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Slavic Identities: Peoples, Languages, and Religions Laura A. Janda

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1 Slavic Identities: Peoples, Languages, and Religions Laura A. Janda

2 Overall Distribution of Slavic Peoples in Europe


4 You are what you speak  Language is closely tied with identity  Political borders do not always correspond to linguistic borders  Religious borders also play an important role  Language can both unify and divide peoples

5 Can you name the Slavic languages?

6  North Slavic Russian, Belorusian, Ukrainian  West Slavic Polish, Czech, Slovak, Upper&Lower Sorbian  South Slavic Slovene, Croatian, Serbian, Macedonian, Bulgarian  Note how former Soviet Union, Soviet Bloc, and former Yugoslavia divided up this territory


8 Who are the Slavs’ neighbors?  Indo-European: Speakers of German, Greek, Albanian, Romanian, Lithuanian, Latvian, and Italian, plus Romany  Non-Indo European: Speakers of Hungarian, Estonian, Finnish, and Turkish, plus Caucasian and Central Asian languages

9 The Cyrillic Alphabet  Actually the second alphabet of the Slavs  Invented in the tenth century  Modeled primarily after Greek capital letters  Associated with Orthodox (Byzantine) Christianity

10 The Alphabetic Divide  Western Christianity & Latin Alphabet: Poland Czech Republic Slovakia Slovenia Croatia  Eastern Christianity & Cyrillic Alphabet: Russia Belarus Ukraine Serbia Macedonia Bulgaria


12 Megali Idea  Most nations (not just Slavic ones) have some “memory” of a time when their borders were at their largest.  These nations see these remembered borders as vital to their identity and seek to regain them.  These remembered borders overlap and do not contain a homogeneous population, motivating “ethnic cleansing”.

13 Poland  Primarily Catholic, previously had a significant Jewish minority (birthplace of Yiddish)  1385 -- Polish union with Lithuania -- administrative language is Latin  16th-17th centuries -- Polish used alongside Latin

14 Poland, cont’d.  1795 -- Poland partitioned among Russia, Prussia, and Austria  Poland ceased to exist for 123 years, during which time harsh policies established German & Russian as administrative languages  Intelligentsia & Catholic Church helped maintain Polish language & identity  Polish state reborn at end of WWI with minorities of Ukrainians, Ruthenians, Jews, Belarusians, Germans

15 Poland, cont’d.  WWII Nazi occupation reduced minorities via extermination & population transfers  Ethnic groups in present-day Poland: Lemkos (Ruthenians), Roma, Kashubians (330,000 speakers, status is controversial)

16 Slovakia  Historically part of Hungary  Used Czech as their literary language until mid-19th century  1843 Stur’s grammar launches Slovak national movement.  After 1867, Austro- Hungarian Magyarization suppresses Slovak

17 Slovakia, cont’d.  1939 Slovakia yields to Nazi Germany  1944 Restoration of Czechoslovakia  1948 Communists come to power  1960s Campaign against “bourgeois” (aka Slovak) nationalism & antireligious campaign targets Slovaks  Reforms after 1968 favored Slovaks  Since 1993: Independent Slovakia with Hungarian and Roma minorities, Slovak linguistic purism

18 Czech lands  9th century -- Mission of SS. Cyril & Methodius -- Czechs are the first Slavs to gain literacy  Political independence dates to 10th century, when the Czech lands were part of the Holy Roman Empire

19 Czech lands, cont’d.  Charles IV 1346-1378 King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emporer founded Charles U. (Carolina!), the oldest university north of the Alps  1415 Jan Hus is burned at the stake, ushering in the Reformation and Hussite wars  1526, Ferdinand I, a Hapsburg, becomes King of Bohemia, and ultimately Austria and Hungary as well, ushering in 400 years of Hapsburg rule  1618 Hapsburg repressions incite Prague defenestration, 30 year war

20 Czech lands, cont’d.  Two centuries of decline and oppression, with German as the only official language  1809 Josef Dobrovsky’s Czech grammar helps to launch Czech National Revival

