Common past, divided memories: historical memory of the Polish minority members in Lithuania

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingMagisteruppsats

Sammanfattning

The Master’s thesis examines historical memory of the Polish minority members in Lithuania with
regard to how their interpretation of the common Polish-Lithuanian history reiterates or differs from the
official Polish and Lithuanian narratives conveyed by the school textbooks. History teaching in high
schools carries a crucial state-supported role of “identity building policies” – it maintains a national
narrative of memory, which might be exclusive to minorities and their peculiar understanding of history.
Lithuanians Poles, in this regard, represent a national minority, which is exposed to two conflicting
national narratives of the common past – Polish and Lithuanian. As members of the Polish nation, their
understanding of the common Polish-Lithuanian history is conditioned by the Polish historical narrative,
acquired as part of the collective memory of the family and/or different minority organizations. On the
other hand, they encounter Lithuanian historical narrative of the Polish-Lithuanian past throughout the
secondary school history education, where the curriculum, even if taught in Polish, largely represents the
Lithuanian point of view.
The concept of collective memory is utilized to refer to collective representations of national
memory (i.e. publicly articulated narratives and images of collective past in history textbooks) as well as
to socially framed individual memories (i.e. historical memory of minority members, where individual
remembering is framed by the social context of their identity).
The thesis compares the official national historical narratives in Lithuania and Poland, as conveyed
by the Polish and Lithuanian history textbooks. The consequent analysis of qualitative interviews with
the Polish minority members in Lithuania offers insights into historical memory of Lithuanian Poles and
its relation to the official Polish and Lithuanian national narratives of the common past. Qualitative
content analysis is applied in both parts of the analysis.
The narratives which emerge from the interview data could be broadly grouped into two segments.
First, a more pronounced view on the past combines the following elements: i) emphasis on the value of
multicultural and diverse past of Lithuania, ii) contestation of “Lithuanocentricity” of the Lithuanian
narrative and iii) rejection of the term “occupation”, based on the cultural presuppositions – the
dominant position of Polish culture and language in the Vilnius region, symbolic belonging and
“Lithuanianness” of the local Poles. While the opposition to the term of “occupation” is in accord with
the official Polish narrative conveyed by the textbooks, the former two elements do not neatly adhere to
either Polish or Lithuanian textbook narratives. They should rather be considered as an expression of
claims for inclusion of plural pasts into Lithuanian collective memory and hence as claims for symbolic
enfranchisement into the Lithuanian “imagined community”.
The second strand of views, on the other hand, does not exclude assertions about the historically
dominant position of Polish culture in Lithuania, but at the same time places more emphasis on the
political and historical continuity of the Lithuanian state and highlights a long-standing symbolic
connectedness of Vilnius and Lithuania, thus, striking a middle way between the Polish and Lithuanian interpretations of the past.
Originalspråkengelska
UtgivningsortHelsinki
Förlag
StatusPublicerad - 12 apr 2011
MoE-publikationstypG2 Masteruppsats, polyteknisk masteruppsats

Vetenskapsgrenar

  • 517 Statsvetenskap

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title = "Common past, divided memories: historical memory of the Polish minority members in Lithuania",
abstract = "The Master’s thesis examines historical memory of the Polish minority members in Lithuania with regard to how their interpretation of the common Polish-Lithuanian history reiterates or differs from the official Polish and Lithuanian narratives conveyed by the school textbooks. History teaching in high schools carries a crucial state-supported role of “identity building policies” – it maintains a national narrative of memory, which might be exclusive to minorities and their peculiar understanding of history. Lithuanians Poles, in this regard, represent a national minority, which is exposed to two conflicting national narratives of the common past – Polish and Lithuanian. As members of the Polish nation, their understanding of the common Polish-Lithuanian history is conditioned by the Polish historical narrative, acquired as part of the collective memory of the family and/or different minority organizations. On the other hand, they encounter Lithuanian historical narrative of the Polish-Lithuanian past throughout the secondary school history education, where the curriculum, even if taught in Polish, largely represents the Lithuanian point of view. The concept of collective memory is utilized to refer to collective representations of national memory (i.e. publicly articulated narratives and images of collective past in history textbooks) as well as to socially framed individual memories (i.e. historical memory of minority members, where individual remembering is framed by the social context of their identity). The thesis compares the official national historical narratives in Lithuania and Poland, as conveyed by the Polish and Lithuanian history textbooks. The consequent analysis of qualitative interviews with the Polish minority members in Lithuania offers insights into historical memory of Lithuanian Poles and its relation to the official Polish and Lithuanian national narratives of the common past. Qualitative content analysis is applied in both parts of the analysis. The narratives which emerge from the interview data could be broadly grouped into two segments. First, a more pronounced view on the past combines the following elements: i) emphasis on the value of multicultural and diverse past of Lithuania, ii) contestation of “Lithuanocentricity” of the Lithuanian narrative and iii) rejection of the term “occupation”, based on the cultural presuppositions – the dominant position of Polish culture and language in the Vilnius region, symbolic belonging and “Lithuanianness” of the local Poles. While the opposition to the term of “occupation” is in accord with the official Polish narrative conveyed by the textbooks, the former two elements do not neatly adhere to either Polish or Lithuanian textbook narratives. They should rather be considered as an expression of claims for inclusion of plural pasts into Lithuanian collective memory and hence as claims for symbolic enfranchisement into the Lithuanian “imagined community”. The second strand of views, on the other hand, does not exclude assertions about the historically dominant position of Polish culture in Lithuania, but at the same time places more emphasis on the political and historical continuity of the Lithuanian state and highlights a long-standing symbolic connectedness of Vilnius and Lithuania, thus, striking a middle way between the Polish and Lithuanian interpretations of the past.",
keywords = "517 Political science, collective memory, historical memory, history textbook research",
author = "Ruta Kazlauskaite",
year = "2011",
month = "4",
day = "12",
language = "English",
publisher = "Helsingin yliopisto",
address = "Finland",

}

Common past, divided memories : historical memory of the Polish minority members in Lithuania. / Kazlauskaite, Ruta.

