Unruly Actors: Latvian Women of the Red Army in Post-War Historical Memory

TitleUnruly Actors: Latvian Women of the Red Army in Post-War Historical Memory
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsEglitis, Daina, and Vita Zelče
JournalNationalities Papers

This work highlights the case of Latvian women volunteers of the Red Army who worked and fought on the eastern fronts of World War II. An estimated 70,000–85,000 Latvians served in the Red Army, some as conscripts, others as volunteers. At least several hundred of those were women. How are Latvian women volunteers of the Red Army represented and remembered in Soviet and post-Soviet historical accounts of World War II? Why have they not been remembered in most historical accounts of this period? How are ethnicity, gender, and associated social roles implicated in their historical marginality? These questions are situated in the context of literature on collective memory and microsociological literature on social roles, and used to develop the analytical concept of the unruly actor – historical actors who are challenges to dominant memory narratives because they fail to conform to normative social roles ascribed on the basis of, among others, gender and ethnicity. The case of Latvian women volunteers is used to articulate the argument that the marginality of some groups in dominant historical narratives can be understood in terms of their disruption of the historical “scene”, which is configured to reflect a desired social order.

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