Publication Date

Summer 2016

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Dr. Michael Ann Williams (Director), Dr. Ann Ferrell, Dr. Timothy Evans, and Dr. Kate Horigan

Degree Program

Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology

Degree Type

Master of Arts


In 2011, following several years of in-country research, I published a book on Lithuanian folk pottery. I enrolled in the Folk Studies master’s program at Western Kentucky University (WKU) in 2014, well after my research and book had been completed. In the present study, I use my newly acquired knowledge of folklore In my previous work to revisit Lithuanian folk pottery.

In my previous work, I had sought to create a picture of “authentic” Lithuanian folk pottery that was confined to the narrow temporal borders of 1861-1918. Here I deconstruct conventional ideas about authenticity, as well as culture and heritage, in order to expand my study to three additional periods: the interwar period of independence (1918-1940), the Soviet period (1940-1990), and the post-Soviet period (1990-present).

Examining additional epochs of folk pottery production, I search for the commonalities and continuities binding together both objects and makers through seemingly disparate eras marked by dramatic political, social, and economic ruptures. To do this I examine the interconnected roles of political ideology, revised historical narratives, cultural policy, socio-economics, and concepts of cultural identity. Sifting through these various facets of national identity, I ultimately find that it is in the consistent nature of the adaptations that folk potters and artists make to the dramatically changing circumstances where consistent patterns are found. It is in these circumstances that people must survive, as individuals, a culture, and a nation.

This study relies upon three central components: My previous research, texts related to folklore and cultural theory, and a wealth of new interviews conducted in Lithuania between September and November of 2015. Utilizing these tools, I move beyond my previous aim of reconstructing a period of history to engaging with art and culture as living, dynamic phenomena that are ever-changing and present but which possess roots in history and tradition.


Archaeological Anthropology | Ceramic Arts | Folklore | Other History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Social and Cultural Anthropology