Eduardas Volteris in the Milieu of the Founders of the University of Lithuania and Their Cultural Relations

  • Romualdas Juzefovičius
Keywords: Eduardas Volteris, Lithuanian scholars, public education, history of Kaunas


The aim of the article is to analyse and evaluate the contribution of Professor Eduardas Volteris (1856–1941), an archaeologist, ethnographer, folklore writer, and bibliographer, in the development of cultural relations and cultural expression of the Lithuanian academic intelligentsia in independent Lithuania. The sources analysed in the article evidence the significance of Eduardas Volteris’s organisational and research work in the process of the establishment of higher education in independent Lithuania between 1920 and 1922. His ambition to prioritise the humanities in higher education in Lithuania, his initiative to promote academic relations of the evolving academic community, and his wish to support the cultural transnationalism greatly benefited the development of the cultural perspective in independent Lithuania. Eduardas Volteris sought that the studies of general global humanities at the newly- established Lithuanian University be linked with the nurturing of Lithuanian cultural heritage and its dissemination. It was thanks to the implementation of these attitudes voiced by Eduardas Volteris and other intellectuals that the Faculty of Humanities of the University of Lithuania became an important basis for the development of cultural identity in the society. Prof. Volteris attempted to involve the professors and students of Kaunas in heritage studies and public cultural life. Volteris’s experience in and contribution to the organisation of academic and cultural cooperation was extensive. The professor encouraged the establishment and activities of the Lithuanian-Latvian Unity Society, a cultural relations organisation. Although the organisation was not numerous, its activities helped to expand the cultural contacts of the academic community not only in the Baltic region; it also took part in international intellectual and cultural organisations and facilitated the dissemination of different cultures in Lithuania. Eduardas Volteris was interested not only in the culture of the city, the land, and the people, in the names of the mounds, the local language. His cultural research was also linked to the cultural policy of the modern state, the ambition to understand the characteristics of modernity through the people’s attitudes and culture. Volteris can be attributed to the elite of the creators of collective historical and cultural memory in the edification of the Lithuanian public. The participation of the academic intelligentsia in the development of the historical self-awareness of the society was crucial has been throughout the years of existence of independent Lithuania. The impact of scholars in the field of mass cultural expression has become particularly relevant in the current context of new geopolitical tensions, Russia’s growing imperial ideology, and its policy of direct aggression, which is based on its own constructed narrative of history. In this contemporary context, Eduardas Volteris’s aspirations and the work he started in modernising Lithuania between the two world wars remain a source of valuable experience.