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Title: Elites, language and education in the Komi ethnic revival
Author: Fryer, Paul Jay William
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1999
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Within the context of the general ethnic and cultural 'revival' of post-Soviet society, this thesis is an examination of the Komi ethnic movement that is developing in the autonomous Komi Republic of northwest Russia, and specifically of the attempt to build an indigenous bilingual Komi elite. While the Soviet ethno-federal hierarchy did provide for some development of non-Russian elites, differences between the status of union and autonomous republics in this hierarchy were duplicated in policy on ethnic elite formation. As a people accorded only autonomous republic status, Komi were marginalised within the Soviet system of elite training. Komi did, however, develop cultural elites while the political apparatus remained controlled by non-Komi or at best, by those assimilated Komi fundamentally without a knowledge of the language. Consequently, the Komi movement was very much unprepared to grasp the new political opportunities offered by perestroika and the collapse of the Soviet state and since 1991, several issues have been of increasing significance to Komi: language revival, educational reform, and most importantly rural renewal, as it is in the villages that the majority of the ethnic Komi/Komi speaking population lives. The lack of an experienced political leadership, however, has been a fundamental weakness in the current programme of 'revival'. Recognised early on by the ethnic movement, this problem was addressed in 1994 through the creation of the Finno-Ugrian Faculty (FUF) in the local university (Syktyvkar State University), which I identify as the intended institutional structure for the development of Komi elites. This research explores the strategic and practical debates amongst the emerging post-perestroika Komi leadership, and involves sociological discussion of the issues of rural exclusion, elite recruitment, and perceptions of ethnicity, all taking into consideration the actual and perceived role of the Komi language in society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral