“A lot of people write about ethnic integration or culture – I want my research to bring both together,” said Ph.D. in International Studies Candidate Indra Ekmanis.
That goal is one step closer for Ekmanis, who recently won a Fulbright Scholarship for 2016-2017 to study cultural integration in Latvia. She is fluent in Latvian.
Starting in fall 2016, she will head to the countryside and Riga, the capital of Latvia, to explore how minority groups engage with Latvian cultural events, such as the UNESCO recognized Song and Dance Celebrations. In particular, Ekmanis will focus on folk dance collectives and school youth involvement.
This builds upon her five months of field research in Latvia during the past year for her dissertation project: “Host land or homeland?: Civic-cultural identity and integration in Latvia.”
“The interdisciplinary approach [at the Jackson School] is very valuable to individual growth and a broader thinking about the world’s problems, and the ability to match a regional speciality with a wider academic context is important when we are searching for real-world engagement with social issues,” she said.
Ekmanis conducts mixed-methods research on integration in post-Communist states, covering topics such as education, citizenship, media and culture. She is currently focused on measuring the civic-cultural identity perceptions of interethnic school youth in Eastern Latvia, and the effect of minority participation in national cultural festivals.
She collaborates closely with the Latvian Academy of Culture and has also been supported in her fieldwork by Daugavpils University. The majority of Indra’s undergraduate and graduate work has focused on the Russian, East European and Central Asian region, including research on post-Soviet security, protest and culture.
Ekmanis also earned her M.A. at the Jackson School Ellison Center for Russian, Eastern Europe and Central Asian Studies.