21 Czech lands, cont’d.  1918 “The First Republic” and tensions between the 3M Germans and 7M Czechs in Bohemia  1938 Munich  After WWII, Benes decrees forced most Germans out  1948 Communists come to power  1968 Prague Spring and August invasion  1989 Velvet Revolution  1993 Velvet Divorce

22 Some Conclusions concerning Central Europe  Central Europe was dominated by others: Hapsburgs, Russian Empire, Prussia, Austro-Hungary  Enlightenment inspired educated classes to pursue nationalism  The rise of ethno-nationalism in Central Europe hampered a process of assimilation of different ethnic groups into bigger national entities

23 Some Conclusions concerning Central Europe, cont’d.  After WWI new states emerged based on language and ethnicity  After WWII communists came to power  The fall of communist regimes created a vacuum filled by ethno-nationalism  Language has been extremely important for identity and nationhood  Central Europe has been homogenized to maximize linguistic and national identity through genocide, population exchanges, etc.

24 Slavs in the Balkans  Bulgaria, Macedonia, Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, Slovenia  Balkan states succumbed to dictatorships in inter-war period  Balkan states were reconstructed by communists after WWII

25 The Former Serbo-Croatian  Goes by many names, including “bezimeni jezik”  Written with two alphabets  Used for worship in three major religions  Interlaced with several other languages (Hungarian, Romany, and dialects related to Romanian)

26 Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia-Montenegro)  Includes Kosovo, which is 90% Albanian  Serb nationalism suppressed under Tito.  Milosevic cast Albanians as oppressors in late 1980s (600th anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo Polje), and attempted to have them removed.  Montenegrans try to assert separate language & identity.

27 Bosnia-Hercegovina  Contains Muslims, Orthodox, and Catholics  1991 census: 44% Muslim, 32% Serb, 17% Croat, 7% Yugoslav  1992 war destroyed ethnic fabric of Bosnia

28 Croatia  Unrest makes figures on ethnic composition unreliable  Conflicts with Serbs, many of whom have fled  State is now relatively homogeneous

29 Slovenia  Ethnically & politically the most stable state in the Balkans  1.7 M: 88% Slovene 2% Serb 3% Croat 1% Muslim 0.6% Yugoslav

30 Bulgaria  8.5 M people 85% ethnic Bulgarian 9% Turkish 300,000 Roma 14,000 Armenian  1984 attempt to forcibly “Bulgarize” the Turks led to international criticism  Tension with Macedonia

31 Macedonia (FYROM)  1912 Annexed by Serbia  Macedonian Republic established 1946  2M, over 1/4 of these are Albanian

32 Ideologies of Nationalism in the Balkans  Post-Communist nationalisms have aimed for greater national homogeneity, often via ethnic cleansing  Magnification of linguistic differences for political purposes  Anti-democratic, narrow constructions of identity privilege “ethnicity” over region, religion, human rights, shared histories, and even shared languages.

33 Slavs in the Former Soviet Union  Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine  Russia is the largest sovereign state on earth, and contains great linguistic and ethnic diversity  All 3 had significant Jewish minorities drastically reduced by pogroms, massacres, and emigration

34 Russia  989 Kievan Rus converted to Christianity  Capital moved to Moscow undr Ivan the Terrible  1453 Russia became the protector of Orthodoxy (“Third Rome”) after Fall of Constantinople.

35 Russia, cont’d.  17th-19th centuries -- vast expansion to incorporate Siberia, Belarus, Ukraine, part of Poland, and Baltics  Catherine the Great through Romanov dynasty -- consistent policy of enforced Russification -- Russian becomes lingua franca of the area  Russian chauvinism continued in Soviet period, and most non-Russian languages suffered serious decline

36 Belarus  Belarusian language codified 1906-14  78% Belarusian, 13% Russian  But Belarus was intensively Russified, and most Belarusians are more comfortable with Russian than with Belarusian

37 Ukraine  Ukrainian language codified 19th C  73% Ukrainian, 22% Russian  Complex situation, since many dialects are very close to Russian, many people are bilingual, and there are also close ties to Poland

38 Former Soviet Union: Conclusions  Russia heavily dominates the area  Other identities are weakly felt or suppressed  Economic decline presents a potential problem that could be exploited by nationalists

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