JAK WITRAŻ. RELIGIA I TOŻSAMOŚĆ W BIOGRAFICZNYM DOŚWIADCZENIU POLAKÓW NA WSPÓŁCZESNYM KRYMIE
AS A STAINED GLASS WINDOW. RELIGION AND IDENTITY IN THE BIOGRAPHICAL EXPERIENCE OF POLES IN CONTEMPORARY CRIMEA
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This article presents the relations between identity and religion based on biographical interviews with people of Polish decent currently living in Crimea. Poles in Crimea are a minority functioning in a multinational context, among 134 other nations. According to the last census nearly 4,000 people declared membership of the Polish group. The conducted research shows that persons of Polish decent are dispersed, constituting larger clusters in cities such as Simferopol, Sevastopol or Yalta. It is there that after 1991 Roman-Catholic parishes and associations of Poles have been established. The objectives of the associations are to integrate the dispersed communities, safeguard the remembrance of history and culture, as well as maintain ties with the homeland. The article considers the role of religion in relation to identity on three levels: the construction, maintainability, and change of identity. On the first level, a significant element repeatedly mentioned in the biographical narratives is baptism, as an initiation into the religious community, and celebrating Christmas and Easter. Baptism in the Orthodox rite was frequent in the researched group and, as it occurred, was a path to changing one's identity; similarly to mixed marriages. What is interesting, in maintaining one's identity an important role is played by identifying Polishness with Catholicism, also in the group of people who have a complex, contextual identity and, depending on this context, identify themselves as Poles or Russians. In all cases the recollections of lost coherent national and religious identity among the ancestors are kept alive. They are important in maintaining one's identity and take part in constructing the boundaries of group identity, mainly in relation to the Russians as a dominant group, and in differentiating Catholicism from Orthodoxy. In these comparisons Poles are characterized by higher culture, spirituality, linkages with the European tradition and the ability to treasure it. These functions are strengthened by a revival of Catholicism in Crimea, possible after the collapse of the Soviet Union and enabling the respondents to manifest the links between this religion and Polishness by means of participating in religious practices and organizing activities in a few Roman Catholic parishes.
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