Vitality rediscovered: Theorizing post-soviet ethnicity in Russian social sciences

Based on materials collected during a fieldwork in Barnaul (Siberia, Russia) in 2001–2004, the article explores two provincial academic discourses that are focused on issues of Russian national identity. Ethnohistories of trauma address Russia’s current problems through the constant re-writing of the country’s past in order to demonstrate the non-Russian character of its national and state institutions. In the second discourse, ethno-vitalism, the struggle over constructing and interpreting the nation’s memory of the past is replaced with a similar struggle over constructing and interpreting perceptions of the nation’s current experience. Produced by professional intelligentsia, these frameworks and discourses provide a useful link to understanding imaginary constructions of the national belonging in a situation where more positive ways of inventing traditions and imagining communities are unavailable or discredited.
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