Representing identities in Tatarstan : a cartography of post-Soviet discourses, schooling and everyday life
The aim of this thesis is to demonstrate the value of an approach to the study of identities as a socially embedded multidimensional process that is affected by political, economic and social conditions, institutional discourses, enunciative strategies, popular (re)presentations, specific policies and mechanisms of marking difference and exclusion, as well as dynamics of acceptance and rejection. `Identisation' is presented as an amalgamation of factors, forces and interests that should not be analysed in isolation or reduced to a mono-causal approach. These theoretical claims are based on an in-depth and long term empirical exploration of the processes of identisation in the specific institutional context of Tatar and non-Tatar gymnäsias (secondary schools) in the Republic of Tatarstan, part of the Russian Federation. Data generation consisted of semi-structured and unstructured interviewing and long- term participant observation in Kazan (the capital of Tatarstan) during a period of seven months (between 1999 and 2000) with the support of a pilot study conducted over six months during the winter of 1997-98. Analysis of the data shows that a complex dialectic emerges between political discourse, institutional praxis and quotidian representations, a dialectic and interrelation that often has been ignored in the study of identities. In Tatarstan it is a dialectic between processes of Russification, Sovietisation and Tatarisation which show the need to devote special attention to the historical background in order to be able to analyse the current dynamics and representations. This work aims to stimulate and open up further research and studies in the field of identities and the regions and contexts that were part of the former Soviet Union.