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Effacing Panslavism: Belief in Slavic Unity and Historiographic Misrepresentation

Monday, September 25, 2017, 5:30 pm

In the early nineteenth century, several Slavic intellectuals believed in a single Slavic nation speaking a single language, though positing various taxonomies of the nation’s component “tribes” and the language’s component “dialects.” Nevertheless, recent scholars, both historians and linguists, prove so extraordinarily unwilling to acknowledge the existence of Panslavism that several falsify the historical record so as to make historical figures conform to modern national and linguistic thinking. This paper discusses Jan Kollár, Ljudevit Gaj, and Ľudovít Štúr as three sample Panslavs, documents the misrepresentation of their ideas in recent historiography, and explores why so many scholars seek to erase Panslavism from the historical record.

Alexander Maxwell is senior lecturer in history at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. He is the author of Choosing Slovakia and Patriots Against Fashion. He also directs the Antipodean East European Study Group.