Visual Data in the Research of Tradition: Using Photo-Elicitation Method in the Study of the Intermediate Period of the Latvian Song and Dance Festivals

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal 13 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Anda LAKE, Latvian Academy of Culture, Latvia
Liga GRINBERGA, Latvian Academy of Culture, Latvia
The Latvian Song and Dance Festival is traditional cultural mega-event that has taken place in Latvia since 1873 and has been recognized as an important expression of the nation's culture and cultural heritage. The Festival is included in the Representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO together with resembling festivals of the other Baltic States. As nation's tradition it embraces thousands of people taking part in highly developed amateur art movement. As there have been public discussions of the future scenarios of this tradition, researchers are focusing to define preconditions of preserving and criteria for continuity of the Festival in a changing and innovative environment. The Festival takes place every five years, thus attention is particularly on the intermediate period between festivals and daily practices of the amateur art movement and participants individual motivation to inheriting the tradition. Theoretical foundation of the research is based on tradition perceived as cultural strategy with specific goals and impacts to sustain social identities and connections using symbolic communication. (Bronner, 2011). The research objective is to identify individual and community practices, internal and external models of symbolic communication of participants and to establish coherence to mechanisms to safeguard tradition in the intermediate period between festivals, when the authority of the tradition is decreased. Empirical study is based on participatory forms of visual research methods, revealing dimensions of the data difficult to obtain from traditional research strategies in social sciences (Hughes, 2012). To analyze daily routine of participants, there has been applied photo-elicitation strategy to procure meaningful information from subject with the use of visual stimulation (Margolis and Pauwels, 2011). Findings reveal aspects and symbolic meanings important to participants, nevertheless it indicates to the responsibility of the whole community to sustain the tradition in the intermediate period of the Festival.