Download A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet by Kate Brown PDF

By Kate Brown

It is a biography of a borderland among Russia and Poland, a sector the place, in 1925, humans pointed out as Poles, Germans, Jews, Ukrainians, and Russians lived facet through aspect. Over the subsequent 3 a long time, this mosaic of cultures was once modernized and homogenized out of life through the ruling may possibly of the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany, and eventually, Polish and Ukrainian nationalism. via the Fifties, this "no position" emerged as a Ukrainian heartland, and the fertile mixture of peoples that outlined the area used to be destroyed. Brown's research is grounded within the lifetime of the village and shtetl, within the personalities and small histories of way of life during this zone. In striking element, she records how those regimes, bureaucratically after which violently, separated, named, and regimented this elaborate group into specific ethnic teams. Drawing on lately opened documents, ethnography, and oral interviews that have been unavailable a decade in the past, A Biography of No position finds Stalinist and Nazi heritage from the point of view of the distant borderlands, hence bringing the outer edge to the heart 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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Sample text

They recorded workers, artisans, and craftsmen. They counted people “of the former classes” who were deprived of civil rights, such as former White Guard officers, former tsarist officials, gendarmes, and traders. And when they had finished counting, generating great charts decorated lavishly with percentages, they started all over again numbering people anew, this time by nationality. Jews were relatively easy to count. They were marked distinctly by religion and tsarist laws which had governed their movement and professions, restricting them to towns within the Pale of Settlement and barring them from government service.

The demise of the Polish nobility grew out of the Polish parliament’s contentious feuds, which weakened the Polish crown and army. The final blow came from within its own intermarrying family of Christian and European nobility. In the late eighteenth century, Russia, Prussia, and Austria partitioned the lands of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. During the reign of Catherine the Great, the Russian Empire annexed Right Bank Ukraine (lands west of the Dnepr River) and renamed it Western Russia.

A man pulled up and asked whether I wanted a ride. I took the ride, sitting on a plank behind his plank as he purred directions to his horse. The wagon rolled slowly in the bleached light of midday as if outside all time and destination. We glided along a forest of thin birches and through fields of waist-high green rye, emerging in a place which the driver said was a Czech village. He dropped me in the next village, a Ukrainian village called Ukrainka, which looked no different from the Czech village: more whitewashed cottages, neatly swept courtyards, fences of woven branches, every potato mound perfectly spaced.

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