From the Thesis Abstract...
In the early twenty-first century the issue of national self-determination remains an emotive topic. In 2008, three of the most prominent global news stories have focused on questions revolving around the self-determining status of Kosovars, Tibetans and South Ossetians. However, not all appeals to national self-determination are equal: without subjecting a a nationalist claim to
analysis, we cannot automatically assume it represents widespread ethnonational sentiment.
One self-declared stateless people in Eastern Central Europe which receives little mainstream global attention is the Carpatho-Rusyn community. Amongst self-determination movements, the Carpatho-Rusyn project is nevertheless controversial, because it represents an unusual attempt by regional political and academic elites to establish an ethnonational identity which conflicts with the ethnonational identity of an already existing national state: Ukraine.
Is there a credible case for Rusyn National Self-Determination in Ukraine?
The principle of National Self-Determination contends that communities with national identities may
rightfully determine their own affairs without being wholly subordinate to an external administration. But when does an ethnographically idiosyncratic regional community qualify as a nation?
A cursory examination of shifting state borders over the last two centuries indicates that [...] four types
of nation-building project - all driven by rival groups of elites seeking to attain and maintain power -
are in constant competition [...] Significantly we see that – contrary to the primordialist historian's contention -
ethnonational identities often emerge after, rather than before, polity formation.
[...] in order to legitimate their project and discredit the opposition's, Ukrainian ethnonation builders attempt to portray the Carpatho-Rusyns as territorially-motivated [...] ethno-secessionists, while Carpatho-Rusyn ethnonation builders contend that the Ukrainians are state-oriented [...] ethno-imperialists.
Arguably, unlike most minority questions which focus on how to justly accommodate already established ethnic groups within state-building projects, the Carpatho-Rusyn Question is more fundamentally concerned with ethnonational identity boundaries: in fact, it is as much about Ukrainian ethnonation-building as it is about Carpatho-Rusyn ethnonation-building.