Mikhail Alekseevsky

(The State Republican Center of Russian Folklore, Moscow, Russia)

Jewish areas on the mental map of a Ukrainian town:
the example of Mohylev-Podilsky

Abstract of the report on The 15th World Congress of Jewish Studies
Hebrew University, Mt. Scopus Campus, Jerusalem on August 2-6, 2009)

        A study of ethnic stereotypes, concerned with mental mapping of urban space, is of great importance for cultural geography of multi-ethnic regions. Stereotypic opinions concerning the place of residence of ethnic neighbors serve as a valuable material for the study of cross-cultural and interethnic communication in the area.
      Since the XVI century Ukrainian small towns of Podolia (Nemiryv, Tulchin, Balta, Mohilev-Podilsky) have been traditional places of residence for Jews. While all these towns were considered to be Ukrainian, Jews' activities had a great importance for the local culture. Using memories and stereotypic opinions of townsfolk we can reconstruct a mental map of a Ukrainian small town, where areas which specifically identified as Jewish have great importance.
      The paper is based on the material of field interviews, which was conducted in Mohylev-Podilsky in 2007-2008. The author examines the role of Jewish areas on mental map of the provincial Ukrainian town, analyses the difference in opinions on them among Jews and Ukrainians, considers a change in status of these areas in the XXI century, when the most of the Jewish population had left the town.

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