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The Making Of A Borderland

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Chapter Summary

Belarus occupies a somewhat ambiguous position vis-a-vis Europe. This chapter looks at the development of the institutions associated with modernity: the state, the ruling elites, the public intellectuals, the economy. The Soviet period of Belarus's history clearly holds a privileged position in the legitimation system of modern Belarus. The chapter addresses the question: was there a period in Belarus's history when comparable processes of institutional change and national formation produced institutions relevant for the modern nation-state and at the same time possessing Belarusian national character. Belarus entered the "long 19th century" as a part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, a unique multiethnic conglomerate where local roots of the educated elite were just as important as their cultural ties to Poland and, through Poland, to Europe. Belarus ended the "long 19th century" as a separate nation, with an identifiable culture, nationally-informed civil society, national mythology and aspirations of independent nationhood.

Keywords: Belarus; Belarusian-Polish dichotomy; Eurasian borderlands; European neighborhoods; Grand Duchy of Lithuania

10.1163/ej.9789004174481.i-239.6
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