- Українська мова, нація та ідентичність у міжімперському просторі (друга половина ХІХ–початок ХХ століття) by Ольга Казакевич
This book by the Kyiv-based historian Olga Kazakevych, published in late 2018, is a comparative study of the status and functioning of the Ukrainian language in the multiethnic Romanov and Habsburg empires, as a decisive factor in shaping the modern Ukrainian nation and national identity. This comparative approach allows the author to depart from the mainstream canon of writing national history and to study the case of Ukrainian language in the broader European context of the nineteenth century, alongside other nondominant languages in various countries.
In the Foreword the author explicates the importance of the topic. According to Kazakevych, it was not religion or economic interests but language status that became central to the Ukrainian national movement at the turn of the twentieth century (Pp. 5–6). In the Introduction, she outlines the methodology and meaning of the key concepts used in the study, such as "identity," [End Page 289] "languages," "nation-building," and "linguistic policy" (Pp. 8–21), and gives an overview of her primary and secondary sources (Pp. 21–59).
In chapter 1, Kazakevych discusses the tensions and conflicts between "dominant" and "minor," "official" and "popular" languages in Britain, Ireland, France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Greece, Bulgaria, Romania, and Serbia during the nineteenth century (Pp. 60–81). The prevailing policy in most European states at the time was linguistic unification and standardization. The growing role of state languages (whether this status was confirmed by law or just implied) was accompanied by the marginalization of minority languages and their sphere of application (P. 81). This broader European context helps readers to better understand the dynamics of ethnic and language policies in the Habsburg (chapter 2) and Romanov (chapter 3) empires and how they differed from other countries.
Kazakevych concludes that, in contrast to the majority of European states, the language policy of Austro-Hungary leaned toward linguistic and national pluralism, which was reflected in the imperial constitution. She believes that this position can be explained by the medieval legacy of the empire and the ruling elite's lack of interest in turning Austro-Hungary into a nation-state. As a result, the status of individual languages and nationalities in the empire depended significantly on the social, economic, political, and demographic situation in particular regions (P. 96). In the Russian Empire, the language policies of St. Petersburg greatly varied in different territories, whether in the Polish or Baltic provinces, the Grand Duchy of Finland or the Caucasus, Bessarabia or Turkestan, the Volga-Ural region or Siberia. The author's coverage of these cases is uneven, as she concentrates mostly on the European part of the country and offers only a sketchy survey of the status of national languages in Siberia, Central Asia, and Transcaucasia.
After reconstructing this complex historical context, Kazakevych moves on to discussing the ways the Ukrainian "ethnic and linguistic question" was treated in both empires. In the next chapter "Language or Dialect?" she surveys Ukrainian policies in the Russian Empire, including the role of censorship in hampering the development of the literary language, and in Austria-Hungary. She concludes that the failure of St. Petersburg to curtail the development and proliferation of the Ukrainian literary language resulted from the empire's lack of modernization and the inefficiency, incompetence, and corruptness of its bureaucracy. The author's numerous examples of the latter suggest [End Page 290] the possibility that a special study would be useful to examine how corruption in the Russian Empire saved the Ukrainian language from total elimination.
The following chapters look into the development of Ukrainian as "the language of the nation," its standardization as the literary language suiting the task of public administration, court proceedings, business, science, and higher education. The author studies this linguistic process as intertwined with political dynamics, since the language question was operationalized by the programs of Ukrainian political movements. Whereas in the Russian Empire the Ukrainian national movement relied mostly on the humanitarian intelligentsia, in the Habsburg empire its main driving force was the Greek Catholic clergy. For these two groups, language was not just a medium of conversation but a "professional instrument." The success...