Who are we? Where are we headed? The Kashubian ethnicity
Institute of Regional Studies Jagiellonian University Cracow, Poland
Who are we? Where are we headed? The Kashubian ethnicity.
When researching Kashubians, one of the minorities inhabiting Poland, I have observed a process of transformation of inner-group discourse pertaining to the group´s ethnic status. The discussions and ventures of the group' s leaders, as they remain in the center of my research interests, related to numerous issues, like "Who are Kashubians?" and the most crucial issue for ideological thinking, i.e. 'Who should the Kashubians be?' These are fundamental questions to entities engaged in the identity politics, whose basic aim is to mobilize fellow countrymen to act in the name of a shared collective vision - the ethnic 'We'. The key issue in this case is that within the community there is no agreement on the fundamental issue, i.e. the ethnic status of the said 'We'. The sociological research on the collective identity of the community members reveals a complex character of the identification project within which Polishness and Kashubianness are located and which remain toward each other in a different configuration as regards the symbolic content of the project, the importance of a given identification as well as the degree of awareness or habituation of each of the elements. We deal here with a complex identity in the ethno-cultural aspect.
I´ll show two dimensions of the Kashubian identity discourse. Firstly, I´ll present an analysis of ways in which Kashubianness is conceptualized, i.e. how the leaders respond to the question 'Who are Kashubians?' as a community. Secondly, I´ll show consequences of a given vision of collective characteristics for the actions within the identity politics as it is a derivative to a great degree of how they said 'We' is defined, which consequently influences placing the group in relation to the dominating group (e.g. as an ethnic minority, a regional or language group or a separate nation or part of the Polish ethnos). In my analysis I´ll consider both the wider historical, cultural and social context of the relations between the dominating group and the Kashubian minority, the character of cultural resources of the group, and the identity rhetoric exercised by its leaders.