The Nation in the Village: The Genesis of Peasant National Identity in Austrian Poland, 1848–1914

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9780801438448: The Nation in the Village: The Genesis of Peasant National Identity in Austrian Poland, 1848–1914
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How do peasants come to think of themselves as members of a nation? The widely accepted argument is that national sentiment originates among intellectuals or urban middle classes, then "trickles down" to the working class and peasants. Keely Stauter-Halsted argues that such models overlook the independent contribution of peasant societies. She explores the complex case of the Polish peasants of Austrian Galicia, from the 1848 emancipation of the serfs to the eve of the First World War.

In the years immediately after emancipation, Polish-speaking peasants were more apt to identify with the Austrian Emperor and the Catholic Church than with their Polish lords or the middle classes of the Galician capital, Cracow. Yet by the end of the century, Polish-speaking peasants would cheer, "Long live Poland" and celebrate the centennial of the peasant-fueled insurrection in defense of Polish independence.

The explanation for this shift, Stauter-Halsted says, is the symbiosis that developed between peasant elites and upper-class reformers. She reconstructs this difficult, halting process, paying particular attention to public life and conflicts within the rural communities themselves. The author's approach is at once comparative and interdisciplinary, drawing from literature on national identity formation in Latin America, China, and Western Europe. The Nation in the Village combines anthropology, sociology, and literary criticism with economic, social, cultural, and political history.

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From the Inside Flap:

"Keely Stauter-Halsted's nuanced methodological approach is not only comparative but also broadly interdisciplinary. Original and compelling, The Nation in the Village represents the most sophisticated analysis of nationalism and national identity among the Polish peasantry in Galicia to date."--Robert Blobaum, West Virginia University

"What this impressive book does so effectively is to describe the changes in the mentality of the Galician peasantry in relation to changes in its socio-economic and political environment. Subtly argued and eminently readable, The Nation in the Village takes a dynamic approach to an important issue."--John-Paul Himka, University of Alberta

About the Author:

Keely Stauter-Halsted is Professor of History and Stefan & Lucy Hejna Family Chair in the History of Poland at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is the author of The Devil's Chain: Prostitution and Social Control in Partitioned Poland and The Nation in the Village: The Genesis of Peasant National Identity in Austrian Poland, 1848–1914.

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9780801489969: The Nation in the Village: The Genesis of Peasant National Identity in Austrian Poland, 1848–1914

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