The thing about Galicia is very few people have ever heard of it. It shares its name with an autonomous community in north west Spain but there is little more in common. If you have had the good fortune of visiting Kraków’s old town square in the winter, you may have had a glass of mulled wine called Grzaniec Galicyjski, or in English, Galician Wine. Your intuition may suggest the grapes were grown on the sides of the valleys around the river Tâmega on the Iberian Peninsula, but that would be far from the case.
The Galicia of old occupied land straddled between modern day Poland and Ukraine but disappeared from the map of Europe in 1918, along with the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Although long gone, the name still resonates with some, conjuring up either an Arcadian view of enlightenment, or barbarism and abject poverty. The reality was more the latter than the former but this hasn’t prevented the reimagining of Galicia as a beacon of hope, self-determination and identity.
This reimagining of time and place is not especially unique, there are countless examples of how historical events, places and people have been reinterpreted. The machinations and reasons for parts of history being funnelled, framed, and reinterpreted are probably best understood in how it might bolster the interests of a particular demographic or even an entire nation.
The material for this lesson could be used for group work, self-study or set for homework. There is scope to research the historical and geographical region of Galicia before reading an extensive text, which delves into the topic further.
The text has a vocabulary glossary but no comprehension questions as it would be expected that any collaborative speaking would spring naturally from the text itself. Please note, the article comes from economist.com and may require you to register with an email in order to read it. Finally, there is an opportunity to extend the theme by looking at other examples of how history may have been intentionally reimagined to serve different interest.
You can download the materials here: Galicia. A successful Austrian invention
If you are interested in learning more about Galicia, I can highly recommend this lecture, The Myth of Galicia by Martin Pollack.
Image: By Samhanin – Own work, source: Wappen Königreich Galizien & Lodomerien.png, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66297128