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Modern Ukrainian national identity is at least 5 centuries old

I don't think so. If it can be said to exist at all.

Ukraine can be divided into at least 3, but even better 9 regions with separate history, culture and 'identity'. They could really start to flow together only 14 years ago. Tough the Russian-speaking Southeast doesn't like it, and the Centre/North won't accept it as exclusive, the origin of the current national mythology and language is in the Western part - and formed in the 19th century, mostly on area held by the Habsburg Monarchy (and Western Christian like the Poles). The North has history as Eastern Slav political (Kyiv Rus) and religious centre (in conflict with Poland 400-300 years ago), the Centre has history as free Kossacks (in conflict with Poland at similar times). Meanwhile, the Southeast had not much to do with Poland 500 years ago, as the population is more recent settlement from central Tsarist Russia after conquest from the Ottoman Empire.

It may yet fall apart - don't you remember the tensions during the 'Orange Revolution'?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 04:22:09 PM EST
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They could really start to flow together only 14 years ago.
And I'm the one putting too much emphasis on nation-states...

I don't have the time for a debate on linguistic differentiation in the 14th century, the significance of the Zaporozhian Host in 16th century and cetera, but, dear Dodo, you are pulling a fast one there.

As the nationalist movements of the 19th century, you are indulging in anachronism and anti-causality. Gimme a Warp drive :> Those movements in Ukraine, but similarly in Germany, and pretty much everywhere in Europe, do not appear out of thin air. Following the French Revolution (France's last truly serious contribution to History), they formalise nationalities, making them explicit in contemporary terms but they do not create them.

As for the tensions between the Ukrainian majority and the Russian (or more largely Russian-speaking) minority, we're talking about two fairly recent phenomenons: the overlap between the 2 populations on the eastern marches of the modern Ukrainian territory (with some Ukrainians in Russia, by the way) and even more recently, the forced Russification policy under Stalin and the continued integration of Ukraine into the USSR after him.

By the way, regarding the Stalinian Russification, I must say I'm pretty impressed to see how a nation which is not supposed to exist has managed to preserve its identity under very serious pressure. I'm saying that as a Breton French, that is someone who knows quite a bit about enforced acculturation in modern times.
by Francois in Paris on Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 05:56:03 PM EST
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