Inhaltspezifische Aktionen

DFG-Projekt: Der Białowieża-Nationalpark. Mensch, Tier und Umwelt in der polnisch-weißrussischen Grenzregion

The Białowieża National Park. Man, Animal and Environment in the Polish-Belarusian Borderland; Laufzeit: 1.2.2014-31.1.2017

The primeval forest of Białowieża is situated roughly equidistant from Warsaw and Minsk, in a traditional Polish-Belorussian contact zone where national definitions – in contrast to religious and social ones – only started to play a significant role quite late on. This was the social environment of Polish landed nobility, Jewish traders and Belorussian and Ukrainian farmers. From the outgoing 19th Century up until the Second World War most people in this socio-economically neglected region still considered themselves to be "local ones", without ethnic or national affiliation. Although political borders were changed several times, somewhat arbitrarily, as part of the formation of nation states in the first half of the 20th Century, thereby dividing up the area of the primeval forest, the population remained attached to its traditional way of life. In this regard it was only the Soviet deportations, the National Socialist expulsions and the Holocaust during the Second World War which constituted major turning-points. In addition, the primeval forest was a place of retreat for rare animals and plants, and a hunting area for Polish kings, Russian tsars, Soviet secretary-generals and wealthy tourists from all over the world, as well as the occasional scene of an extensive use of resources, in particular wood. The symbol of Białowieża is the bison, the largest land mammal in Europe, which was almost eradicated during the First World War. The history of its re-breeding and re-introduction to the wild is unique.

The aim of the project is to present a monograph, meeting with Cultural Studies standards, on competing spatial concepts for the Białowieża National Park. This park was established by the Second Polish Republic in 1932 and extended by the Republic of Belarus in 1991, and in the Soviet Union it had the status of an exclusive state forest from 1957 on. The focus will be on questions related to the institutional and personnel governance of the region under different political systems, above all with regards to the approaches taken towards nature as a resource and reserve, as well as the everyday life of the population and its confrontation both with external factors and the familiar habitat. Against the background of the often dramatic history of the 20th Century, both a regional and a transnational micro-historical approach is planned in this exploration of a region which has been ever-present in the respective cultures of remembrance.

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