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Letter by the organizers of the 6th Baltic Summer School of Anthropology (25-28 August 2022)

The summer school is over, and we are just so overwhelmed and grateful for all the people we had, all the places we visited and all the events that took place! This were the questions we tackled:

Why do people care about ‘good’ food? Who can nurture our communities (has food sovereignty)? Since the 1970s, multinational corporations like Unilever and supermarket chains like LIDL began to globalize: As “value chain drivers”, they outsourced food production to ever more external producers, while keeping in-house the strategic research & development and the profitable marketing. Along such globalizing food chains, we may distinguish eleven links: science and technology, extraction, production, processing, packaging, logistics, finance, wholesale, retail, marketing and consumption. Concerned about health and safety, environmental issues, financialization and societal inequality, counter movements have proposed a quality turn or short food chain initiatives. But like all successful systems, corporate food began to assimilate these alternatives, attempting to transform them into market segments for an affluent, discerning clientele.


The event has hosted 40 B.A., M.A. and PhD students who presented their research, attended seminars, and participated in small group-fieldwork with different actors along the food chain like scientists, producers, processors and traders from Cesis. The idea was to strengthen the participants’ practical knowledge and strategic thinking about the nexus between climate crisis and food sovereignty. It brought together students and scholars from the Baltics, Czech Republic, Germany, Europe and beyond, who study social anthropology and related disciplines for networking and initiating future collaboration.

The subsidized participation fee was 80EUR. Students from the Baltic states qualified for a further 25% reduction (60EUR). This fee included an academic programme, lodging in a shared dormitory room, and full board (breakfast, lunch and dinner).


As in the previous summer schools, the venue was the Rucka Artist Residency in Cesis, Latvia, a beautiful manor hidden in the middle of Cesis, a vibrant medieval Latvian town placed in the center of Gauja National Park – the oldest and largest natural park in the country. Rucka hosts various artist residency projects, academic summer schools and symposiums. For more information, see: http://www.rucka.lv/en/. The weather was great and so all presentations were held outside. On the evening of Saturday, 27.8. we also joined the MALA street-festival in the center of the old town.


First of all we want to say huge thank you to all the participants, all of the lecturers we had this year, and all the Cesis workshop hosts from Cēsu Maize (bakery), Labas saknes (producer of veggie snacks), Smilga cakes&wine (pastry shop), Cēsu Pluriversitāte (environmental learning place and garden under the blue sky), Trimpus (craft brewery), local supermarket Solo and Cesis farmer’s market, and Vides risinājumu institūts (private food and environmental research institute)!

We are humbled by the bright and awesome people from 11(!!) countries that were part of this amazing summer school! We are thankful to our lecturers Mikelis Grivins, Sandra Calkins, Bertram Turner, Daniela Ana, Nicolette Makovicky, Ester Bardone, Eugenijus Liutkevičius, Agnese Bankovska, Guntra Aistara, Paride Bolletin, Agnese Gaidelione and Māris Jansons.


Additionally, we say thank you to our partners from the Baltic-German University Liaison Office, Cesis municipality, Rīgas Stradiņa universitāte (Riga Stradins University) and Latvian Association of Anthropologists - Latvijas Antropologu biedrība – without you all it wouldn’t have been possible!

We are also so very happy about our team where students and scholars from both Riga Stradiņš University and University of Latvia were working together flawlessly. We – Elizabete Grinblate, Ilze Mileiko, Laura Cipruse, Liene Rācene-Riekstiņa, Egils Stūrmanis, Līvis Lāma and Martins Bitans, the team of organizers – salute to our team leader Andre Thiemann for his never ending sparks of inspiration!

Special thanks to our great chef Oleg Serafimov and his team for making this even more pleasurable.


Last not least, a sample of feedback from our participants, answering which part of the program they liked best or inspired them most: “The main lectures and the [fieldwork] workshop”; “The venue and fieldwork. As well as fieldwork presentations”; “Meeting the people and informal conversations/ discussions! Learning and sharing experiences with peers (particularly other ‘beginner’ anthropologists) is very useful”; “Plenty of space for questions and discussions after the presentations (discussions were great). The possibility to present my student research - the feedback was incredibly valuable and it helped me greatly with my work. Loved the Mala festival as well as an opportunity to spend some time together outside of ‘school’ surroundings. I loved the sheep noises during the presentations as well.” For future summer schools, participants expressed the wish that the program could be a bit longer (5 days instead of 4), allowing more time for teaching and breakout sessions and more open space/free time (e.g. longer lunch breaks, more fieldwork, or explorations of the city).

Thank you all, Viva la Rucka, it’s been a ride!

For more information on the summer school, its problem statement, lecturers, and a sample of pictures from the event, visit https://www.facebook.com/BSSoA/.


The organizers of BSSA 2022.