Discourses of national identity in contemporary Lithuanian architecture

Julija Reklaitė

Doctoral dissertation

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The subject of research of this work is a construct of national identity in contemporary Lithuanian architecture. The goal of the dissertation is to disclose the ways of construction and conveyance of the national identity through architecture and its images.

The work focuses on the identity phenomenon in architecture based on three essential concepts: first, architecture is social art; second, architecture is one of the brightest forms for imaging power, third, architecture can quite directly convey, how the world is seen by its creators – this causes perhaps the main tension of architecture – architect’s creative activities and social discourse. The dissertation aims at tackling all three problem levels of national identity: the social, of power and of personal expression within three most important periods of socio-political situation and architectural interaction in Lithuania, so-called breaking points, – in the interwar architecture of Kaunas, soviet period architecture and most recent architecture made after the restoration of Lithuanian independence in 1990. The work makes relevant the concepts of nationalism, banal nationalism, identity, national identity, traditions (customs), globalization, regionalism, critical regionalism, myth and breaking point.

The dissertation makes three cross-sections of the subject: theoretical aiming to disclose the concepts of national identity in different branches of science and its construction prerequisites; chronologic – analyzing and comparing the understanding and expression of identity in different historic periods; and conceptual – distinguishing the trends of identity construction and illustrating examples. These cross-sections of the subject essentially coincide with the three chapters of the work.

The dissertation discloses that Lithuanian architecture experiences a crisis of expression of national identity, which may be determined by the retrospective narrative fixed back in times of the Sąjūdis movement and peasant-like perception of Lituanity. After performance of the historic research, it is established that the ethno-linguistic approach towards the national identity in architecture was encouraged in soviet times applying similar principles of re-coding meanings. The origins of this phenomenon can be traced back in the interwar period, when the Grand Duchy of Lithuania was romanticized and imitated, and relations with architectural forms of Baroque Vilnius were sought. But unique works of contemporary architecture forming a new Lithuanian identity can be found.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.20334/2300-M

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145×205 mm
202 p.
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