Photo from the archive of Diaspora Studies Centre
Vytautas Kavolis‘ heritage of his intellectual activity left a deep imprint in the development of science and culture. Undoubtedly, he is one of the most famous 20th century Lithuanian intellectuals able to reconcile the parallels of academic and social activities. The need to conteptualize social and cultural boundaries determined V. Kavolis‘ interests covering scientific ideas of sociology, anthropology, cultural studies and philosophy.
Born and grown up in Kaunas in the years 1936-1944 V. Kavolis attended Kaunas Catholic school. Under unfavorable circumstances in 1944 together with his parents he emigrated to the West. He graduated gymnasium in Germany, and since 1949 studied in the United States – Wisconsin, Chicago, Harward universities, where he studied sociology and anthropology also gained teacher‘s experience V. Kavolis is known as a longtime Dickinson College professor in sociology and comparative civilization studies. Since 1978 he worked as an editor in „Comparative Civilisations Review“ and research worker in „Encyclopaedia Britanica“. Feeling moral responsibility commitment V. Kavolis also took part in Lithuanian public and cultural life. When Lithuania regained independence, in 1992 V. Kavolis has been visiting professor at Vytautas Magnus University where he had a course of cultural history and sociology, conducted seminars. In 1993 the professor was awarded Lithuanian National Prize for Culture and Arts for his books „Awareness trajectories: aspects of Lithuanian cultural modernization“ (1991 ) and „ Signatures of epochs“ (1991).
V. Kavolis existential and cultural ideas were the basis and intellectual support for the organisation „Santara-Šviesa“; these ideas certainly inspired numerous author‘s articles in the journal „Metmenys“, mainly on cultural and political issues (V. Kavolis edited the journal in the years 1959–1996).
Live and relevant V. Kavolis ideas reflect not only in numerous of his scholarly works, but also directly influence today‘s intellectual society. Great attention was given to the preservation and commemoration of V. Kavolis scientific heritage. Vytautas Magnus University keeps a collection of V. Kavolis personal library, and in 2001, March 9 in one of Žaliakalnis streets the memorial plaque was opened on the house (Tulpių St. 22) where he lived in 1939-1944.