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Arturs Pokšans will defend his doctoral thesis „Upbringing in places of scarcity: reproduction of violence and inequality in Latvian residential education“

On December 13 at 12 Arturs Pokšans will defend his doctoral thesis „Upbringing in places of scarcity: reproduction of violence and inequality in Latvian residential education“.

Supervisors: prof. Kristin Kuutma (Tartu Ülikool), kaasprof. Aivita Putniņa (University of Latvia)

Oponents: dr. Agita Lūse (Riia Stradiņši Ülikool, Läti), dr. Sonja Trifuljesko (Helsingi Ülikool, Soome)



Residential school has been part of Latvian education and social support systems for better part of Latvian history and has managed to survive several changes in historical and ideological situation. Despite this the institution has not garnered significant scholarly attention neither locally nor abroad. This is peculiar as the long and complex history of residential education points towards it as potential rich point for anthropological analysis. By carrying out ethnological analysis of residential school it becomes possible to engage both with large macroscopic perspectives such as historical analysis as well as engage with actors within the field on deeper level that might be missed by application of sociological perspective.

The aim of this thesis is to analyse the way how socioeconomic inequality is connected to different types of violence in a residential education context. I approached this question from the conceptual framework of viewing residential school as being enmeshed in several social fields and power relations. I applied multisited ethnographic approach in order to explore the various ways how residential education is realised in the local context through researching both the actual structure and relations within the institution as well as its historical situation and wider policies that connect to this field. This was complemented by anthropological analysis based in my own autoethnographic data. Finally, the historical analysis was necessary component of the research as both beneficial and problematic heritage forms basis of the contemporary residential school.

The study reveals that the residential school exists in a constant state of flux which is the result of both the actions of supervising actors and the decisions made by the staff members of the institution itself. The unstable position of residential education arises as a response to everchanging social conditions where the only constant is the presence of relationships of domination. The study demonstrates how these relationships contribute and maintain existence of constant reproduction of violence both on an individual and structural level to argue that in order to perceive the way how violence becomes mundane and accepted both subjective and objective perspectives and actions need to be considered. As this research revealed, it is neither the violence which creates the inequality nor vice versa but rather both exists in a symbiotic relationship where the presence of one demand and creates the presence of the other.

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