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Export citation Views: The article explores the connections between social, political, economic and ethnic processes in the Ukrainian-Romanian borderland. The aim is to describe how borderlanders work out strategies to overcome the contradictions inherent in the state border. The study is based on ethnographical fieldwork participant and non-participant observation conducted in a small town, a former mining centre, in the region of Transcarpathia in Western Ukraine.
First, the collapse of the communist dictatorships in Ukraine and Romania resulted in the opening of the border and an increase in cross-border contacts. However, in the first decade of the 21st century, Romania tightened its passport and visa regulations for Ukrainian citizens.
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Another factor is the complete disintegration of the mining industry and local labour market, resulting in significant changes in occupational patterns and a greater role of the border in respect of labour migration and shuttle trade. Keywords: borderland, real dynamics social dating online, Transcarpathia, ethnic minorities, strategically situated ethnography This article explores the correlations between social, political, economic and ethnic processes in the Ukrainian-Romanian borderland in the context of the European Union EU proximity and regional historical legacies.
Some of these phenomena — border infrastructure and its imprint in the local landscapevisa policies, local cross-border links and cooperation — can be seen as part of the wider processes associated with the eastern frontiers of the European Union in general.
Others are consequences of the catastrophic economic situation in Ukraine — unemployment, low wages, labour migration. Finally, aspects of ethnic composition and language usage are primarily embedded in the regional and local context. The study is based on ethnographical fieldwork conducted in a small town or to be precise, an urban-type settlement in the region of Transcarpathia in Western Ukraine.
In this article I focus on how the locally encountered daily life practices are shaped by the above-mentioned processes and contexts. I pay particular attention to changes of and at the state borders, as well as the consequences of economic and political developments in the region.
Thus, I present local specificity as set in history and in political processes related real dynamics social dating online the European integration EU expansioncross-border neighbourliness as well as border and visa policies.
I then argue that observed local strategies to overcome the lack of regular employment and poverty, including migration and shuttle trade, should be understood as a manifestation of individual and group agency under the conditions of an uncertain political and economic situation. A visitor, encountering one of the oldest local inhabitants, asks about his life. The visitor expresses surprise and how much of the world the old man has seen. A town at the changing border Transcarpathia or Transcarpathian District; Ukr.
The region is characterised by a mixed ethnic composition: apart from Ukrainians and a difficult to estimate number of people referred to as Rusyns or RutheniansTranscarpathia is inhabited by Hungarians, Romanians, Roma, Slovaks, Germans, Russians and other nations of the former USSR. Solotvyno Rom. Slatina, Hung.
However, I believe that the statistics should be seen merely as a rough indication, as there are a significant number of ethnically mixed families, unmeasured in terms of population statistics, whose ethnic identity is either unclear or different from the one declared in the census. There have also been recent social and demographic processes influencing the ethnic composition and social stratification like emigration or the settling of ethnic Romanians from the neighbouring, wealthier villages of Nyzhna Apsha Dibrova and Bila Tserkva.
The built-up area of Solotvyno ends only tens of metres from the river, which forms the state border. Until the s, the access line was demarcated by the posts and the no longer existing dismantled fence, while the border ran along the middle of the river, as it still does now.
Nowadays, some of the blue-yellow concrete border posts stand just a few metres from the inhabited buildings, but they no longer delimit the accessible space as the river bank is easily approachable.
It was only in independent Ukraine that crossing this border became possible, first by train from the nearby village of Teresva and only since that is, already after Romania introduced visa requirements for Real dynamics social dating online citizens across the Solotvyno-Sighet bridge.
The river can also be regarded as a boundary, separating territories of common history and similar ethnic and linguistic composition. Crossing the bridge to Sighet, Solotvynians are required to apply for visas that are issued by the Romanian Consulate in the city of Chernivtsy, at a distance of kilometres.
Obtaining a visa requires two visits, and the visa cost is 50 euros. Carrying it does not guarantee permission to cross the border. From the beginning of its existence — and the oldest mentions can be found in 14th century chronicles Makara ; Maryna 2 — until the first decade of the 21st century, Solotvyno was a salt-mining centre extraction stopped in Mines served as a main employer for the town and neighbouring villages.
Nowadays they not only do not operate but are either real dynamics social dating online or dismantled. Apartment blocks built by the Soviets lack central heating, and roads and pavements have not been repaired or renewed for years.
This kind of mobility can be described as circular see: Triandafyllidou ; Vertovec ; Wallace In this case, it means that migrant workers spend a certain amount of time in the place of destination without giving up their residence in Solotvyno. Others focus on small-scale shuttle trade see: Wallacehousehold farming or do small, seasonal work renovations, chopping wood, harvesting, farmingfixing cars and household equipment for their comparatively wealthier friends and neighbours.
This type of small work is unregistered and untaxed, and can often be described as mutual help rather than employment see: Williams Nonetheless, it plays a significant role in sustaining many households and their budgets.
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Although my study is geographically bound to one particular site, it still carries some characteristics of multi-location as, to quote Candea: In the spirit of multi-sited ethnography, I followed people, stories, metaphors and debates through multiple spaces both within the village and without, with a constant attention to the way such spaces were constituted Candea The visible collapse of the local mining industry viteză dating data asiei infrastructure which dominates the local landscape turns our attention to real dynamics social dating online context of political and economic changes and dating site rockhampton decline of industry and public investments in the post-communist countries.
The processes of securitisation and tightening the surveillance at its external borders, as well as labour migration and cross-border mobility provide the context of the outside, international and global conditionings of that particular site and its links to other places such real dynamics social dating online destinations of mobility, the European capital cities and decision centres.
