Rusyns of the Carpathians : competing agendas of identity
Thesis (M.A.)--Georgetown University, 2010.; Includes bibliographical references.; Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format. This thesis examines the cultural revival and nation-building movement of the Rusyns, an East Slavic ethnic group whose homeland along the Carpathians straddles the border between the former Soviet Union and the European Union. While in the 19th century and again after World War I, Rusyns launched national movements, they never gained statehood as did other neighboring nations. Instead, Rusyns remain divided among several European states. During communist rule, they were officially classified as Ukrainians, their closest ethnic neighbors. After the Revolutions of 1989 and the subsequent demise of the Soviet Union, however, the Rusyns have emerged as a cohesive group recognized officially as a national minority in all the countries where they live except for Ukraine. The new Rusyn national movement brought about the revival of an identity once considered irretrievably outdated by reviving Rusyn language, engaging with the nations around them, and creating international organizations to unite all Rusyns.; This question is explored here through the lens of liberal nationalism theory, especially as formulated by Yael Tamir, who argues that nations are defined culturally and that a stateless people may achieve self-determination when they live in a state whose institutions provide recognition and space for them to develop unhindered. To examine the extent to which liberal nationalism applies to the Rusyn movement of today and how it competes with other concepts of nationalism among Rusyns and their neighbors, a variety of sources are utilized in this thesis: personal interviews with Rusyns in Slovakia, Serbia, and Ukraine, written histories, demographic data, and analysis of news and social media. The thesis covers four major areas of exploration. The first chapter discusses the history of past Rusyn national movements and the reasons for their failures. The second looks at the official ukrainianization policies of the communist era and their effect on identity and the motivation of those who later became Rusyn activists. The third chapter considers the links between language and nationalism in the Rusyn movement and the important motivating force of the American diaspora. The fourth investigates the unique political and social contexts of individual states where Rusyns live and how this affects their opportunities, goals, and challenges. The case of Rusyns in Ukraine's Transcarpathia and their unique political history are given particular consideration.; In conclusion, Rusyns today have a unique opportunity to develop a thriving nation by applying the principles of liberal nationalism. The European Union has made a genuine contribution to the Rusyns in the arena of cultural preservation in its efforts to curb the marginalization of national minorities and promoting diversity as a value. At the same time, Rusyns in Transcarpathia face a difficult political situation which involves them not only in a struggle to define their own identity against Ukrainian national identity, but also involves them in Ukraine's efforts to define and consolidate its own national identity against Russia's resistance to its independence. The combination of historical factors that create a memory of autonomous rule in the region and a closer connection to the problems of Russian and Ukrainian identity have contributed to making dialog and negotiation more difficult as Rusyns work to be recognized in Ukraine. Nevertheless, the small but steady successes of some Rusyn activists in Transcarpathia who reject more fiery nationalist rhetoric and territorial claims that may be perceived to threaten Ukraine show that even there the principles of liberal nationalism may succeed. Ukrainians and Rusyns share the goal of moving closer to Europe. Embracing the values that guide the positive development of Europe's minority policies can thus unite Rusyns as a nation, repair their history of marginalization, and peacefully gain them a place among the peoples of Europe.
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