This broad-ranging and pathbreaking book, made up of contributions from leading scholars of the different national and religious groups that made up the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, seeks to describe in a critical manner how these groups coexisted in the more than two centuries from the creation of this state until its partition by Russia, Austria, and Prussia at the end of the eighteenth century. It then analyzes the way this diversity has persisted until the present day and how the Commonwealth is remembered today in the countries that have emerged on its former territory. It is essential reading for all those interested in the modern history of Europe and for those who seek to understand the conflicts that still affect the lands of the former Commonwealth.
The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (1569–1795) was once the largest country in Europe—a multicultural republic that was home to Belarusians, Germans, Jews, Lithuanians, Poles, Ruthenians, Tatars, Ukrainians, and other ethnic and religious groups. Although long since dissolved, the Commonwealth remains a rich resource for mythmakingin its descendent modern-day states, but also a source of contention between those with different understandings of its history.Multicultural Commonwealth brings together the expertise of world-renowned scholars in a range of disciplines to present perspectives on both the Commonwealth’s historical diversity and the memory of this diversity. With cutting-edge research on the intermeshed histories and memories of different ethnic and religious groups of the Commonwealth, this volume asks how various contemporary conceptions of multiculturalism can be applied to the region through a critical lens that also seeks to understand the past on its own terms.
Stanley Bill is associate professor of Polish studies and director of the Slavonic Studies Section at the University of Cambridge. He is the author of Czesław Miłosz’s Faith in the Flesh: Body, Belief, and Human Identity, coeditor of The Routledge World Companion to Polish Literature, and translator of Miłosz’s novel The Mountains of Parnassus.
Simon Lewis is associate professor of Eastern and Central European cultural history at the University of Bremen. He is author of Belarus—Alternative Visions: Nation, Memory, and Cosmopolitanism, coauthor of Remembering Katyn, and coeditor of Regions of Memory: Transnational Formations.