Ethnic Conflict in the Post-Soviet World: Case Studies and Analysis

By Leokadia Drobizheva; Rose Gottemoeller et al. | Go to book overview

THE VOLGA REGION

11.

Contemporary Ethnosocial and
Ethnopolitical Processes in Tatarstan

ROZA N. MUSINA

The Tatars, like many other peoples, are currently experiencing what ethnographers refer to as "the ethnic paradox of modem times." The crux of this paradox is the simultaneous appearance of trends toward increasing interethnic interaction and integration with increased expressions of ethnic assertiveness and exclusivity. In this chapter I explore the contradictory tendencies toward ethnic integration and exclusivity in Tatarstan, as well as issues pertaining to the larger issues of Tatar nationalism and the Tatar independence movement.

Soviet totalitarian ideology postulated the uniform development of all ethnic groups, irrespective of cultural differences or specific national needs and interests. The prolonged domination of that ideology and the totalitarian, command‐ administrative system of which it was an integral part produced a multitude of problems that still permeate the spheres of politics, economics, ethnic cultures, and public morality throughout the former Soviet Union. Neither the Tatars nor the various peoples inhabiting Tatarstan were exempt from these processes or their consequences.

The ethnogenesis of the Tatars is complex, but one element in their lineage can be traced to the Mongol-Tatar hordes who arrived on the banks of the Volga in the early thirteenth century. After sweeping as far west as the Carpathian Mountains, the Golden Horde turned to the consolidation of its empire, establishing a khanate in the Volga region. 1 While the more distant Russian princely domains were subjected to the "Tatar yoke" and compelled to provide tribute in goods and military recruits to their overlords, the indigenous Kipchak and Bulgar peoples of the Middle Volga region were subjected to the more far-reaching processes of Tatar assimilation and Islamization. 2

Tsar Ivan IV defeated the Khazan Khanate in 1552 and incorporated the ethnically diverse Middle Volga region into what had been the almost entirely ethnically Russian state of Muscovy. 3 In order to supplant the influence of their Tatar rivals, and perhaps with the larger goal of inhibiting the coordination of anti-imperial activities, the Russians developed new and distinct liturgical lan

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