ROLE OF BLACK SEA-STEPPE OPPOSITION IN MEDIEVAL UKRAINIAN HISTORY IN LIGHT OF THE STUDIES OF M.HRUSHEVSKY
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In the framework of early historical studies in Ukraine, the 'Black Sea' and the 'Pontic Steppes' are traditionally regarded as complex entities bearing not only geographical and environmental, but also cultural, ethnic, and historical implications. Such was their widely-held status up to the beginning of the twentieth century, and today, this perspective is gradually regaining popularity in Ukrainian historiography based upon its importance for understanding ethnic, social, and economic processes over the entire territory of contemporary Ukraine, and especially so if one examines the two entities as opposing forces. In such a context, the Black Sea usually is regarded as a 'stable unit' contributing to (1) permanent settlement since the time of the Greek colonization, (2) intensive development of trade and a market economy leading to the growth of social inequality, and (3) the establishment of regular links with remote territories that promoted interethnic contacts. In general, the geographic and environmental conditions of the Black Sea coast can be regarded as favoring the formation of the Ukrainian nation. The social and ethnic history of the Pontic Steppes is deeply connected with the non-Slavonic nomad population of the Eurasian Steppes, the impact of which upon the formation of the Ukrainian ethnos can hardly be understood as positive: as is well-known from archaeology and written sources, their belligerent behavior toward the sedentary population of the Black Sea coast (in fact, the southern edge of the Ukrainian steppe zone) imposed severe restrictions on local economic development and, as a result, on the evolution of political and social processes.The present contribution will examine these traditional ideas of Ukrainian historiography in order to elaborate upon a balanced approach to understanding of role of the opposition between the Black Sea and the Pontic Steppes in early Ukrainian history.
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