Storozhnitsa Fieldsite in Western Ukraine
Primary Site Researcher
Dr. Kanovsky is an Associate Professor of Social Anthropology at the Comenius University, Bratislava, Slovakia. He received his PhD from Comenius University in 1999 (his dissertation being entitled Semantical Analysis of Narratives), and two M.A.’s, one in History in 1994, and another in Philosophy in 1996. He has done research in the village Storozhnitsa, located in Western Ukraine (Transcarpathia). His broad academic interest cover some areas of cognitive anthropology, including social classifications (race and ethnicity), essentialist thinking, and folk sociology in general.
Storozhnitsa, Western Ukraine, south-west of the administrative town of Uzhgorod (district Transcarpathia).
About 2,400 in July, 2004.
Group Identity / Ethnicity/Language
The ethnic structure of the village is 61 % Ukrainians, 22 % Slovaks, 15 % Hungarians and the rest are Romani (Gypsies), Russians and Rusyns (Ruthenians). Ethnically mixed marriages are not exceptional, and the vast majority of inhabitants are bi- or trilingual. Neither ethnic conflicts, nor ethnic hatred is expressed or encountered. Sometimes people express some prejudicies and stereotypes speaking about Roma and Ukrainians, but mostly in the form of jokes and mockery. Originally, the village was composed of three ethnic groups: Slovaks, Hungarians, and Russyns. Ukrainians (from Eastern and Northern Ukraine) have been settled there after 2nd World War by the Soviet authorities
Most people use agriculture making their living. Even people who are employeed by the State (teachers, officials, etc.) are dependent on the land as an additional source of food to keep and/or to sell on the market, for their salaries are paid irregularly. There is electricity in the village, but its supply is far from being reliable.
In Storozhnitsa, four religious denominations are present: Catholicism, Byzantine (or Greek) Catholicism, Orthodox Church, and Protestantism (Helvetic – Calvinian – Confession). There are three churches in the village (Catholic, Byzantine Catholic, Orthodox).
Formally, the political head of the village is the mayor elected by the people for 4 years. His authority is very limited and he has very little influence in everyday life. More important role is reserved for heads of families and leaders of local ethnic associations (Slovak, Hungarian). Unlike ethnic identity proper, these ethnic association are organized according to ambilineal descent rules (the filiation is rather postulated than real and people can choose their membership). Since some formal documents are required by Slovak and Hungarian authorities to confirm that a child has the right to study (or a citizen of Ukraine the right to obtain the work permission), being "Hungarian/Slovak living abroad", leaders of such association are very respected. Usuallly they are ceremonial leaders during the cultural events as well. The other source of local authority is religion: religious leaders (priests of all four Christian denominations and local people appointed by them to fulfill particular tasks) are honoured and respected.
There is an elementary school (9 grades) in the village. The level of literacy is close to 100 % (Transcarpathia was the part of former Austran-Hungarian Empire and the Czechoslovak Republic with very good quality of elementary education). After they finish the elementary school, children visit second level educational institutions in Uzhgorod. Many families try to send their children to Hungary or Slovakia to finish their education there.
There is a resident ambulance for adults in the village. Parents with their children may visit a hospital in the local center Uzhgorod. The access to health care is relatively good, the equipment is not obsolete and people are treated well. The main problem is that people are obliged to pay for any additional treatment since the state insurance covers very little amount of healthcare. This payment is very often unofficial (bribery) or semi-official. Some families are in debts and financial problems because of their lack of sources to pay for health care.
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Google Earth KMZ files for Storozhnitsa. NB: right-click on these files & save to your computer.
Martin Kanovsky (forthcoming). Essentialism and Folksociology: Ethnicity Again. Journal of Cognition and Culture.
Peter Jordan and Mladen Klemencic (Eds.) (2004). Transcarpathia -bridgehead Or Periphery: Geopolitical And Economic Aspects And Perspectives Of A Ukrainian Region (Wiener Osteuropastudien, Bd. 16). Peter Lang Publishing.
Vincent Shandor (1998). Carpatho-Ukraine in the Twentieth Century: A Political and Legal History (Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute Publications). Harvard University Press.
Paul Magosci (1978). Shaping of a National Identity: Subcarpathian Rus’, 1848-1948. Harvard University Press.
J. Batt (2002). Transcarpathia: Peripheral Region at the ‘Centre of Europe’. In J. Batt and K. Wolczuk (Eds.) Region, State and Identity in Central and Eastern Europe, pp 155-177. Frank Cass.
J.A. Dickinson (2005). Gender, Work, and Economic Restructuring in a Transcarpathia (Ukraine) Village. Nationalities Papers, 33.3, 387–403.