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Slavic Identities: Peoples, Languages, and Religions. Laura A. Janda janda@unc.edu www.unc.edu/~lajanda. Overall Distribution of Slavic Peoples in Europe. You are what you speak. Language is closely tied with identity Political borders do not always correspond to linguistic borders

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slavic identities peoples languages and religions

Slavic Identities: Peoples, Languages, and Religions

Laura A. Janda

janda@unc.edu

www.unc.edu/~lajanda

you are what you speak
You are what you speak
  • Language is closely tied with identity
  • Political borders do not always correspond to linguistic borders
  • Religious borders also play an important role
  • Language can both unify and divide peoples
can you name the slavic languages1
Can you name the Slavic languages?
  • North Slavic
    • Russian, Belorusian, Ukrainian
  • West Slavic
    • Polish, Czech, Slovak, Upper&Lower Sorbian
  • South Slavic
    • Slovene, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, Bulgarian
  • Note how former Soviet Union, Soviet Bloc, and former Yugoslavia divided up this territory
who are the slavs neighbors
Who are the Slavs’ neighbors?
  • Indo-European:
    • Speakers of German, Greek, Albanian, Romanian, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Italian, plus Romany
  • Non-Indo European:
    • Speakers of Hungarian, Estonian, Finnish, and Turkish, plus Caucasian and Central Asian languages
the cyrillic alphabet
The Cyrillic Alphabet
  • Actually the second alphabet of the Slavs
  • Invented in the tenth century
  • Modeled primarily after Greek capital letters
  • Associated with Orthodox (Byzantine) Christianity
the alphabetic divide
Western Christianity & Latin Alphabet:

Poland

Czech Republic

Slovakia

Slovenia

Croatia

Eastern Christianity & Cyrillic Alphabet:

