Abstract

SUMMARY:

The article traces the process of transformation of the idea of Lithuania in the lands of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania during the first half of the nineteenth century. The Grand Duchy had all but disappeared within the Polish kingdom in the eighteenth century, and the partition of Poland seemed to be delivering the final blow to the medieval and early modern concept of Lithuania. Incorporated into the Russian Empire, the lands of the Grand Duchy were redistributed among new provinces in such a way that administrative borders would not coincide with historical ones. Later on, the very mention of Lithuania was prohibited in the names of provinces and titles of periodicals. And yet, precisely during this period, when even the cultural elite of the region was exclusively Polish-speaking, a radical transformation of mental mapping took place. The archaic concept of a historical region inhabited by a multiconfessional and multicultural population, “Lithuania” was reinvented as a national territory of the Lithuanian ethnic nation. This transformation proceeded over several stages, and was influenced by the rise of a Herderian linguistic understanding of the nation, a Romantic obsession with nativism, and the development of population statistics. Russian imperial anti-Polish policies helped the process of differentiation of the Lithuanian cultural elite from the former common Polish public sphere. Parallel to this, the Lithuanian lower classes were differentiated from the local Slavic population, and for the first time was imagined as belonging to the same horizontal community of solidarity as the elite – the community of culturally, historically, and territorially defined Lithuanians. The scene was set for the rise of a modern Lithuanian nationalist movement.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2164-9731
Print ISSN
2166-4072
Pages
pp. 77-124
Launched on MUSE
2015-05-28
Open Access
No
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