By Kate Brown
It is a biography of a borderland among Russia and Poland, a area the place, in 1925, humans pointed out as Poles, Germans, Jews, Ukrainians, and Russians lived part by way of part. Over the following 3 many years, this mosaic of cultures used to be modernized and homogenized out of life by means of the ruling may perhaps of the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany, and at last, Polish and Ukrainian nationalism. by means of the Fifties, this "no position" emerged as a Ukrainian heartland, and the fertile mixture of peoples that outlined the quarter was once destroyed. Brown's examine is grounded within the lifetime of the village and shtetl, within the personalities and small histories of lifestyle during this quarter. In awesome aspect, she files how those regimes, bureaucratically after which violently, separated, named, and regimented this elaborate neighborhood into designated ethnic teams. Drawing on lately opened files, ethnography, and oral interviews that have been unavailable a decade in the past, A Biography of No position unearths Stalinist and Nazi background from the point of view of the distant borderlands, hence bringing the outer edge to the guts of historical past. we're given, briefly, an intimate portrait of the ethnic purification that has marked all of Europe, in addition to a glimpse on the margins of twentieth-century "progress."
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Extra info for A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland
The first—bourgeois nationalism—produced high culture connected with religion, bourgeois art, and literature, and generated the kind of exclusive nationalist feeling that divided people and fueled wars. 22 Poles presented a troubling problem for communists. True, they had been oppressed during the tsarist period, exiled, imprisoned, forced into poverty and Russified, but at the same time Poles had also been the traditional landowning exploiters of the kresy. Polish nobility had long been the most nationalist in its yearning to reunite the scattered remnants of the Polish Commonwealth, and Poles in the Russian Empire were known for their religious devotion and conflation of the Catholic religion with the Polish nation.
9 They proposed to establish, along the newly created Polish-Soviet border, a Polonized autonomous region which would serve as an example for Polish workers and farmers to the west of the border, as it developed independently a proletarian society based on Polish culture. By 1925 the idea was brought to life. The Marchlevsk Autonomous Polish Region was founded in the borderlands, a place considered the most backward, poor, and un-revolutionary part of Ukraine. The subjects of the national minority experiment were villagers and townspeople who lived in the isolated, hard-to-reach periphery.
Around the new farms they built religious communities that lived peaceably with the surrounding villages of peasants. By the onset of the Russian Revolution, the upholstered existence of Polish landowners had already faded. From 1914 to 1921, during the seven long years of world war, revolution, and civil war, invading armies continually occupied the kresy. Each successive army ground a boot heel deeper into the already sullied fabric of the old feudal society that had once divided people by confession and landholding but had been crumbling for a century.
A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland by Kate Brown