Socio-Political Mechanisms of Constructing Contemporary Regional Myth: The New Past for the Republic of Tatarstan
The article analyzes socio-political conditions in which contemporary myths about the regional past are constructed. It focuses on ethno-national histories, which are integral to the current ideologies of ‘national republics’ in the Russian Federation. In the 1990s, the Republic of Tatarstan, situated in the middle Volga region, epitomized the ‘parade of sovereignties’ of ethnic regions of Russia. The political drift towards sovereignty was reproduced in regional history writing. Since the early 2000s, however, as the ‘vertical of power’ has been strengthened, attempts were made to develop a unified historical canon for the whole of Russia. At present Tatarstan’s historical narrative follows the preferences of the regional political elite, which aims at creating a separate segment in the puzzle of Russia’s ‘new past’ while mitigating conflictual entanglements of common history. Nevertheless, the History of Tatarstan was not subsumed by the History of Russia, and this disciplinary independence – inherited from the History of Tatar Soviet Socialist Republic – facilitated the fast ‘sovereignization’ of regional history. The separate historical narrative of Tatarstan persistently brings up the concept of ‘Tatar world, which competes in a way with its Russian counterpart – ‘Russian world’. The competition between the federal and regional levels of history writing is caused by the administrative and territorial division of Russia rather than by the genuine ‘struggle of ideas’ and it reflects the complexity of imperial legacy rather than confirms the emergence of a civic nation.
Keywords: myth, ethno-national history, Tatarstan, Bolğar, ‘Tatar world’
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