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17551Re: [Slovak-World] Re: Rusyns demand Rusyn in church

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  • Dr. Joe Q
    Feb 13, 2007
      Dear Martin,

      Thank you for the clear and succinct explanation.

      Dr. "Q"

      --- Martin Votruba <votrubam@...> wrote:

      > I think you gave a very good account of the
      > situation, Joe. One's
      > identity is formed by what others tell us what we
      > are, beginning with
      > our parents and soon by others. Once we are a
      > little older, we use
      > that information to begin to decide who we are for
      > ourselves, but then
      > others can still influence us by labeling us in ways
      > different from
      > what we'd rather choose.
      > Most of the Eastern Slavs in the former Kingdom of
      > Hungary acquired a
      > fairly clear identity -- they became Rusyns (just as
      > the Western Slavs
      > in the Kingdom became Slovaks and the Southern Slavs
      > became Croats).
      > It was more complicated in Poland-Ukraine because
      > the borders shifted
      > a lot all the time.
      > Although the Rusyns/Eastern Slavs still used several
      > labels for
      > themselves once they found themselves in
      > Czechoslovakia after 1918
      > (Rusin, Rusnak, Malorus, Rus, Ukrajinec...), it was
      > clear that those
      > who did saw their identity as different from that of
      > their West Slavic
      > fellow citizens and neighbors, the Slovaks, and the
      > other way round.
      > That was crushed after WW II. Their administrative
      > part of
      > Czechoslovakia, Sub-Carpathian Rus (the
      > north-eastern part of the
      > earlier Kingdom for the preceding 800 years), was
      > annexed by the
      > Soviet Union in 1945 and all the Eastern Slavs had
      > to call themselves
      > Ukrainians there after that (Rusyn identity was
      > banned).
      > Czechoslovakia, which turned communist in 1948, had
      > to follow suit.
      > When Prague copied the Soviet ban on Rusyn identity,
      > many Rusyns in
      > Slovakia were eager to call themselves Slovak out of
      > fear that their
      > villages might still be annexed by Moscow, too, or
      > they personally
      > deported if they called themselves Ukrainians (those
      > fears were
      > probably unfounded by then).
      > So, the Rusyns in communist Czechoslovakia were left
      > with two options:
      > either call themselves Ukrainians or Slovaks.
      > Understandably, most
      > chose the second option -- the identity of the
      > majority in the state
      > where they lived rather than the identity that was
      > being forced on the
      > Rusyns across the border just east of them, who had
      > now found
      > themselves in the Soviet Union -- a lot incomparably
      > worse than being
      > in communist Czechoslovakia, Hungary, or Poland.
      > After 40 years of Rusyn "official non-existence,"
      > communism collapsed
      > in Czechoslovakia, people are allowed to call
      > themselves whatever they
      > want again, and Rusyn activists are trying to
      > persuade the descendants
      > of those who used to call themselves Rusyns before
      > communism to
      > recognize that identity for themselves again. It's
      > an uphill
      > struggle: the decades of Slovak identity,
      > intermarriage, migration
      > have taken their heavy toll on a group of people
      > that was not
      > particularly numerous in Slovakia to begin with.
      > Moreover, they've
      > lost the supportive influence/"hinterland" of the
      > about 500,000 pre-WW
      > II Rusyn majority in Sub-Carpathian Rus where
      > Ukraine is still
      > suppressing Rusyn identity.
      > About 90,000 people called themselves Rusyns (and
      > related identities)
      > in pre-WW II democracy in Slovakia in the 1930
      > census. Immediately
      > after the collapse of communism, about 17,000 called
      > themselves Rusyns
      > + about 13,000 Ukrainians for a total of ca. 31,000
      > in the 1991
      > census, a precipitous drop of 60% while Slovakia's
      > population actually
      > grew by 60% during the same period. Although
      > activists (and Magocsi)
      > hoped then that the number might quadruple within a
      > decade, it hasn't
      > happened: about 24,000 called themselves Rusyns +
      > about 11,000
      > Ukrainians for a total of ca. 35,000 in the 2001
      > census.
      > Rusyn activists base their hopes on the higher
      > number of people in
      > Slovakia who say their mother tongue is Rusyn, ca.
      > 55,000 + 8,000
      > Ukrainian for a total of about 63,000 more than a
      > half of whom
      > identify as Slovak; and on the number of Greek
      > Catholics, ca. 220,000
      > plus ca. 50,000 Eastern Orthodox for a total of
      > 270,000, most of whom
      > Rusyn activists tend to see as people who lost their
      > Rusyn/East Slavic
      > identity over the centuries of living in the Kingdom
      > among the Roman
      > Catholic and Protestant Slovaks and Hungarians.
      > People can claim whatever ethnicity and religion in
      > Slovakia, and
      > change both freely, so it's been up to the activists
      > and people's
      > choice in the past 16 years. But the present
      > choices are among the
      > results of the annihilating grinder through which
      > Rusyn identity was
      > put in the decades between the end of WW II and the
      > collapse of communism.
      > Martin
      > votruba "at" pitt "dot" edu

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