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Nation, Language, Islam

Tatarstan's Sovereignty Movement

By Helen Faller

Publication Year: 2011

A detailed academic treatise of the history of nationality in Tatarstan. The book demonstrates how state collapse and national revival influenced the divergence of worldviews among ex-Soviet people in Tatarstan, where a political movement for sovereignty (1986-2000) had significant social effects, most saliently, by increasing the domains where people speak the Tatar language and circulating ideas associated with Tatar culture. Also addresses the question of how Russian Muslims experience quotidian life in the post-Soviet period.

Published by: Central European University Press


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Title page

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pp. iii-iii

Copyright page

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pp. iv-iv

Table of Contents

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pp. v-v

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pp. ix-xi

I am deeply grateful to everyone who helped me to realize the goals of this project. My most sincere thanks to all the Tatars, Russians, and other ex-Soviet citizens who generously shared their worldviews with me. Almost without exception, everyone I encountered gave freely of their time, intellectual energy, and social contacts. In ...

List of Maps and Figures

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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. 1-28

This exchange demonstrates one of the central paradoxes of living in post- Soviet Russia, which is that while Soviet bureaucratic institutions are still in place, Soviet ideology has lost its persuasive appeal. The highly regulated bureaucracies the Soviet government created—the postal system, ...

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CHAPTER 1. How Tatar Nation-builders Came to Be

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pp. 29-74

In 1930 at the Sixteenth Congress of the Communist Party of the USSR, General Secretary Joseph Stalin pronounced into existence the policy of sliyanie—which he called a necessary and natural coalescence of the people of the Soviet Union into a single culture. Sliyanie gave the authorities ...

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CHAPTER 2. What Tatarstan Letters to the Editor (1990–1993) Reveal about the Unmaking of Soviet People

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pp. 75-108

These lines, from a letter to the editor written by a Tatar living in Moscow and published in Tatarstan’s Tatar-language former Communist Party newspaper, reveal a passion for Tatarstan sovereignty during its heyday in the early 1990s that the newspapers’ editors and Tatarstan government ...

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CHAPTER 3. Creating Soviet People: The Meanings of Alphabets

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pp. 109-142

Neither of the participants in this exchange spoke Russian as a native language. Yet, they both took for granted that formally introducing the band’s leader required following the Russian convention of addressing a person by first name and a patronymic constructed according to Russian ...

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CHAPTER 4. Cultural Difference and Political Ideologies

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pp. 143-176

Äminä xanym is a working-class käräshen (Christian) Tatar pensioner married to a Muslim. She gave up speaking Tatar in early adulthood in part because her son used to chide her for “saying curse words”—a Russian speech genre taboo for women. Her statement above reflects attitudes ...

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CHAPTER 5. Repossessing Kazan

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pp. 177-216

Recalling Yakovlev’s proposal in 1928 to allocate greater administrative resources to economically and culturally dominant Soviet nationalities, it is understandable how controlling a city provides a nationality symbolic dominance over a broader territory. Not by accident then, beginning ...

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CHAPTER 6. Kazan in Black and White

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pp. 217-256

Älfiye is tall, gentle, classically beautiful, and gracefully slim—a university administrator in her forties with olive skin, black hair, and brown eyes that betray a profound weariness. She spoke here in response to a question I asked about whether an awareness of swarthiness [smuglost’] exists in ...

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CHAPTER 7. Mong and the National Reproduction of Collective Sorrow

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pp. 257-282

The myth about the duck pulling the earth out of the sea may be understood as a metaphor for how a significant number of Tatar-speakers see their position as inhabitants of the Russian Federation. Many Tatars say they feel surrounded by an undifferentiated sea of Russians—who speak a ...

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CHAPTER 8. Words Apart

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pp. 283-307

Listed in the Tatar Islamic calendar under October 15, Xäter köne or Memory Day is an annual event that began in 1989.1 Each year, people commemorating Memory Day, who range in number from several hundred to several thousand, gather at Freedom Square at around 10 in the ...


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pp. 309-328


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pp. 329-333

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9789639776906
Print-ISBN-13: 9789639776845

Page Count: 348
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 727737503
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Nation, Language, Islam

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Tatarstan (Russia) -- History -- Autonomy and independence movements -- 20th century.
  • Tatarstan (Russia) -- Politics and government -- 20th century.
  • Nationalism -- Russia (Federation) -- Tatarstan.
  • Tatars -- Russia (Federation) -- Tatarstan -- Ethnic identity.
  • Islam and state -- Russia (Federation) -- Tatarstan.
  • Islam and politics -- Russia (Federation) -- Tatarstan.
  • Tatar language -- Political aspects.
  • Tatar language -- Social aspects.
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