By Kate Brown

This can be 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 aspect by way of facet. Over the subsequent 3 a long time, this mosaic of cultures was once modernized and homogenized out of lifestyles via the ruling may of the Soviet Union, then Nazi Germany, and at last, Polish and Ukrainian nationalism. by means of the Fifties, this "no position" emerged as a Ukrainian heartland, and the fertile mixture of peoples that outlined the area was once destroyed. Brown's research is grounded within the lifetime of the village and shtetl, within the personalities and small histories of daily life during this zone. In awesome aspect, she files how those regimes, bureaucratically after which violently, separated, named, and regimented this elaborate neighborhood into unique ethnic teams. Drawing on lately opened data, ethnography, and oral interviews that have been unavailable a decade in the past, A Biography of No position unearths Stalinist and Nazi background from the viewpoint of the distant borderlands, therefore bringing the outer edge to the heart of historical past. we're given, briefly, 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 resources for A Biography of No Place: From Ethnic Borderland to Soviet Heartland

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Later, in 1930s and 1940s, German officials had difficulties distinguishing ethnic Germans from the surrounding populations and the stakes were raised on defining all national identities more precisely. The book reflects these changes in perception by shifting the spotlight from one national group to another in time. As well, the problem with writing a history of people who slip from one margin to another lies in the invisibility of the periphery. ” They could not hear them; they found it too dark to see them.

Both times they failed, and afterward the tsars unleashed royal vengeance, divesting four out of five Polish families of their aristocratic crests and banning the sale of land to Catholics. 35 They arrived in groups, pooled their money, and bought the estates of bankrupt Polish aristocracy. Around the new farms they built religious communities that lived peaceably with the surrounding villages of peasants. By the onset of the Russian Revolution, the upholstered existence of Polish landowners had already faded.

And Saulevich had no horses or cars to give to his investigators. They had to get to the distant homesteads, hamlets, and villages as best they could on their own. One inspector described how he traveled: It’s a big problem getting out to villages. The regional administration has only one car, and the chairman of the region and his secretary use it. So I have to wait for chance rides. . I go to the market and search out a collective farmer who is going where I’m going. I make an agreement with him and wait while he takes care of his affairs.

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