Borderland of Nations, Religions and Cultures – The Case of Podlasie
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Podlasie, a historical and geographical region in north-eastern Poland, serves as both an external (interstate, European Union) and internal (ethnic, religious, linguistic, cultural) borderland. The primary aim of the article is to present historical and political conditions, national and cultural diversification of the Podlasie region, an analysis of current changes in ethnic and religious structure of the inhabitants as well as analysis of the consequences of changes of geopolitical circumstances in mutual relationships between different communities. Borderlands, especially those highly diverse in terms of nationality, religion, language and culture, are often identified with unstable, conflict-prone areas with past and present antagonism between nations sharing them. This belief has intensified over the last few decades when nationalisms, separatist tendencies and historical conflicts got sparked again in numerous regions of Central and Eastern Europe. However, not all European borderlands have to be stereotypically identified with areas of conflict, resentment and even hatred among the peoples inhabiting them. This is the case, among others, in Podlasie, where there are centuries-old traditions of cohabitation of diverse communities.