By Kate Brown
It is a biography of a borderland among Russia and Poland, a quarter the place, in 1925, humans pointed out as Poles, Germans, Jews, Ukrainians, and Russians lived part by way of facet. Over the subsequent 3 many years, this mosaic of cultures was once modernized and homogenized out of life through the ruling may of the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany, and eventually, Polish and Ukrainian nationalism. by way of the Fifties, this "no position" emerged as a Ukrainian heartland, and the fertile mixture of peoples that outlined the quarter was once destroyed. Brown's examine is grounded within the lifetime of the village and shtetl, within the personalities and small histories of way of life during this quarter. In striking element, she records how those regimes, bureaucratically after which violently, separated, named, and regimented this complicated group into special ethnic teams. Drawing on lately opened information, ethnography, and oral interviews that have been unavailable a decade in the past, A Biography of No position unearths Stalinist and Nazi historical past from the viewpoint of the distant borderlands, therefore bringing the outer edge to the guts 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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Additional info for A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland
Investigators went from location to location reporting that no two villages were alike; each place contained a different blend of language, ethnicity, and social composition. Village council chairmen said they had no Poles in their village, but they did have a large number of “Ukrainian Catholics,” which made no sense to anyone at the Polish Bureau because everyone knew Poles were Roman Catholics while Ukrainians followed the Eastern Rite. 52 Meanwhile, other villagers described themselves as szlachta, Polish gentry, but said they had forgotten the Polish language and wanted a Polish school to help remember it.
There is absolutely no existing building for a regional administration. . ”18 He went on to report that forty percent of the territory of the proposed region was marshy, sandy soil and thin pine forests, soil not suitable for farming. The region was situated one hundred and twenty kilometers from the Polish-Soviet border and half that distance from the largest city, Zhytomyr. 19 In 1925, three thousand people lived in Dovbysh. The majority were Polish and Ukrainian workers in the porcelain factory, who kept small farms on the side.
A group of men and women are lying on hay bales, wearing winter sheepskins or furs. The hay seems a prop, a way to show the homey, rustic quality of the event, while the faces look urban. The men’s hair is carefully parted down the middle and slicked. Some wear suits of black wool and pinched wire-rimmed glasses. Others wear high leather boots and long shirts belted at the waist in imitation of the toiling peasant. ”3 The delegates to the meeting include elected representatives from local village councils and factories as well as distinguished guests from Kiev, Kharkov, and Moscow.
A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland by Kate Brown