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» Conférences d’après mars 2011 : nouveau site

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Semaine culturelle L’Ukraine et la Biélorussie

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Language and Belarusian Nation-Building
Barbara Törnquist Plewa (Lund University (Suède))

23 mars 2006

Séance Identités biélorusse et ukrainienne dans le monde contemporain présidée par Alexandra Goujon, maître de conférence en sciences politiques, Université de Bourgogne
The aim of the paper is to analyse the Belarusian nation-building process with the focus on the role played by the language as a marker for national identity and as a national symbol. After a short discussion of the meaning of the term Belarusian in the pre-modern, pre-national period I proceed to examine the modern Belarusian nation-building process from the 19th century to the present day. By using elements from K. Deutch´s communication theory, E. Gellner´s structuralist-functionalist theory of nationalism and W. Bloom´s identification theory I discuss why Belarusian nation building can be seen as yet an unaccomplished project. Explanations for the weakness of Belarusian nationalism are sought, inter alia, in the late modernisation of the Belarusian territories, the weakness of the Belarusian national elite, the obstacles to the diffusion of the national ideology and the national elite’s failure to make the Belarusian language a confidence-boosting, sharply delimiting national symbol of the kind which, according to Bloom´s theory, is necessary to facilitate the identification with one’s own group. The question remains what strategy the Belarusian elite should choose today and what symbols it should use in order to succeed in reformulating the post Soviet-Belorussian identity into the national Belarusian identity.

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Barbara Törnquist Plewa Barbara Törnquist Plewa (Lund University (Suède))