Latvia presents a unique and counterintuitive case in the history of postsocialist ethnic relations. Despite the USSR's having annexed Latvia by fiat and armed force in the 1940s—and despite the population transfers of so many Russians and other Soviet peoples to the region that Latvians themselves nearly became an ethnic minority in “their own” republic—there has been no ethnic violence between Latvians and Russians in the postsocialist era. Yet the events of summer 2014 have radically shifted the political imaginary of this region, raising the specter of a loss of social cohesion and an eruption of violence. The essay examines one of the factors that has supported amity in Latvia for the past two decades: late-Soviet cosmopolitanism and its legacies in present-day Latvian cultural life. Analysis focuses on public art projects in Riga during the summer of 2014, in the shadow of the war in Ukraine.

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