Gražina Bielousova and the Responsibility of the Public Intellectual


The former pastor and current religion scholar at Duke University, North Carolina, remembers her childhood in 1990s Vilnius – the time when her Russian surname suddenly became a problem.

Gražina Bielousova has been living in the United States for nine years. She made a decision to share her thoughts publicly in the Lithuanian language and became a much needed progressive voice in the rather conservative Lithuanian media. Gražina is a contributor at NARA, and sharing her insightful, brave and well-researched essays.

"I need to be a public intellectual for the common good. I have been given the tremendous gift of 13 years of education. So what do I do with it?" she reflects in the NARA podcast conversation with Karolis Vyšniauskas as they speak in the city of Durham.

Last year on the January 13th Gražina wrote how she was bullied in school and called "occupier" because she had a Russian family name – even though her father was defending the parliament with hundreds of fellow Lithuanians. Many Russian-Lithuanians related to that experience. Some of her classmates apologized. After 30 years, the change was made.

"The story of independent Lithuania is complicated – and some of the complications collide in me“

This episode is a part of the series Rethinking Lithuania focusing on people who initiate progressive changes in Lithuanian society, despite not living here physically.

<p>Gražina Bielousova, religion scholar at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina where she lives and teaches. ©Karolis Vyšniauskas</p>

Gražina Bielousova, religion scholar at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina where she lives and teaches. ©Karolis Vyšniauskas

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Rethinking Lithuania project was made during the class of professor Elizabeth Spiers at Studio 20, NYU.

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