Institute of Lithuanian Literature and Folklore
Neither Self nor Other: Zero Identity in the Contemporary Baltic (E)migrant Literature
Using imagology as a representational strategy, the article focuses on the unique potential of the 21st century Lithuanian and Latvian émigré literature to provide an overview of the images that encode the contemporary dislocated identity. The introductory part traces an epistemological shift from the hybrid identity, common to the Baltic post-war émigrés, towards the zero identity, imanent to contemporary emigrants. The analytical part examines undefined states of the emigrants, such as being in mental and social limbo, lack of any attachment and holistic anonimity. Applying broad metaphors saturated with imagological content, Lithuanian and Latvian émigré writers document constant tension between the subject’s inner “self”, the physical body and its visible representation. Having analysed the multitude of literary images encoding intermediate states and/or distorted reality (airport, suitcase, mirror, computer screen, mask, fake passport) and manifestations of social unattachment (freeganism, squatting, excessive drinking as an identity-erasing practice) the conclusion is drawn that zeroness is a permanent and fundamental state defining the identity of the contemporary Baltic emigrants.
Key Words: imagology, zero identity, emigration, Lithuanian literature, Latvian literature