By Kate Brown
It is a biography of a borderland among Russia and Poland, a area 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 used to be modernized and homogenized out of lifestyles by way of the ruling may perhaps of the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany, and at last, Polish and Ukrainian nationalism. through the Nineteen Fifties, this "no position" emerged as a Ukrainian heartland, and the fertile mixture of peoples that outlined the zone used to be destroyed. Brown's research is grounded within the lifetime of the village and shtetl, within the personalities and small histories of way of life during this sector. In striking element, she records how those regimes, bureaucratically after which violently, separated, named, and regimented this elaborate group into distinctive ethnic teams. Drawing on lately opened documents, ethnography, and oral interviews that have been unavailable a decade in the past, A Biography of No position finds Stalinist and Nazi heritage from the point of view of the distant borderlands, hence bringing the outer edge to the heart of background. we're given, in brief, 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
By following the paper trail from the village to Moscow, one sees more clearly how abstract 16 A Biography of No Place national borders could be drawn dividing communities of people related by common family and cultural ties, as well as how much easier it is to make enemies from afar. I also turned to accounts by ethnographers traveling through the countryside recording what they imagined to be the last glimpse of the premodern Ukrainian countryside. Ethnographers recorded many details of material culture and also a sense of the rift between educated urbanites and the people of the towns and cities.
I reached Dovbysh, the former Marchlevsk, a week later, when the roads 26 A Biography of No Place had dried, with a friend in a borrowed car. We pulled the car into a huddle of low, gray, wooden buildings set squarely in the midst of plowed fields. The town itself was ten streets abreast and twenty avenues deep, lined with cottages surrounded by vegetable patches, outhouses, and animal pens. Dovbysh has a porcelain factory, a truck repair station, two stores, a little plumbing, no sewers, asphalt, or street lights, and no real center of the sort most Soviet regional centers used to have—with a formal square for parades, a statue of Lenin, and as much marble as the local builders could scrub up.
Most of the preserved documents are written in Russian or Ukrainian, fewer in Polish. 2 Archival documents fail us at times. Trying to uncover the essence of the 18 Inventory 19 Marchlevsk Region from the documents left behind is like trying to read an autopsy report to determine the nature of the personality, the value of the life. If there was a special quality to the Polish Marchlevsk Region, moments, at least, of pride, or a swelling sense among those who believed in the project that they were building something worthwhile—making a statement to the world about the grand magnanimity of international socialism, or showing the blighted Polish workers across the border the path to a better life—these documents hardly narrate that story.
A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland by Kate Brown