Artificial Plurality or National Indifference?

Martin Rohde, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Institut für Geschichte

Abstract: Artificial Plurality or National Indifference? How to Deal with Borderland Minorities in the ‘Western Ukrainian Borderlands’, 1880–1939

This paper discusses competing macro-narratives on the population of the Eastern Carpathians in transition from the late prewar to the early interwar period. I will argue how the ethnographic curiosity of the 19th century produced categories used for self-empowerment in the interwar period.

Lemkos, Boykos, Hutsuls were intensely researched by scholars interested in Ethnography, Linguistics, Slavic and Ukrainian Studies since the late 19th century. The ‘Ruthenian highlanders’ and the lands they inhibited were considered national frontiers since the late 19th century. All of them transcended the administrative borders of Austria and Hungary, as they belonged to Eastern Galicia, four Countries in Northeastern Hungary and Northern Bukowina. During the interwar period, the regions split between Poland and Czechoslovakia, the South of the Hutsul region belonged to Northern Romania. The Ukrainian project concurred with the Russophile movement and local Rusyn identity projects in Poland as well as in Czechoslovakia. These nationalizing states, however, had distinct interests to integrate the highlanders into their own vision of the state territory. At the same time, Lemkos, Boykos and Hutsuls formed own associations and museums to represent their own local culture in contrast to the competing national and imperial visions for their borderland territories.