A Tale of Two Piedmonts: Cross-border Communist Movements and Weaponized Nationalism in the Polish-Soviet Borderlands, 1921-1939


Wednesday, April 7, 2021, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Zoom (registration required) and YouTube (public)

Marcel Garboś, Doctoral Student, Department of History, Harvard University
Moderated by Terry Martin

Register to join the Zoom session (space is limited) or watch live on YouTube.

Historical Map of Poland showing ethnic distribution. Source: https://wielkahistoria.pl/przedwojenna-polska-na-mapach-6-planow-ktore-perfekcyjnie-obrazuja-odrodzenie-rzeczpospolitej/



This presentation constructs an intellectual genealogy of Polish and Soviet attempts at mobilizing cross-border Belarusian and Ukrainian populations following the conclusion of the Peace of Riga in 1921. These efforts at harnessing the supposedly disruptive and revolutionary force of nationalism arose as a method by which to conduct the struggle for the Polish-Soviet borderlands by other means once open hostilities had died down. As the Soviet case shows, however, employing weaponized nationalism in practice brought its own share of unforeseen challenges as Belarusian and Ukrainian communists in Poland proved to be more than the subservient handmaidens of their patrons in Minsk, Kharkiv, and Kyiv. To establish a comparative context, Garboś explains the considerable divergences between the Belarusian and Ukrainian experiences in the 1920s and discuss various Polish paradigms for turning the "eastern borderlands" (kresy wschodnie) into the springboards of an anti-Soviet "national revolution."

About the Speaker

Marcel GarbosMarcel Garboś is an intellectual historian of nineteenth and twentieth century Eurasia with an enduring focus on nationalism, internationalism, and empire in the former imperial Russian and Soviet spaces. His ongoing dissertation project follows internationalist thinkers from the late imperial Russian and early Soviet borderlands who attempted to develop alternatives to the Bolshevik system of ethnically based federalism. Born in Upstate New York, he regularly travels to Poland to visit relatives, many of whom are originally from present-day western Belarus.

Moderator: Terry Martin, George F. Baker III Professor of Russian Studies, Department of History, Harvard University

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Persons with disabilities who wish to request accommodations or who, have questions about access, please contact Megan Duncan Smith, HURI Programs Coordinator, at duncansmith@fas.harvard.edu in advance of the session (at least two weeks prior, if possible).

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