Helsinki : Helsingin yliopisto, 2011. 119 s.

Forskningsoutput: AvhandlingMagisteruppsats

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N2 - The Master’s thesis examines historical memory of the Polish minority members in Lithuania with regard to how their interpretation of the common Polish-Lithuanian history reiterates or differs from the official Polish and Lithuanian narratives conveyed by the school textbooks. History teaching in high schools carries a crucial state-supported role of “identity building policies” – it maintains a national narrative of memory, which might be exclusive to minorities and their peculiar understanding of history. Lithuanians Poles, in this regard, represent a national minority, which is exposed to two conflicting national narratives of the common past – Polish and Lithuanian. As members of the Polish nation, their understanding of the common Polish-Lithuanian history is conditioned by the Polish historical narrative, acquired as part of the collective memory of the family and/or different minority organizations. On the other hand, they encounter Lithuanian historical narrative of the Polish-Lithuanian past throughout the secondary school history education, where the curriculum, even if taught in Polish, largely represents the Lithuanian point of view. The concept of collective memory is utilized to refer to collective representations of national memory (i.e. publicly articulated narratives and images of collective past in history textbooks) as well as to socially framed individual memories (i.e. historical memory of minority members, where individual remembering is framed by the social context of their identity). The thesis compares the official national historical narratives in Lithuania and Poland, as conveyed by the Polish and Lithuanian history textbooks. The consequent analysis of qualitative interviews with the Polish minority members in Lithuania offers insights into historical memory of Lithuanian Poles and its relation to the official Polish and Lithuanian national narratives of the common past. Qualitative content analysis is applied in both parts of the analysis. The narratives which emerge from the interview data could be broadly grouped into two segments. First, a more pronounced view on the past combines the following elements: i) emphasis on the value of multicultural and diverse past of Lithuania, ii) contestation of “Lithuanocentricity” of the Lithuanian narrative and iii) rejection of the term “occupation”, based on the cultural presuppositions – the dominant position of Polish culture and language in the Vilnius region, symbolic belonging and “Lithuanianness” of the local Poles. While the opposition to the term of “occupation” is in accord with the official Polish narrative conveyed by the textbooks, the former two elements do not neatly adhere to either Polish or Lithuanian textbook narratives. They should rather be considered as an expression of claims for inclusion of plural pasts into Lithuanian collective memory and hence as claims for symbolic enfranchisement into the Lithuanian “imagined community”. The second strand of views, on the other hand, does not exclude assertions about the historically dominant position of Polish culture in Lithuania, but at the same time places more emphasis on the political and historical continuity of the Lithuanian state and highlights a long-standing symbolic connectedness of Vilnius and Lithuania, thus, striking a middle way between the Polish and Lithuanian interpretations of the past.

AB - The Master’s thesis examines historical memory of the Polish minority members in Lithuania with regard to how their interpretation of the common Polish-Lithuanian history reiterates or differs from the official Polish and Lithuanian narratives conveyed by the school textbooks. History teaching in high schools carries a crucial state-supported role of “identity building policies” – it maintains a national narrative of memory, which might be exclusive to minorities and their peculiar understanding of history. Lithuanians Poles, in this regard, represent a national minority, which is exposed to two conflicting national narratives of the common past – Polish and Lithuanian. As members of the Polish nation, their understanding of the common Polish-Lithuanian history is conditioned by the Polish historical narrative, acquired as part of the collective memory of the family and/or different minority organizations. On the other hand, they encounter Lithuanian historical narrative of the Polish-Lithuanian past throughout the secondary school history education, where the curriculum, even if taught in Polish, largely represents the Lithuanian point of view. The concept of collective memory is utilized to refer to collective representations of national memory (i.e. publicly articulated narratives and images of collective past in history textbooks) as well as to socially framed individual memories (i.e. historical memory of minority members, where individual remembering is framed by the social context of their identity). The thesis compares the official national historical narratives in Lithuania and Poland, as conveyed by the Polish and Lithuanian history textbooks. The consequent analysis of qualitative interviews with the Polish minority members in Lithuania offers insights into historical memory of Lithuanian Poles and its relation to the official Polish and Lithuanian national narratives of the common past. Qualitative content analysis is applied in both parts of the analysis. The narratives which emerge from the interview data could be broadly grouped into two segments. First, a more pronounced view on the past combines the following elements: i) emphasis on the value of multicultural and diverse past of Lithuania, ii) contestation of “Lithuanocentricity” of the Lithuanian narrative and iii) rejection of the term “occupation”, based on the cultural presuppositions – the dominant position of Polish culture and language in the Vilnius region, symbolic belonging and “Lithuanianness” of the local Poles. While the opposition to the term of “occupation” is in accord with the official Polish narrative conveyed by the textbooks, the former two elements do not neatly adhere to either Polish or Lithuanian textbook narratives. They should rather be considered as an expression of claims for inclusion of plural pasts into Lithuanian collective memory and hence as claims for symbolic enfranchisement into the Lithuanian “imagined community”. The second strand of views, on the other hand, does not exclude assertions about the historically dominant position of Polish culture in Lithuania, but at the same time places more emphasis on the political and historical continuity of the Lithuanian state and highlights a long-standing symbolic connectedness of Vilnius and Lithuania, thus, striking a middle way between the Polish and Lithuanian interpretations of the past.

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