of Catholicism was almost non-existent because she, having been raised in an atheist family in 1970s Vilnius, had had no religious education. “I don’t want to stand like a fool at the altar … and pretend I know what I’m doing or what’s going on,” a frustrated Teresė stated. However, when a few weeks later she chanced upon...

  10. Chapter Four Time-Spaces of a Reordered City
    (pp. 134-187)

    In the opening pages of this ethnography I referred to marriage celebrations in urban Lithuania as performative rites of passage on the move and proposed to think of them in terms of their spatial and temporal parameters. I introducedvestuvėsas mobile ritualized events that embark participants on a journey, both pedestrian and motorized, through different city spaces invested with temporal significance. Contemporary Lithuanian weddings take space seriously and are notoriously choosy about the loci they include in their itineraries. The places to which they travel and which they bypass matter a great deal. Spaces that are thought of as...

  11. Chapter Five “Until You Grope the Ground”: Food, Drink, and Modern Things
    (pp. 188-236)

    Taking consumption as its main empirical focus, this chapter is guided by the premise that the social significance of consumer goods can be best understood by paying close ethnographic attention to the ways in which people animate them through specific social performances in concrete cultural settings that are shaped by broader processes of historical transformation (McAllister 2006; Croegaert 2011). As a preeminent social arena of and for consumption, the wedding exposes especially well the connections among goods, people, and their shifting life worlds. This rite of passage provides a setting in which a wide variety of consumables converge and come...

  12. Post-Socialist Scriptum
    (pp. 237-244)

    To write an ethnography of modernity in contemporary Eastern Europe is to examine profound shifts in time and space. In many ways, such an ethnography is a chronotopic project, one that inquires into how people in the peripheries of global political and economic power seek to synchronize and spatially align their lives and selves with processes of Western-style modernization. To become modern, something that millions of East Europeans are aspiring to do, is to leave socialism behind, to transcend the perceived spatio-temporal inferiority vis-à-vis the West, to “relocate to Europe,” and to take up residence in the “civilized, normal” world....

  13. Glossary of Frequently Cited Words and Phrases
    (pp. 245-246)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 247-274)
  15. References
    (pp. 275-296)
  16. Index
    (pp. 297-318)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 319-321)