THE MAN AT THE CULTURAL BORDERLAND
Humanities have recently become increasingly interested in the issue of frontiers and borderlands. There is even a new subdiscipline, which ethnologists and anthropologists call 'anthropology of borderness' and sociologists - 'sociology of borderlands'. It investigates relations between communities living at various borderlands (national, ethnic, cultural or regional), factors influencing the character of those relations and their consequences. Borderlands can be investigated from different perspectives, including geographical, historical, political, ethnographic, social, economic and cultural ones. They are also perceived as providing environment for the emergence of new people and new cultures. Some researchers claim that the man of borderland shares the culture and tradition of two or more communities. He functions in several cultural spheres and is to some extent rooted in each. He is aware of the cultural identity of various groups ('us' and 'others') but he is not interested in cultural isolation. He treats 'otherness' and 'difference' as positive phenomena fostering integration and development and he is not prone to stereotypical thinking. The authoress argues that such an image of the man of borderland can only be considered an idealized model. People who actually live at borderland territories or experience borderland situations rarely fulfill the above-mentioned criteria. They are men of borderland only because of their place of residence, not because of their attitudes. They live in a world where various cultures meet, they make various choices, but they do not necessarily adapt to 'other' patterns of behaviour. Neither are they free from stereotypical thinking, concerning both 'others' and 'us'. Many people do not accept multicultural reality and express that through their behaviour, which is often aggressive. One of possible methods to research cultural borderlands and the man of borderland is to analyze various biographical materials. The authoress quotes examples of such an approach, asking how living in a borderland or experiencing a borderland situation influences human attitudes and shapes particular features of character. She means to initiate an interdisciplinary discussion of cultural borderlands and men of borderland. The topics might include sources and methods of research used in various disciplines, factors influencing relations between neighbouring groups, possibilities of making choices, the impact of living in a borderland on the fate of communities and individuals, people's attitudes to their own group of reference and actions undertaken to preserve its cultural limits (which is a method to oppose assimilation). Another important issue is the problem of changes in borderlands and the ways in which they are experienced by men of borderland.
CEJSH db identifier