BELARUS: A BORDERLAND CIVILIZATION OR CIVILIZATION OUTSKIRTS? SOCIOLOGICAL REFLECTION
The concept of civilizations plays an important role in the current scientific literature. Some authors select a particular number of civilizations. For other authors it is an open question how many civilizations exist: the answer depends on the criteria applied. The paper discusses the concept of the borderland civilization that relates to the countries (space) and people (cultural communities living in this space), situated 'between' the two 'key cultural groupings' (in Samuel Huntington's sense) and inevitably combines some features from both of them. The authoress argues that, firstly, the population on today's Polish-Lithuanian-Belarusian border constitutes a particular borderland civilization where the local identity dominates over national or ethnic identities. Although other identities might be in use here, the population of this borderland region primarily considers itself as 'local' where multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious communities have existed for centuries. Secondly, the current Belarus itself can be viewed as a case of a borderland sub-civilization: throughout its history it has been constantly influenced by Latin (Western) and Byzantine (Eastern) civilizations that resulted in Belarusian cultural pluralism, high level of religious and ethnic tolerance, and local self-identification of the population. Therefore, there is no 'choice' for Belarus to belong to one 'pure' civilization: it is destined to exist in the borderland. From this approach, current Belarus is not 'civilization outskirts': it is a sub-civilization with all the attributes such as culture, values, ideas of history, and supra-national socio-cultural community of people.
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