Rudling: Belarusian nationalism was one of the last nationalisms to appear in Eastern Europe

Rudling: Belarusian nationalism was one of the last nationalisms to appear in Eastern Europe

“Today I am letting myself give some background on the important years from 1906 to 1931, which were of the 25 years that shaped the idea of ‘Belarusiness.’” With these words, Per Anders Rudling, an associate professor of history at Lund University, started his public lecture “The Rise and Fall of Belarusian Nationalism (1906–1931).”

The lecture took place at EHU on May 26 as part of the yearlong Colloquium Vilnense.

Professor Rudling covered one hundred years of Belarusian nationalism, but the emphasis was on the first half of the 20th century. Тhis period of time has been crucial for the idea of Belarus not only because of the events that occurred then, but also as aspect forming phenomenon. The multiple occupations, mass exodus, warfare and partition of Belarusian lands all are part of the complex social context which has influenced the formation of the idea of Belarus.

“Belarusian nationalism in that sense was interesting for many reasons. One of them was, of course, the fact that it was one of the last, if not the last, nationalisms to appear in Eastern Europe. Additionally, it occurred under conditions different to those of neighboring nationalisms,” explained Professor Rudling. Interestingly, he argued as well that Belarusian nationalism, which emerged as a progressive idea among educated Catholics, turned, in the end, into a tool for rival states to make claims on Belarusian lands.

Professor Rudling’s lecture grew from his book of the same title, which was presented during the colloquium. Renowned Lithuanian historian Darius Staliūnas commented on the book, pointing out areas where the research is stronger and weaker. According to Staliūnas, this book will be more interesting for Western scholars unfamiliar with Eastern European history than for Belarusians, for whom the work does not contain anything fundamentally new.  

The lecture was held at EHU as part of the yearlong Colloquium Vilnense. It was organized jointly by Felix Ackermann and Olga Sasunkevich in cooperation with EHU departments and research centers as well as the Vilnius University Faculty of History.

Photo Credit: Viktoryia Zuyonak

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