chapter  8
Baltic Identities in the 1990s: Renewed Fitness
Pages 22

In their efforts to preserve and enhance their respective identities, Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians are confronted by three profound challenges: (1) The indigenous populations of the Baltic region are small. What fate awaits cultures whose languages are spoken by only one to three million people? (2) Baltic material and spiritual life has been held back and repressed by fifty years of Communist repression and stagnation. Looking across the sea to Sweden and Finland, Balts see how far their own lives have fallen behind "world standards." Will freedom bring a strengtheningor jettisoning-<>f native ways? How will traditional song festivals hold up against rock concerts and other pulls of "McWorld"? BaIts are tempted to mimic rather than "do their own thing." (3) Baltic identities are threatened not only by the dynamism of the West but by multiple burdens from the East. The Baltic populations are not homogeneous. Can they work out an accommodation with ethnic Russian and other settlers that does not overwhelm indigenous cultures?