The Creation of National Spaces in a Pluricultural Region: The Case of Prussian Lithuania

The Creation of National Spaces in a Pluricultural Region: The Case of Prussian Lithuania

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Vasilijus Safronovas

Series: Lithuanian Studies without Borders
ISBN: 9781618115249 (hardcover)
Pages: 464 pp.
Publication Date: December 2016

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This book is essential reading on the spatial concepts that two erstwhile neighboring cultures, Lithuanian and German, once associated with one physical space—a Lithuanian region in Prussia. Covering a period of five centuries, the author explores how, when, and, most importantly, why these concepts have been developed and transformed, regulating the spatial imagination of several generations. The study focuses on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, presenting the narratives, representations, and geographic conceptions of the region that existed in these two national cultures. The volume shows how knowledge about “their own” space ended up serving as a tool for both Lithuanian and German political aspirations and how it challenged the spatial concepts about this area in the previous century.


Vasilijus Safronovas is principal investigator at the Institute of Baltic Region History and Archaeology, at Klaipėda University. He has published widely on issues of memory, identity, and cultural contact. His recent study Kampf um Identität: Die ideologische Auseinandersetzung in Memel/Klaipeda im 20. Jahrhundert (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2015) was awarded the Immanuel-Kant-Forschungspreis from the German Federal Government.


Reviews

Maps are not made in a vacuum. In this geographically sophisticated book, Vasilijus Safronovas shows how Lithuania was formed by its diverse peoples as a space for interaction. Interrogating how the toponyms of East Prussia, Lithuania Minor, and Prussian Lithuania evolved as regions, and fed into modern nation-building, irredentist, or diasporic projects, the author skillfully analyzes the country’s social and political history. Making fine use of German, Polish, Lithuanian and Russian sources, he persuasively challenges us to reconsider the criteria behind Lithuania’s slew of mental maps—why some systems of meaning persisted, while others were suppressed or altered beyond recognition.
— Steven Seegel, University of Northern Colorado
Of all the regions of Lithuania, its far west—until 1920 under Prussian/German rule—is the least known. This book should change that by giving western readers a sophisticated, well-researched, and engagingly written overview of “Prussian Lithuania” and its importance in the history of the Baltic region. Emphasizing the tensions between diverging national and spatial conceptions, Safronovas makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the role this region played in the development of Lithuanian national identity.
— Theodore R. Weeks. Southern Illinois University, Carbondale

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
List of Figures


Introduction
Chapter 1. East Prussia: An Arena for Cultural Meetings and Conflicts
Chapter 2. Lithuania in Prussia: Changing Concepts in the Sixteenth to Nineteenth Centuries
Chapter 3. Lithuania as a Peculiar Region of Germany (1850s–1910s)
Chapter 4. The Invention of Lithuania Minor (1870–1910s)
Chapter 5. Interaction of the German and Lithuanian Concepts of Prussian Lithuania in the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries
Chapter 6. Battles over Spaces "of Their Own”: Changes after 1918
Concluding Remarks

Bibliography
Index of Names
Geographic Index
Subject Index