Why Do We Need Belarusian Studies? Instead of An Introduction
Keywords:Belarusian studies, Ukrainian studies, Slavia Romana & Slavia Orthodoxa, Rzeczpospolita, multiculturalism, politics of memory, Limes Europae
AbstractThe current situation in Belarus pushes us to revise the analytical approaches used to understand this reality, the least known and least studied of all Slavic cultures. This article examines various conceptual tools for reinterpreting Belarusian culture within the framework of the tradition of Slavic studies in Italy. The analysis focuses on the geocultural context at the crossroads of Poland, Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, in which the Limes Europae keeps moving further to the East in a climate of growing tensions and conflicts. Recent events are examined through the cultural legacy of the past, revealing how the Belarusian identity has been formed in relation to Russia on the one hand, and the Polish-Lithuanian-Ukrainian area on the other. We compare the traditional Russian historiographical scheme (and its respective practices of historical memory) with the Polish historiographical scheme. The former sees Belarus ad an integral part of an internally homogeneous Orthodox continuum. The latter recognizes the existence of separate cultural legacies belonging to the various historical subjects of the Polish Republic, stressing their mutually beneficial relationship in a multicultural sense. Furthermore, the development of Belarusian studies in Italy is compared to the more consolidated discipline of Ukrainian studies. The concluding part explores various options on how Belarusian studies can be establishes as a fully-fledged discipline in Italy.