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Imperiia: a spatial history of the Russian Empire

Kharkov and Roots of Nationalism

The nationalist movement in the nineteenth century was a set of sparks that paralleled one another, each distinct in its goals and desired outcomes in forming the Ukrainian identity. Kharkov was placed right in the middle of this movement and had profound impact on the scholars and intellectuals involved. The roots of the time period can be traced to the issue of Cossack identity within the Russian Empire.

From 1785 to 1835, the Russian Empire went back and forth when trying to decide how to integrate the Cossack elite into the Russian societal structure. The Empire struggled with trying to decide whether or not the Cossack elite were the same status as the Russian elite. The Cossacks were torn between trying to conform to Russian standards of the elite and their own identity within their class structure. This resulted in tracing the history of the Ukrainian Cossacks and their relationship with the Empire in order to discern their place in Russian society. Because of this rise in Ukrainian research, histories of Ukraine began to pop up in the literary circles. The Ukrainian people became interested in their history.

The beginning of the nineteenth century also showed a rise in Ukrainian folklore, including literature and music. Folklorists aimed to differentiate Ukrainian folklore from Russian folklore, which resulted in the rise of Ukrainian folklore. These works had an immense impact on Ukrainian intellectuals who were researching their indigenous culture.

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