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Articles
Ethnical-nationalistic issues on the borderland of Eastern and Western Slavia...
By Sebastian Dubiel-Dmytryszyn
Published: 25.08.2011

     Jan Jacek Burski writes: “Rusynism” is a notion which has made a great career during the last few years. It became the synonym of a dynamic social movement and of the ideologies verifying a traditional claim that the national side of Central Europe has already become entirely formed and that the national building processes at that area have been completed. It does not mean that the discussed phenomenon or the notion “rusynism” itself are a novelty (1995). As Bogdan Horbal notices, even though it is difficult to trace the origins of a formation of the ideology of rusynophilism, its roots reach back at least to the 18th century. Generally speaking, this term ought to be understood as a cultural activity of the inhabitants of the Carpathian Mountains aiming at changing the Carpathian Ruthenians into a fully developed, modern nation (1997).
     The Carpathian Ruthenian movement has recently become a broadly discussed theme, as well in politics as in the scientific works. Particularly much space is devoted to the polemic between the Ruthenian leaders and the Ukrainian formations perceiving the movement as the "political rusynism", the separatism aiming at weakening the young Ukrainian nation.

    
Until recently we have had a gap, apart from several articles, in the field of social studies concerning the contemporary nature of the Carpathian Ruthenian movement. The gap was filled by Ewa Michna’s great scientific paper entitled “Ethnical-nationalistic issues on the borderland of Eastern and
Western Slavia. The Ruthenian movement in Slovakia, Ukraine and Poland.” Holding a degree in sociology, being the assistant professor at The Jagiellonian University Institute of Polish Diaspora and Ethnic Studies, Ewa Michna is also the author of a book “The Lemkos. An ethnic group or a nation?” and of the scientific articles concerning the issue of Lemkos community in Poland
and the ethnic issues.
    
