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Title: Śląsk Cieszyński : obrazy przeszłości a tożsamość miejsc i ludzi
Authors: Studnicki, Grzegorz
Keywords: Śląsk Cieszyński; Śląsk Cieszyński obyczaje i zwyczaje
Issue Date: 2015
Publisher: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
Abstract: The book deals with the modern social and cultural practices of invoking the past of the Cieszyn Silesia region. The author’s main focus constitutes a group of regional activists, who frequently take up the role of local „depositaries of memory” or „guardians of tradition”. As the local leaders they act alone or within more or less formalized groups such as associations or the region or the given town enthusiasts’ societies. The publication is mainly dedicated to the culture of memory and the memory of culture. It encompasses the examples of individual or group activities focusing on the past or history, which serve to commemorate, and are displayed within public space (e.g. through memorials) or through cultural texts. The activities based on the socially distributed knowledge on the past times, past cultural practices, processes or characters associated with Cieszyn Silesia, the representations or scenes of the past brought to life through them, as well as diverse att itudes towards their interpretations and judgements thereof are analyzed alongside the issues of manifesting, creating and supporting the collective or cultural identity of the inhabitants of Cieszyn Silesia. These discussions also comprise the motif of the intersection, merging and competition of identities and identifi cations built around categories such as region, nation or faith. On this level, the reference to the past as well as proper interpretation and judgement of it serves to sustain the identity, legitimize the att itudes and values associated with it as well as to sustain the diff erences. The importance thereof stems from the borderland nature of Cieszyn Silesia. Cieszyn Silesia is a historical region which, due to political processes and decisions, has been divided by a border between the Republic of Poland and Czech Republic for over 90 years (from 1920 to 1945 the borderline was marginally relocated on several occasions). Therefore, it is mostly a Czech-Polish borderland. A number of Czech gminas of Frydek and Karwina powiats, especially those directly bordering the Czech and Polish border constitute the area referred to by the Poles as Zaolzie. At present it is inhabited by the Polish minority of less than 30 000 people; in turn, the Polish part of Cieszyn Silesia is relatively nationally homogeneous. It is worth remembering that in the Middle Ages this region was fought for by the nations led by Polish Piast dynasty and Czech Přemyslids. In the 14th century this area became part of the Kingdom of Bohemia as fi efdom. From 1526, when Ferdinand I was crowned the King of Bohemia, till 1918, it was governed by the House of Habsburg (since 1868 it was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire). A Polish and Czech military dispute about the national status of Cieszyn Silesia occurred in 1919 aft er the collapse of the Habsburgs. This issue emerged again in 1938, when Poland annexed Zaolzie. During World War II and the occupation period the majority of Cieszyn Silesia became part of the Third Reich. The return to the borders of 1920 happened in 1945. The location of the region and its political fate have made it a target of merging and infl uence, both Czech and Polish, for several centuries. Not without meaning were the infl uences of German language culture and the direct neighbourhood of the Kingdom of Hungary lands, which now are part of Slovakia. It should be mentioned that till the end of World War II and the following years this area was inhabited by the German speaking minority, which was signifi cant in terms of economy and had political representatives. The Silesian movement, whose supporters promoted the national separateness of Silesians, left its mark here, too. Cieszyn Silesia is quite diverse in terms of faith with the majority belonging to the Roman Catholic Church and the Lutheran Church of the Augsburg Confession (other faiths are also present). From the end of the 18th century Jews had their place in this social landscape as well. The author takes note of the practices and strategies of recalling the scenes of the past in the borderland of Cieszyn Silesia. The peripheral nature of the region juxtaposed with the political and administrative centres of both nations it is part of, causes the identities of its inhabitants to oscillate between three dimensions: the region, the nations and the eff ects of globalization (e.g. structures above the national scope, such as European Union). The author emphasizes the category of being “local”, which is expressed by the dialectal phrase of tu stela. It can comprise two levels: being considered part of a given town, that is local community or of a region. Being tu stela is confi rmed through, among others, the recollection of events connected with the past of the family or neighbourhood groups, the knowledge of both old and new social contexts and relationships, social ties, the identifi cation with the local dialect, culture, tradition and the knowledge of the history of the region and accepting it as one’s own. Being stela comprises the participation in the community that shares memory, regional signs and symbols, which are meant to protect the local identity from fading out of the national narrations and the infl uence of globalization. The regional identity is also subject to the infl uence of discourses (e.g. national ones) originating outside of the region, which, in turn, diversifi es the community in terms of the nation and splits it into diff erent national commemorative groups. This process also happens on the level of faith. This publication constitutes an att empt at grasping the social and cultural contexts of the functioning of historical and collective (social) memory, tradition or legacy as well as the methods for their usage in various spheres of social life. The author investigates the discourse the selected regional narrations created by the locals, and what they constitute. They are perceived not only in connection with the local cultural identity of individuals but also with the establishment of the signum loci and genius loci of the physical and geographical space. On this level, they are not only the object of interest in the past and tradition connected with the need of identity, but also part of the practices creating the cultural distinction of the region. The recollection of the representation of the past and local traditions is also analyzed in context of the activities within the scope of tourism (e.g. cultural one) since they are an element that generates the att ractions and the exotic atmosphere of the region. The author investigates the competitive discourse practices revolving around the past and the identity of the locals as well as the actions meant to constitute cultural or traditional representations of the past of Cieszyn Silesia. Therefore, he analyzes actions such as: the creation of memorials (monuments, memorial plates, private museums and exhibition rooms), the publishing of local monographs, regional calendars or guidebooks, the organization of cultural events associated with local traditions, legacies or the history of the region, the actions aimed at the cultivation or reintroduction of past traditions (e.g. herding ones), the certifi cation of tradition and its “subsidy”. The author also discusses commemorative groups operating in Cieszyn Silesia and various misunderstandings or antagonisms resulting therefrom.
ISBN: 9788380127814
Appears in Collections:Książki/rozdziały (WSiNoE)

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