Conference Proceeding: Vilnius Jewish Public Library's Role in Modern Lithuanian Identity Building: From Exclusive to Inclusive

This presentation reveals the attempts of the library to influence the current national identity dynamics in turning its vectors into acceptance and integration through knowing and reflecting. It is being done by making the library an influential cultural actor. This paper demonstrates the agility of the tensions and changes in the evaluation of the past becoming a constituent of the present-day identity. In the context of global processes, Lithuanian society is undergoing changes in cultural, political and psychological identity. It is characteristic to constantly reflect and reevaluate the national history in the process of learning and discovering new denied facts during the years of the Soviet regime and by psychological self-defense mechanisms. We argue that preservation and restoration of the Jewish material and cultural legacy is important for society on its way to healing traumatic effects. Discussions about the significance and embodiment of the Jewish legacy serve as an indicator of society factions in relation to the issue but raise general awareness. Architectural discourse with the restored Great Vilna Synagogue and other monuments would contribute considerably to the connection of the past to the present day national self-identity building.

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