State borders and international politics as well as the changes faced by industry and the patterns of employment observed in Solotvyno appear as implicated in what goes on in another related locale, or other locales, even though the other locales may not be within the frame of the research design or resulting ethnography Marcus The history of the region, with its real dynamics social dating online and territorial shifts, furthermore helps to embed the case study in macro-structures and to relate the site to the world as a whole, and to make historical connections between places, which in turn help us to advance in both our understanding of particular people and the refinement of theory Lapenga The fieldwork, which the following article is based on, was divided into two main visits although both real dynamics social dating online interruptedthe first from November till February and the second between November and May During that time I accompanied the employees of one of the communal institutions in their daily duties which left them plenty of time to share with me and to respond to my questionscar mechanics in their workshop, traders at the local market, and shuttle-traders in their cross-border visits.
I walked, cycled, travelled by cars and a horse-cart.
I spent hundreds of hours talking, listening and observing, and additional hours taking notes. As Karolina S. Follies puts it after Carol Greenhouse, ethnographic fieldwork is a relational practice linking knowledge production to the historical and local specificity of experience Greenhousecited from: Follis Ethnic minorities and the state part 1 : symbolism, languages, and inter-ethnic relations Ukrainian symbolism, such as flags, emblems and maps placed on the facilities as well as the uniforms and insignias, is visible mostly at the border checkpoint.
Ukrainian flags also fly at the two of the mine towers and, next to Romanian and Hungarian ones, on the local municipality building and the schools.
So does the monument to Bohdan Khmelnitsky — which stands in front of the Romanian school, facing Romania. Ukrainian script is seen mostly on the street signs and official information boards.
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It is comprehensible to the inhabitants but not many are fluent in it. In daily life it gives way to Russian, which serves as the local lingua franca. Most people I had a chance to interact with were sceptical of or reluctant towards the state language.
A common justification was the lack of contact and impossibility of learning it at a proficient level. Sometimes reluctance towards the language was accompanied by scepticism about the Ukrainian state as such. It is worth mentioning that the people declaring Russian ethnicity or mother tongue form a barely significant number of inhabitants.
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What is more, the place is hundreds of kilometres away from the Ukrainian or Moldovan territories densely populated by Russian speakers. It also makes the language neutral, neither favouring nor discriminating local ethnic groups. Unlike some Transcarpathian towns and villages inhabited by Hungarians, in Solotvyno there are no monuments or memorial boards referring to the Hungarian tradition or bilingual street names.
Admittedly though, street name signs in any language are quite rare. References to Hungarian history and culture are made mostly in direct oral statements, as individuals and entire families cultivate the memory of Hungarian past of the place and willingly talk about it. With regard to Romanian symbolism, a statue of the Moldovan prince Stephen the Great and Holy whose ancestors are believed to originate from northern Maramuresh was erected in the centre of Solotvyno in after almost three femeie ucraineană dating of preparations.
The Romanian writer Mihai Eminescu, after a similar period of time, has only been honoured with an empty pedestal in front of the Romanian school. However, Eminescu has been honoured with a street name, and so has George Coşbuc.
Romanian tradition is also cultivated through cultural events on the Great Real dynamics social dating online Day commemorating the Union of Romania with Transylvania and the Unification Day real dynamics social dating online unification of Moldavia and Valahia into the Kingdom of Romania.
None of these commemorated historical events concerned Solotvyno in terms of its geographical location. Still, Romanian TV especially music and entertainment channels as well as radio and music commonly played on mobile phones and passed around through Bluetooth are highly popular.
Local inter-ethnic relations can be traced in the numerous mixed families as well as everyday interactions in the workplaces or public spaces such as streets, market and shops. In such a diverse environment, the number real dynamics social dating online ethnically mixed marriages is difficult to assess but is unquestionably highas is the category of ethnic belonging.
This makes the ethnic boundaries blurred and the ethno-national categories arbitrary. Even those who declare a particular ethnicity have people of other ethnicities kinsmen and relatives in their families. Ethnic affiliation appears to be strictly declarative, and the category of mother tongue does not always apply.
References can occur in conversations in the form of occasional jokes sometimes accompanied by vicious remarks or mentions of the history and multi national legacies of the town and the regions of Transcarpathia and historical Maramuresh.
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This is accompanied by a widespread knowledge and frequent use of the different languages. Sustaining a conversation in the language it was started is common practice. In the past, having the same job played an important role in sustaining inter-ethnic relations. Another aspect of coexistence was swopping the shifts so that the co-workers of different confessional affiliation followed by the ethnic one could take part in their religious holidays. As I was told by one of my informants, Nationality [Rus.
This attitude could also be observed in leisure time real dynamics social dating online out together, switching between languages or occasional conversations in public places.
Various stereotypes are applied much more frequently to the ethnically Romanian villagers from neighbouring Dibrova and, to the lesser extent, Bila Tserkva. These stereotypes, which are commonly shared by Solotvnians of different ethnic identification and are not necessarily negative, are associated with their wealth and other local specificities, like strong family networks and a strong attachment to the land and to their villages of origin.
What I describe in this sub-section contributes to the processes of ethnic differentiation as observed in the borderlands, where both state and ethnic boundaries are subverted and negotiated Donnan, Wilson The attitudes towards Romania and Hungary with their inhabitants as well as Ukraine and Ukrainian citizenship, which also contribute to local ethnicity and differentiation, are elaborated in the next sub-section of the article.
Ethnic minorities and the state part 2 : other states, other citizenships The difficult economic situation has fuelled criticism of the Ukrainian state and its political elites.
However, Romania and Hungary are not necessarily seen as an alternative. However, we can speak of the similar exclusion with the real dynamics social dating online factor being even more visible, as almost all people travelling to Hungary identify themselves as Hungarians.