In the work about the Ruthenian movement in Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine, Michna devotes the most space to the ethnical identity of Ruthenian leaders which is the key to understanding the essence of this movement. The linguistic issues, the leader’s national aspirations, and the discussion about the Carpathian Ruthenian’s right to national self-identification also occupy an important position in the paper. It enables us to look at the issue through the eyes of the leaders of the Ruthenian movement, including the Lemkos. The author tries to answer the questions: What are the historical sources of the Carpathian Ruthenian movement?; What caused the revival of this movement after the decline of communism?; What is the nature of the Ruthenian movement, is it the movement with a national or with a regional character?; Can we talk about the existence of one Ruthenian movement in all the investigated regions or rather about the Ruthenian movements with different goals and favoring different methods of work? Other questions remain: To what extent the national awareness of the leaders is sufficient to shape the nation and are there any other factors which are essential? And above all – how is the Ruthenian movement perceived by the group and to what extent does this group identify with the movement?  Is the cultural, not political, will of fight for one’s own autonomy sufficient and is it accepted by the community, what is the self-identification of the Carpathian Ruthenian nation? Can the subjective definition of a nation win and what can it bring, in the contemporary geopolitical system and cultural tendencies? What meaning can Carpathian Euroregion, which to a great extent embraces a territory historically inhabited by the Carpathian Ruthenians,  have in the future for the Ruthenian movement? Other questions remain, but there is also the scientific field whose beginning is the contribution of the work by Ewa Michna. The paper written by her is innovatory; it displays the reasoning of the Ruthenian movement’s leaders, ideologists and activists involved in the matters of their own group, aiming at stimulating the processes of creating the Carpathian Ruthenian nation. The analysis of the observed phenomena, symbolic texts, the group’s behavior, of what the Ruthenians do, not only of what they say, may seem to be a certain scarcity. Despite the visible shortcomings, the woman researcher cannot be denied her daring work, the ability to find oneself among the vibrant movement and its leaders, her not deprived of freshness attitude toward the occurring processes and at the same time her content-related background. There is no doubt that the Ruthenian leaders,  at least till the half of the 19th century, displayed tendencies to search for their own identity and self-identification relying on the cultural-ethnical specificity of their group. Together with democratization of the socio-political life in Slovakia, Ukraine and in Poland the Russian intelligentsia, who wanted to give their community the status of a nationality, appeared. It seems that the number of scientists claiming that ethnical processes currently taking place in the group of the Carpathian Ruthenians are marked by the national character increases. The name “new nation” may sound laconically, but it only means that the process of forming the nation has not been completed yet. It ought to be claimed that many irreversible processes have already taken place, and that a substantial group of the Ruthenians matured to feel a national consciousness. The protection of the Ruthenians from assimilation and from the complete denationalization is currently the biggest concern of the movement. This is the reason for the important actions aiming at the codification of the language and spreading it among the young people. With respect to the political conditioning,  the cultural-educational activity – so important for the preservation of identity – and directing the integrating initiatives marked by the socio-economic character at the bigger community  are the most successful. The latter would certainly strengthen the national consciousness of the Ruthenians. It remains a question whether this national consciousness will encompass the great part of the Ruthenian community. Much depends on how it will be served and whether it will comply with the present reality. Until recently we have had a gap, apart from several articles, in the field of social studies concerning the contemporary nature of the Carpathian Ruthenian movement. The gap was filled by Ewa Michna’s great scientific paper entitled “Ethnical-nationalistic issues on the borderland of Eastern and Western Slavia. The Ruthenian movement in Slovakia, Ukraine and Poland.” Holding a degree in sociology, being the assistant professor at The Jagiellonian University Institute of Polish Diaspora and Ethnic Studies, Ewa Michna is also the author of a book “The Lemkos. An ethnic group or a nation?” and of the scientific articles concerning the issue of Lemkos community in Poland and the ethnic issues. In the work about the Ruthenian movement in Poland, Slovakia, and Ukraine
, Michna devotes the most space to the ethnical identity of Ruthenian leaders which is the key to understanding the essence of this movement. The linguistic issues, the leader’s national aspirations, and the discussion about the Carpathian Ruthenian’s right to national self-identification also occupy an important position in the paper. It enables us to look at the issue through the eyes of the leaders of the Ruthenian movement, including the Lemkos. The author tries to answer the questions: What are the historical sources of the Carpathian Ruthenian movement?; What caused the revival of this movement after the decline of communism?; What is the nature of the Ruthenian movement, is it the movement with a national or with a regional character?; Can we talk about the existence of one Ruthenian movement in all the investigated regions or rather about the Ruthenian movements with different goals and favoring different methods of work? Other questions remain: To what extent the national awareness of the leaders is sufficient to shape the nation and are there any other factors which are essential? And above all – how is the Ruthenian movement perceived by the group and to what extent does this group identify with the movement?  Is the cultural, not political, will of fight for one’s own autonomy sufficient and is it accepted by the community, what is the self-identification of the Carpathian Ruthenian nation? Can the subjective definition of a nation win and what can it bring, in the contemporary geopolitical system and cultural tendencies? What meaning can Carpathian Euroregion, which to a great extent embraces a territory historically inhabited by the Carpathian Ruthenians,  have in the future for the Ruthenian movement? Other questions remain, but there is also the scientific field whose beginning is the contribution of the work by Ewa Michna. The paper written by her is innovatory; it displays the reasoning of the Ruthenian movement’s leaders, ideologists and activists involved in the matters of their own group, aiming at stimulating the processes of creating the Carpathian Ruthenian nation. The analysis of the observed phenomena, symbolic texts, the group’s behavior, of what the Ruthenians do, not only of what they say, may seem to be a certain scarcity. Despite the visible shortcomings, the woman researcher cannot be denied her daring work, the ability to find oneself among the vibrant movement and its leaders, her not deprived of freshness attitude toward the occurring processes and at the same time her content-related background. 
     There is no doubt that the Ruthenian leaders,  at least till the half of the 19th century, displayed tendencies to search for their own identity and self-identification relying on the cultural-ethnical specificity of their group. Together with democratization of the socio-political life in
Slovakia, Ukraine and in Poland
the Russian intelligentsia, who wanted to give their community the status of a nationality, appeared. It seems that the number of scientists claiming that ethnical processes currently taking place in the group of the Carpathian Ruthenians are marked by the national character increases. The name “new nation” may sound laconically, but it only means that the process of forming the nation has not been completed yet. It ought to be claimed that many irreversible processes have already taken place, and that a substantial group of the Ruthenians matured to feel a national consciousness. The protection of the Ruthenians from assimilation and from the complete denationalization is currently the biggest concern of the movement. This is the reason for the important actions aiming at the codification of the language and spreading it among the young people. With respect to the political conditioning,  the cultural-educational activity – so important for the preservation of identity – and directing the integrating initiatives marked by the socio-economic character at the bigger community  are the most successful. The latter would certainly strengthen the national consciousness of the Ruthenians. It remains a question whether this national consciousness will encompass the great part of the Ruthenian community. Much depends on how it will be served and whether it will comply with the present reality.
Sebastian Dubiel-Dmytryszyn
translated by Joanna Hardukiewicz

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