The oral history researchers’ group of the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology of the University of Latvia (IPS UL) has been conducting life story studies since 1992 and has at its disposal both knowledge-based resources and resources from the respective infrastructure. A unique collection of life stories has been developed, which comprises approximately 4500 biographical interviews recorded in various regions of Latvia as well as in Latvian communities outside of Latvia (Norway, Sweden, the United States, Canada, Germany, Australia, Brazil).

National-scale research projects (financed by the Latvian Council of Science: ‘National Oral History: Model and Interpretation’ [No. 92.0402], ‘National Oral History: Identity and Integration’ [No. 01. 0751], ‘National Oral History: Resource in Analysis of Cultural, Social and Identity Issues’ [No. 05.1922], ‘National Oral History: Sources in Analysis of Social Life and Social Processes’ [No. 09.1046], ‘Formation of Consciousness of National Identity After the Re-establishing of Independence in Latvia: Tendencies and Factors’ [No. 09.1531], ‘Ethnic and Narrative Diversity in the Construction of Life Stories in Latvia’ [No. 370/2012]) as well as international projects (‘From Past to Present: Migration and Integration Through the Life Story Network’ [Nordplus, 2017–2020], ‘Family History: Facilitating Intergenerational and Intercultural Exchange’ [Nordplus, 2013–2014], ‘Education Through Oral History Fieldwork’ [Nordplus, 2009–2011], and others) have been implemented on the basis of these sources.

Over the past six years, the study of these life stories has also led to SCI publications (in Central Europe, European Journal of Life Writing, Romani Studies, Polish Sociological Review, Mäetagused, Letonica, Forschungen zur baltischen Geschichte, etc.) and national publications (for example, in LZA Vēstis, Latvijas Vēsture, Humanities and Social Sciences in Latvia). Five monographs about biographical studies have been published: Skultans, V. The Testimony of Lives: Narrative and Memory in Post-Soviet Latvia (1998), We did not go to Sweden to become Swedes (in Latvian, ed. by Baiba Bela [2010]), Skultans, V. Empathy and Healing: Essays in Medical and Narrative Anthropology (2011), Life Story and Self-Awareness: Oral History in Latvia (in Latvian, ed. by Ieva Garda-Rozenberga [2012]), and To Belong and to Differ: Roma, Russian, and Latvian Life Stories in Latvia (in Latvian, ed. by Vieda Skultans [2017]).

Since 2000 the oral history researchers’ group has participated in the realization of six projects funded by the Latvian Council of Science, three state programmes, and also three international projects. Basing their work on oral history sources, over the past 26 years the NOH researchers have developed such research areas as: biographical interview methodology and the special nature of oral history research; the study of ethnic, historical, and regional identities among the inhabitants of Latvia; cultural interaction in diaspora communities; everyday history and problematic aspects of Socialist-era history. The researchers have published more than 100 articles in various collections and scientific journals in Latvia and abroad, which together make up the largest body of information available in the Latvian language about the methodologies and theoretical problems of biographical research (the specific nature of biographical studies and the qualitative methodology of biographical research). In addition to individual publications, the researchers have also published scientific monographs, compiled collections of articles, and published books and internet resources for the general public.

More about project from its beginning 

Ongoing activities (in Latvian)