Per Anders Rudling
The Rise and Fall of Belarusian Nationalism, 1906-1931
University of Pittsburgh Press 2015
New Books in Eastern European StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Russian and Eurasian StudiesNew Books Network May 23, 2016 Amanda Jeanne Swain
I don’t often have a chance to read books that focus solely on Belarus, which is exactly why I was intrigued by The Rise and Fall of Belarusian Nationalism, 1906-1931 (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015). Per Anders Rudling‘s study seeks to answer a basic question Why is there today an independent Belarus and how did this state appear? He begins by noting that Belarusian statehood was declared and re-declared no less than six times between 1918 and 1920, despite the fact that Belarusian territory was occupied by Germany during World War I and then divided between the Soviet Union and Poland in 1920. Rudling traces the activities of few hundred intellectuals as they attempted to shape a Belarusian national identity and political state. At the same time, he demonstrates the extent to which the these nationalists cultural and political achievements were dependent on the support of external powers Germany, the Soviet Union and Poland all of whom who saw Belarusian nationalism as a tool for undermining an opposing state.
Amanda Jeanne Swain is executive director of the Humanities Commons at the University of California, Irvine. She received her PhD in Russian and East European history at the University of Washington. Her research interests include the intersections of national, Soviet and European identities in the Baltic countries. Recent publications include articles in Ab Imperio and Cahiers du Monde Russe.