Recent Research on the North Caucasus — Autumn 2018

A quarterly report highlighting recent scholarly publications relating to the contemporary North Caucasus.

Inclusion does not constitute endorsement. If there are any publications I’ve missed or you think should be included in the next report, please flag it via Twitter or email.

Sahakyan (2018) ‘Language Debate and Visions of the Future in Revolutionary Dagestan’ 

Abstract: The collapse of the old order in the Russian Empire in 1917 gave an opportunity to intellectuals on imperial borders to draft and implement their own visions of the future. The language debate in Dagestan was crucial in these plans given the multi-national character of the country. While Muslim scholars agreed on the importance of language, their opinions differed in the choice of Arabic, Turkic, various Dagestani languages or Russian. On the basis of Muslim periodicals, historical tracts of the period and official reports of political meetings, this paper examines the positions of Dagestani ʿulamāʾ on the political significance of language. I argue that at a time of revolution different concepts of the state demanded a certain language profile at schools. There is a direct link between the choice of a political project and a preferred language of instruction.

Reference: Sahakyan, Naira (2018) ‘Language Debate and Visions of the Future in Revolutionary Dagestan,’Caucasus Survey, 6:2, pp. 147-162, DOI: 10.1080/23761199.2018.1466603

Lanzillotti (2018) ‘Towards an Explanation of Intercommunal Peace in Kabardino-Balkaria: Post-War Nationalities Policy and Late Soviet Society in the North Caucasus’

Abstract: This essay examines socio-economic processes during the Soviet period to help explain the causes of peace and conflict in the post-Soviet North Caucasus. It argues that the absence of an ethnically stratified social structure in Kabardino-Balkaria is one of the reasons why this republic enjoyed relative intercommunal peace and stability in the 1990s and early 2000s. By contrast, the surrounding national republics of the North Caucasus that came out of the Soviet era with socio-economic disparities along ethnic lines witnessed higher levels of intercommunal conflict. This essay looks to the understudied topic of post-World War II and late Soviet nationalities policies to explain Kabardino-Balkaria’s divergent historical trajectory.

Reference: Lanzillotti, Ian (2018) ‘Towards an Explanation of Intercommunal Peace in Kabardino-Balkaria: Post-War Nationalities Policy and Late Soviet Society in the North Caucasus,’ Europe-Asia Studies, 70:6, pp. 942-965, DOI: 10.1080/09668136.2018.1487680

Shnirelman (2018) ‘The Politics of the Past in Dagestan’

Abstract: Dagestan is inhabited by numerous ethnic communities with their own languages, cultures and histories. However, despite its ethnic and cultural diversity, the republic’s authorities have consistently sought to promote a unified concept of Dagestani identity. This policy has been challenged by local ethnic nationalists concerned about the future of their ethnic communities, which they saw as being endangered by assimilation and marginalisation. This struggle to secure political and social benefits began in the Soviet period and reached its height in the early 1990s. Resentment was particularly widespread among the Kumyks and Lezgins. Their dissatisfaction with the status quoresulted in a competition between inclusive (national) and exclusive (ethnic) approaches, which in turn manifested themselves in debates over historiography. This essay analyses the development and outcomes of this struggle from the 1950s through to the early 2000s, with an emphasis on the early 1990s.

Reference: Shnirelman, Victor (2018) ‘The Politics of the Past in Dagestan: National Unity and Symbolic Revolt,’ Europe-Asia Studies, 70:6, pp. 966-990, DOI: 10.1080/09668136.2018.1487681

Maslovskiy, Maiboroda and Garifzianova (2018) ‘Multiple Cultural Encounters of Urban Youth in Russia’s Muslim Regions’

Abstract: The article presents the results of studies of urban youth culture in two Russia’s predominantly Muslim regions. Gerard Delanty’s theory of cultural encounters and the cultural scene approach form the theoretical base of the work. Its empirical base is the research project entitled ‘Fields of positive interethnic interactions and youth cultural scenes in the Russian cities’. Fields of interactions are regarded as contact zones where some combination of practices and agents produces a potential for bridging ethnic divides. The results of two case studies conducted within the project are discussed in the article. First, a case study of a Tatar post-folk metal group demonstrates that elements of ethnic culture can be used as a resource for creating communicative ties among young people. Second, a study of animé fans describes the formation of a new youth cultural style in Makhachkala and the difficulties in interaction of its carriers with a mostly conservative environment.

Reference: Maslovskiy, Mikhail, Maiboroda, Alina and Garifzianova. Albina (2018) ‘Multiple Cultural Encounters of Urban Youth in Russia’s Muslim Regions,’ Journal of Intercultural Studies, 39:5, pp. 557-569, DOI: 10.1080/07256868.2018.1508005

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