Le Foll, Claire
The “Belorussianisation” of the Jewish population during the interwar period: discourses and achievements in political and cultural spheres
East European Jewish Affairs, 38, (1), . (doi:10.1080/13501670801897510).
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The relationship and cultural transfer between Jews and Belorussians are still rather unexplored topics. This article aims at analysing a historical process neglected by the historians of both the Jewish people and the Soviet Union: the “Belorussianisation” of the Jewish people in the interwar period. It proposes to scrutinise the impact of the nationalities policy on the crystallisation of a Belorussian-Jewish identity. On the one hand, it is obvious that Belorussian leading political figures, influenced by Jewish intellectuals, proved to be very favourable to the development of the Jewish culture and to a Jewish-Belorussian rapprochement. On the other hand, this study suggests that the achievements of the Soviet nationalities policy with regard to the “Belorussianisation” of Jews were ambiguous. In the three fields studied - education, scholarship and art - the results appeared to be mitigated and paradoxical. The “indigenisation” policy led to a separation of the Jewish and Belorussian educational system but stimulated the flourishing of a joined Belorussian-Jewish scholarship. In contrast, the most profound and fruitful encounter between the Jewish and Belorussian cultures occurred in a domain, the visual arts, where the Belorussian government did not set a clear policy of rapprochement.
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