Russia

Belarus

Ukraine

Serbia

Macedonia

Bulgaria

The Alphabetic Divide
megali idea
Megali Idea
  • Most nations (not just Slavic ones) have some “memory” of a time when their borders were at their largest.
  • These nations see these remembered borders as vital to their identity and seek to regain them.
  • These remembered borders overlap and do not contain a homogeneous population, motivating “ethnic cleansing”.
poland
Poland
  • Primarily Catholic, previously had a significant Jewish minority (birthplace of Yiddish)
  • 1385 -- Polish union with Lithuania -- administrative language is Latin
  • 16th-17th centuries -- Polish used alongside Latin
poland cont d
Poland, cont’d.
  • 1795 -- Poland partitioned among Russia, Prussia, and Austria
  • Poland ceased to exist for 123 years, during which time harsh policies established German & Russian as administrative languages
  • Intelligentsia & Catholic Church helped maintain Polish language & identity
  • Polish state reborn at end of WWI with minorities of Ukrainians, Ruthenians, Jews, Belarusians, Germans
poland cont d1
Poland, cont’d.
  • WWII Nazi occupation reduced minorities via extermination & population transfers
  • Ethnic groups in present-day Poland: Lemkos (Ruthenians), Roma, Kashubians (330,000 speakers, status is controversial)
slovakia
Slovakia
  • Historically part of Hungary
  • Used Czech as their literary language until mid-19th century
  • 1843 Stur’s grammar launches Slovak national movement.
  • After 1867, Austro-Hungarian Magyarization suppresses Slovak
slovakia cont d
Slovakia, cont’d.
  • 1939 Slovakia yields to Nazi Germany
  • 1944 Restoration of Czechoslovakia
  • 1948 Communists come to power
  • 1960s Campaign against “bourgeois” (aka Slovak) nationalism & antireligious campaign targets Slovaks
  • Reforms after 1968 favored Slovaks
  • Since 1993: Independent Slovakia with Hungarian and Roma minorities, Slovak linguistic purism
czech lands
Czech lands
  • 9th century -- Mission of SS. Cyril & Methodius -- Czechs are the first Slavs to gain literacy
  • Political independence dates to 10th century, when the Czech lands were part of the Holy Roman Empire
czech lands cont d
Czech lands, cont’d.
  • Charles IV 1346-1378 King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emporer founded Charles U. (Carolina!), the oldest university north of the Alps
  • 1415 Jan Hus is burned at the stake, ushering in the Reformation and Hussite wars
  • 1526, Ferdinand I, a Hapsburg, becomes King of Bohemia, and ultimately Austria and Hungary as well, ushering in 400 years of Hapsburg rule
  • 1618 Hapsburg repressions incite Prague defenestration, 30 year war
czech lands cont d1
Czech lands, cont’d.
  • Two centuries of decline and oppression, with German as the only official language
  • 1809 Josef Dobrovsky’s Czech grammar helps to launch Czech National Revival
czech lands cont d2
Czech lands, cont’d.
  • 1918 “The First Republic” and tensions between the 3M Germans and 7M Czechs in Bohemia
  • 1938 Munich
  • After WWII, Benes decrees forced most Germans out
  • 1948 Communists come to power
  • 1968 Prague Spring and August invasion
  • 1989 Velvet Revolution
  • 1993 Velvet Divorce
some conclusions concerning central europe
Some Conclusions concerning Central Europe
  • Central Europe was dominated by others: Hapsburgs, Russian Empire, Prussia, Austro-Hungary
  • Enlightenment inspired educated classes to pursue nationalism
  • The rise of ethno-nationalism in Central Europe hampered a process of assimilation of different ethnic groups into bigger national entities
some conclusions concerning central europe cont d
Some Conclusions concerning Central Europe, cont’d.
  • After WWI new states emerged based on language and ethnicity
  • After WWII communists came to power
  • The fall of communist regimes created a vacuum filled by ethno-nationalism
  • Language has been extremely important for identity and nationhood
  • Central Europe has been homogenized to maximize linguistic and national identity through genocide, population exchanges, etc.
slavs in the balkans
Slavs in the Balkans
  • Bulgaria, Macedonia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, Slovenia
  • Balkan states succumbed to dictatorships in inter-war period
  • Balkan states were reconstructed by communists after WWII
the former serbo croatian
The Former Serbo-Croatian
  • Goes by many names, including “bezimeni jezik”
  • Written with two alphabets
  • Used for worship in three major religions
  • Interlaced with several other languages (Hungarian, Romany, and dialects related to Romanian)
federal republic of yugoslavia serbia montenegro
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia(Serbia-Montenegro)
  • Includes Kosovo, which is 90% Albanian
  • Serb nationalism suppressed under Tito.
  • Milosevic cast Albanians as oppressors in late 1980s (600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Polje), and attempted to have them removed.
  • Montenegrans try to assert separate language & identity.
bosnia hercegovina
Bosnia-Hercegovina
  • Contains Muslims, Orthodox, and Catholics
  • 1991 census: 44% Muslim, 32% Serb, 17% Croat, 7% Yugoslav
  • 1992 war destroyed ethnic fabric of Bosnia
croatia
Croatia
  • Unrest makes figures on ethnic composition unreliable
  • Conflicts with Serbs, many of whom have fled
  • State is now relatively homogeneous
slovenia
Slovenia
  • Ethnically & politically the most stable state in the Balkans
  • 1.7 M:
    • 88% Slovene
    • 2% Serb
    • 3% Croat
    • 1% Muslim
    • 0.6% Yugoslav
bulgaria
Bulgaria
  • 8.5 M people
    • 85% ethnic Bulgarian
    • 9% Turkish
    • 300,000 Roma
    • 14,000 Armenian
  • 1984 attempt to forcibly “Bulgarize” the Turks led to international criticism
  • Tension with Macedonia
macedonia fyrom
Macedonia(FYROM)
  • 1912 Annexed by Serbia
  • Macedonian Republic established 1946
  • 2M, over 1/4 of these are Albanian
ideologies of nationalism in the balkans
Ideologies of Nationalism in the Balkans
  • Post-Communist nationalisms have aimed for greater national homogeneity, often via ethnic cleansing
  • Magnification of linguistic differences for political purposes
  • Anti-democratic, narrow constructions of identity privilege “ethnicity” over region, religion, human rights, shared histories, and even shared languages.
slavs in the former soviet union
Slavs in the Former Soviet Union
  • Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine
  • Russia is the largest sovereign state on earth, and contains great linguistic and ethnic diversity
  • All 3 had significant Jewish minorities drastically reduced by pogroms, massacres, and emigration
russia
Russia
  • 989 Kievan Rus converted to Christianity
  • Capital moved to Moscow undr Ivan the Terrible
  • 1453 Russia became the protector of Orthodoxy (“Third Rome”) after Fall of Constantinople.
russia cont d
Russia, cont’d.
  • 17th-19th centuries -- vast expansion to incorporate Siberia, Belarus, Ukraine, part of Poland, and Baltics
  • Catherine the Great through Romanov dynasty -- consistent policy of enforced Russification -- Russian becomes lingua franca of the area
  • Russian chauvinism continued in Soviet period, and most non-Russian languages suffered serious decline
belarus
Belarus
  • Belarusian language codified 1906-14
  • 78% Belarusian, 13% Russian
  • But Belarus was intensively Russified, and most Belarusians are more comfortable with Russian than with Belarusian
ukraine
Ukraine
  • Ukrainian language codified 19th C
  • 73% Ukrainian, 22% Russian
  • Complex situation, since many dialects are very close to Russian, many people are bilingual, and there are also close ties to Poland
former soviet union conclusions
Former Soviet Union: Conclusions
  • Russia heavily dominates the area
  • Other identities are weakly felt or suppressed
  • Economic decline presents a potential problem that could be exploited by nationalists