Sopolyha Myroslav – a Doctor of History, a professor, a director of the Museum of Ukrainian Culture in Svydnyk (Slovakia)
Slovakian Ukrainians: A Historical-Ethnographic Aspect
The article examines the ethnic history of Slovakian Ukrainians as an autochthonous national minority and considers various scientific theories on the origin of Transcarpathian Rusyns and their national self-determination. The Ukrainians (Rusyns) populate over 250 villages compactly located on the territories of North-Eastern Slovakia along the Slovakian-Polish border. Throughout the centuries, the Priashivshchyna Ukrainians were marked off from the main body of the Rus-Ukrainian ethnic group by political frontiers. Their culture evolved under conditions of extraneous state and political, ideological and cultural, as well as confessional influences, being surrounded by predominant – Hungarian, Slovakian and other ethnic groups.
At the time, the idea of uniting the Rusyns-Ukrainians within the Carpathian region was inadmissible. Instead, there were initiated and advocated the separatist inclinations: in the early to mid-19th century, there were being spread the conceptions of political Rusynstvo. To counterbalance them as a constituent of the Magyarization policy – in the milieu of Transcarpathian Ukrainians, there was being arisen the nation-liberation movement of Russophilic orientation backed by the Russian authorities. In spite of this, in the Ukrainian environment of Eastern Slovakia observable is the historical continuance of both the traditions of professional Ukrainian culture, whose carriers are architects, clergymen, scientists, teachers, cultural workers, and educators, and the traditions of folk culture handed down from generation to generation and became apparent in folk construction, implements, clothes, cuisine, as well as in customs, rituals, works of oral folk art and folk beliefs. Confessional appertaining to the Eastern Rite (Greek Catholic or Orthodox, that is, to the Rusian faith) is still one of the cardinal differentiative elements of culture of Eastern Slovakia’s Ukrainians.
Scientific ethnographic, folkloristic, linguistic, theological and other studies are outstandingly indicative of the fact that the Ukrainians live in the region from the remotest times. Therefore, any attempts of eliminating the Ukrainian nature of the populace under study in the context of above-mentioned artificially constructed theories should be considered groundless and noxious.
Slovakian Ukrainians, ethnic history, political Rusynstvo.
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