Coordinates of a new national historiography

Arche 1/2019

‘Arche’ (Belarus) gives the coordinates of a new national historiography, discusses the publishing sector in the short-lived Belarusian People’s Republic, and uncovers the roots of the aristocratic Chodkiewicz family, sixteenth-century magnates of the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth.

Those wanting to emphasise contemporary Belarus’s historical orientation toward the West have two points of reference. One is the Belarusian People’s Republic, which existed for around nine months in 1918. The other is the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, to which the Belarusian cultural space belonged until the end of the eighteenth century. This tendency can be seen in contributions to the new issue of Arche, which plot the coordinates of a new national historiography.

Press and publishing

Historians Uladzimir Lyachouski and Andrey Charniakevich study the history of publishing in the People’s Republic. This is, as they say themselves, pioneering work, since this history has ‘until now not emerged as a special topic of research’. They show how a rich publishing sector developed during the period, including official publications, numerous newspapers of various political colours, printing presses, and publishing houses. At the end of the Republic, many of its supporters emigrated to Prague or Kaunas, where they continued publishing. ‘Although their political initiatives were not always successful, the cultural value of their self-sacrificing work in the publishing sector cannot be underestimated, nor can its importance for the national movement.’


Lithuanian historian Gianutse Kirkene traces the roots of the aristocratic Chodkiewicz family, who became magnates of the Polish-Lithuanian commonwealth in the sixteenth century. Family members, who served as warlords, were based in the territories of what today is Hrodna, Navahrudak, Orsha, and the Podlachia region. Kirkene tries to shed light on the prehistory of the family and its founder, Chodko Jurewicz, a nobleman of Ruthenian roots and Orthodox faith who acted as witness to the union between Poland and Lithuania in 1434.

This article is part of the 16/2019 Eurozine review. Click here to subscribe to our reviews, and you also can subscribe to our newsletter and get the bi-weekly updates about latest publications and news on partner journals.

More articles from Arche in EurozineArche’s website

Published 19 September 2019
Original in English
First published by Eurozine

© Eurozine



Subscribe to know what’s worth thinking about.

Related Articles

Cover for: Belarus – eine res publica

Hunderttausende Menschen sind in Belarus im ganzen Land auf die Straße gegangen. Sie fordern Präsident Lukašenka auf, seine Wahlniederlage anzuerkennen. Das Regime hat die Taktik gewechselt. Statt auf Gewalt setzt es nun auf Aussitzen. Die Philosophin Ol’ga Šparaga und der Direktor des European College of Liberal Arts Aljaksandr Adamjanc über den Charakter der Revolution, die Strukturen der Bewegung und die Risse im Regime.

Cover for: For a Belarusian res publica!

The nationalist opposition in Belarus has been marginalized, argues Coordination Council member Olga Shparaga. National heroes and vertical power structures no longer have popular appeal. The focus is instead on peaceful cooperation, social inclusion and the soft power of women.