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What nation? Peasants, memory and national identity in Poland

Nations and Nationalism

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["Nations and Nationalism, Volume 27, Issue 2, Page 467-481, April 2021. ", "\nAbstract\nIn the article, I analyse the ways in which peasants built their national identity within the Polish territories. The 16th century saw the emergence of the so‐called “noble democracy” founded upon the idea of “the Polish nation.” This “noble democracy,” constructed in opposition to the figure of king, was organized around the notion of civil liberty, the right to ownership and the right to decide about the state affairs. Yet, it put peasants outside of the framework of the nation. After the collapse of the state and the partitions, the founders of the modern idea of the nation within the Polish territories in the 19th century referred to that “(noble) democratic” tradition of the nation. To them, this gesture was an act of resistance against the politics of the states that had conducted the partitions. The tradition, however, became a dominant one. Peasants then build the national identity on the basis of the 16th‐century tradition which excluded them from the body of the nation, and I call this prothesis of identity.\n"]