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Bekus-Goncharova, Nelly:

Constructing Post-Soviet Belarusian Identity: Efficiency of the Cold War Legacy in Defining the “Belarusianness”

In the paper, I propose for the conference, I would like to show the way in which the Cold War legacy has been influencing the Belarusian postcommunist political development.

Belarus is one of the post-Soviet states, where the logic of the East-West bipolarity typical for the Cold War political thinking has been preserving its efficiency until now.

The Belarusian official discourse vigorously uses the contraposition scheme “we – other/West relations as a starting point in the description of what Belarusianness is (according to the official interpretation).  The Belarusian idea represented by the official ideology is reduced, in fact, to the country’s location within the geopolitical framework of the Eastern-Slavic, Russo-centric civilization, which pre-defines main content of the ‘Belarusian idea’ and its cultural and civilizational opposition to the West.

Thus, the rhetoric of ideological and military contraposition borrowed from the Cold War era has been re-formulated by the Belarusian official discourse into the civilizational, cultural and religious opposition between “we” and “West”.

Oppositional political discourse in Belarus diametrically opposes this official definition of Belarusianness with own version of the Belarusian idea. However, their concept of Belarusianness is built on the similar logic of bipolar opposition. Major change, which occurs here, is the shift of the border between ‘we’ and ‘other’ to the Eastern border of the country. In the oppositional context, this civilizational borderline divides Belarus and Russia.

The ideological struggle between the two discourses of the Belarusianness in public space transforms the logic of bipolarity, which used to divide the external world, into the split inside the Belarusian society.

Saturday 31 Oct 9.30-11.30 SESSION 7
Panel: Constructing Post-Cold War Europe: "New Europe" and the EU