This book argues that – contrary to contemporary Lithuanian nationalist rhetoric – Lithuanian nationalism was modern and socially constructed in the period from the emergence of the Lithuanian national movement in the late nineteenth century to the birth of an independent state in 1918. The book brings into sharp focus those aspects of the history of Lithuania that earlier commentators had not systematically explored: it shows how, in this period, the nascent political elite fashioned its own and the emerging nation’s identity. Moreover, factors such as the elite’s social isolation, educational experience, marital strategies and narrowly based, fragmented and uncoordinated political activities were crucial factors in shaping identity and nation-building. It demonstrates how the elite was often in conflict with the peasantry, the religious establishment and other ethnic groups, and how critical considerations such as class, religion, displacement and ethnicity – rather than national ideology – were. The book’s conclusion that Lithuanian nationalism is a construct emerging from modern social forces is highly significant for understanding nationalism and contemporary political developments in Eastern Europe more generally.
Table of Contents
Introduction 1. Social and Historical Dimensions of Lithuanian Nationalism Prior to 1905 2. Making the Urban Élite, 1883–1905 3. In Search of the People: The 1905 Revolution 4. The National Intelligentsia and the Women’s Issue 5. In Search of the Nation’s Culture: Cultural Politics of Discipline, 1907–1914 6. Nation in Exile: War, Displacement and Nation-Making, 1914–1918
Tomas Balkelis is AHRC Research Associate in History at the University of Manchester, UK. His research interests include nationalism, nation-building, population displacement, forced migrations and war memory in Eastern Europe.
'Based on the writings of the Lithuanian intelligentsia (newspapers, journals, memoirs, diaries) during the period of national formation and demonstrating a thorough acquaintance with secondary works in several languages, this important book immediately takes its place as the standard work on the making of the Lithuanian nation while being a welcome addition to the growing literature on nationalism. Summing Up: Essential. Graduate students, faculty.' - K. C. O'Connor, Gonzaga University, Choice, February 2010