The Russian okrainy (Oкраины) and the Polish kresy: objectivity and historiography

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The Russian term okrainy and the Polish concept of kresy tend to refer to the same spatial area, or the non-Russian and non-Polish nation-states that after the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union extend between the Russian Federation and Poland. From the late nineteenth century through the interwar period, both the terms okrainy and kresy underwrote the Russian and Polish territorial expansion and the mission civilisatrice in these areas, most visibly exemplified by the policies of Russification and Polonization, respectively. Frequently, Russification was compounded with the state-supported spread of Orthodox Christianity, while in Polonization's case with that of Roman Catholicism. These two terms, okrainy and kresy, fell out of official use during the communist period, but resurfaced in Russia and Poland for a variety of ideologized ends by the turn of the twenty-first century, with little respect for the countries and nations concerned.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)347-368
Number of pages22
JournalGlobal Intellectual History
Issue number4
Early online date27 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2019


  • 'Civilizing mission'
  • Kresy
  • Imperialism
  • Nationalism
  • Okrainy
  • Poland
  • Poland-Lithuania
  • Post-Polish-Lithuanian states
  • Russia


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