Vitryssland eller Belarus?: Namnskick, långdistansnationalism och identitetspolitik


  • Per Anders Rudling Lunds universitet, Sverige


In 2019, the Swedish government officially switched terminology from using the traditional endogenous term Vitryssland to the exogenous Belarus. Vitryssland (lit: White Russia) had been in use in the Swedish language since the 17th century, and the decision was neither easy nor swift. There was no consensus about the utility of the change, and significant opposition from linguists and editors against abandoning a term which had emerged and become established over centuries of contact. The debate preceding the switch was often shrill, led by activists and steeped in identity politics. In fact, controversies regarding what to call the country were nothing new, highlighting diverging visions of its geopolitical and cultural position between East and West. Discussions mirrored the far more emotional and polarized discussions among Belarusian nationalists in the 20th century, which at times became violent. KryviaByelorussiaGreatlitva were but some of contenders. This article is an attempt to place discussions about the Swedish terminology in the larger context of history, memory, geopolitics and identity politics.

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Per Anders Rudling, Lunds universitet, Sverige

Wallenberg Academy Fellow, Historiska institutionen



Hvordan sitere

Rudling, P. A. (2021). Vitryssland eller Belarus?: Namnskick, långdistansnationalism och identitetspolitik. Nordisk Østforum, 35, 210–235.





Belarus, long distance nationalism, endonyms, Rus’, Belarusian-Swedish relations