6
Slovakia in Czech National
Consciousness

ZDENĚK SUDA

In the discussion that follows an attempt will be made to identify the place Slovakia and the Slovaks have taken in modern Czech national consciousness. It will be undertaken with the purpose of determining to what extent the specific perception of the Slovaks by the Czechs and of the links between the two ethnic groups contributed to what eventually became the so-called 'Slovak problem' for the Czechs and was responsible for the dissolution of a political home shared over three-quarters of a century.

The concept of national consciousness in general is not easy to define. This may be the reason why it has not been addressed too often among the academic community. Its reality and importance have nonetheless been proven by the acuity of the crises that have erupted whenever the perception of collective identity has been in doubt. The case of Slovakia is one of such occurrences, which have been characteristic of Central and Eastern Europe. As will be shown later, it has been, among other things, the lack of clarity of Slovak national consciousness that rendered Czech-Slovak relations difficult to the point of intractability. National consciousness as such could best be described as a set of points and coordinates in space (the geographical situation of a nation) and time (a common historical experience), serving individuals in modern societies in expressing their identity as members of a national collective. Naturally, this definition also applies to the Czech case.


The Characteristics of
Modern Czech National Consciousness

The subject of Czech national consciousness as such would no doubt merit a more extensive treatment than allowed by the present volume, which

-106-

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