Monday, June 09, 2008

Poland is not Eastern Europe

Neither is the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, or Yugoslavia. Poland is Catholic and was part of the Holy Roman Empire up until the partition of Poland that left its northeast part "administered" by Russia. Eastern Europe proper is made up of the countries that were/are Orthodox and that were under the influence of the Byzantine Empire. This means Russia, Bulgaria, Romania, the Ukraine. States like Estonia and Latvia that were directly incorporated into Russia and into the Soviet Union, as opposed to being satellite states, have more Eastern European characteristics. But this breaks down too, because Finland was part of Russia for about a century, and yet we think of Finland as being part of Scandinavia. Down south the division between East and West (or Eastern Europe and Central Europe, which would consist mostly of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire) breaks down, in part because of the Ottoman Empire. That throws a kind of wrench into the whole East-West classification because Serbia, Greece, what's now Macedonia, Bosnia, Albania, Romania, and the southeast part of Hungary, were Christian subjects of a Turkish Muslim state. Some people adopted Islam, the Bosnians and the Albanians, yet ethnically they appear European. Even if the Ottoman Empire hadn't been there the idea of East and West would have broken down due to Greece and Romania, two states that were both parts of the classical world......a subsidiary state and its headquarters.....but that aren't Slavic. Aha. That gets us somewhere. Eastern Europe seems to be a euphemism for "Slavic", a sort of ethno-racist classification that assumes that every people that speaks a Slavic language are fundamentally the same. What would that make the commonly defined Western Europe, then? People who speak German derived languages, like England, Germany, and Holland? But no one says that because we know where that sort of thinking lead to. Yet when it comes to slavic countries the same basic premise is applied: that there are racial monoliths in Europe that have a relative worth that depends on their ethnic make up, in this case that Slavic states are foreign and inferior because of who they are in a crude linguistic sense. And that this should apply to people who are descended from these states as well.

The last people who I'm related to who immigrated to America from elsewhere are great grandparents. Do I have a 'Slavic Soul'?

No comments: