Forms of Attachment to a Home Country
Lithuanians in the USA
Avainsanat:Lithuanians in the USA, transmigration, ethnic symbols, home, nostalgia
This article looks at the ways Lithuanian emigrants in the U.S. experience attachment to their homeland. The text intends to conceptualize the importance of ethnicity, creation of emotional bond with the home country, fellow citizens, and the government. Empirical data were collected by the author of the article during the ethnographic fi eldtrip in the USA. A pilot fieldwork was conducted in March, 2007, on the West Coast, California: San Diego, Santa Monica, Los Angeles, Mission Viejo, and Orange County. The main field study was done in April-June, 2008, on the East Coast: New York (NY), Pittsfi eld (MA), Jersey City (NJ), Philadelphia (PA), Brattleboro (VT); and in the Central part: Chicago (IL). The last stage of the fi eldwork was completed in October-November, 2013, again, on the East Coast – in New York (NY). During the fi eldwork, “emic” data and visual recordings were collected through participant observation and qualitative semi-structured interviews. As the article points out, while living in the U.S., “Lithuanian” symbols help emigrants to maintain the transnational link with their country of origin allowing to create their private spaces of “home” where they feel safe and, sometimes, as if they have never left Lithuania. Despite the fact that Lithuanian Americans express predominantly negative attitudes toward their home country and people who remained there, it could not be argued that they have emotionally distanced themselves from their motherland in order to re-create their own identity by denying ethnic roots. Even negative narratives about Lithuania reveal the presence of nostalgia, the immigrants’ need to talk about Lithuania and the mass of questions that remain unanswered or unresolved.