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Nation, Language, Islam

Helen M. Faller

Chapter 1. How Tatar Nation-Builders Came to Be

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“We had internal censorship. We spoke like communists, but we thought otherwise.”
Tatar nation-builder, 21 October 1999

  • 1 Zakiev (1991); Kreindler (1989); Martin (2001); Slezkine (1994b).

1In 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 license to exert growing, often covert, pressures towards the linguistic and ethnic russification of non-Russians, which only subsided somewhat after Gorbachev implemented his failed policy of perestroika in 1986.1

  • 2 Dowler (2001).

2In 1938—the year of the Great Purge—russification pressures increased. The Soviet government declared Russian the language for use in communications between the USSR’s various nationalities. Simultaneously Russian was introduced as an obligatory subject in all Soviet schools.2 From that point on, Russian officially became the Soviet Union’s dominant language, the language to be used in all public interactions. These interactions could be of a largely voluntary nature: checking a book out of the library; mailing a letter; sending a telegram—first translated into Russian—to relatives living in another part of the country; or subscribing to a newspaper published in any Soviet language. Or they could be more obligatory encounters: taking oral exams in order to enter university; buying a train ticket to travel on state-sponsored business; or performing the military service required of all able-bodied young men. In other words, despite the state’s concerted development of national cultures, full participation in Soviet society required fluency in Russian language. Hence, in most spheres of Soviet social activity and cultural exploration, participating minorities had to speak Russian and abide by the Russian cultural values of the people who definitively controlled those spheres. Soviet activities thus often slipped normatively into a cultural world defined by Russian values and Soviet people frequently equated “Soviet” with “Russian.”

3This chapter describes Soviet language planning and national education with a focus on effects on Tatar language. Learning about Soviet language planning is the first step in comprehending why Tatar-speakers would want to engage in mass protest and in understanding how Tatar-stan’s discursive worlds diverged and multiplied with such radical speed towards the end of the 20th century.

4The need to learn Russian in order to become fully integrated into Soviet society suggests that individual speakers of minority languages had to decide at some point in their lives whether to embrace Russian dominance or not. Certainly, the decision would not have been absolute, since anyone who participates in a social order accepts certain aspects of it while rejecting others. Nonetheless, some non-Russians embraced Russian language more than others, as in the case of village-born Tatars who “forgot” how to speak Tatar once they moved to Kazan to begin their adult lives. Other migrants insisted on speaking Tatar in public, sometimes as loudly as they could, even when that meant enduring harassment from offended Russians.

5Members of national minorities who spoke a language other than Russian publicly or otherwise adhered to non-hegemonic cultural norms during the Soviet period suffered for it, punished for stretching the boundaries of national behavior beyond what the authorities deemed politically appropriate. They endured marginalization from mainstream Soviet society and provincialization with respect to it. Even Tatar-speakers who appeared to be fully integrated into Soviet society were nonetheless differently positioned from monolingual Russian-speakers. Thus, while the discursive worlds of Tatarstan people have been diverging at a precipitous rate since the mid-1980s, the existence of these discursive worlds as distinctly different entities is not novel. Moreover, while Tatar nation-builders occupied discursive worlds dissimilar to those occupied by Russian-speakers, they nevertheless do not represent a resistant subaltern, but rather participated as fully in building socialist society as their Russian compatriots.

Kazan’s Ethnic History

  • 3 Sultanov (2004: 198).

6At the time of its conquest in 1552, Kazan became by definition a Russian-speaking city. From the Middle Ages until the 1917 October Revolution, Tatar-speakers were largely confined to the Old and New Tatar Quarters, peripheral, swampy, low-lying districts beyond the city’s original boundary on the other side of Lake Bulak where the city’s markets bustled, while Kazan’s government buildings, university, museums, synagogues and churches—Orthodox, Catholic, and Lutheran—were erected uphill out of range of the Volga River’s annual flooding. Tatars established their own cemetery deep in the New Tatar Quarter—now literally on the other side of the railroad tracks—but they couldn’t keep Russians from desecrating their ancestors’ graves.3

  • 4 Amirxanov (2005).
  • 5 See Hughes (2006[1934]) for a striking comparison of the lives of Central Asian Turks with America (...)

7Although the Tatar Quarter’s first inhabitants seem all to have been christened at Ivan the Terrible’s command, their neighborhood was dotted with mosques, which supported confessional schools—mäkteb and mädräse. These schools were closely monitored by Russian inspectors, who required the mullahs teaching in them to speak Russian for the purpose of facilitating interrogations, but tried to keep students from acquiring other skills useful in the world that lay beyond the Tatar Quarter.4 Russian government administrators wanted Tatars to stay ignorant for much the same reasons that American slaves were forbidden from learning to read.5 They were afraid that knowledge could lead to rebellion.

Medieval Kazan—An Ethnographic Snapshot

  • 6 For more on the conquest of Kazan, see Halperin (1985) and especially Pelenski (1974).
  • 7 Ruzel Yusupov, who at the time was the Rector of Kazan’s Pedagogical University, asserted in a lec (...)
  • 8 Khujin and Sitdikov (2005: 108); Ramusio (1583), v. ii. f. 117.
  • 9 Khujin and Sitdikov (2005: 108–109).

8Before Ivan the Terrible’s conquest in 1552, Kazan was the capital of a daughter state of the Golden Horde twice the size of present-day Tatarstan.6 The Kazan Khanate’s rulers were settled Turkic-speaking Muslims, who governed an important international trading center and sporadically received tribute from the Principality of Muscovy.7 The diplomatic language was a predecessor of modern Tatar and the dominant religion Islam. Kazan developed dynamically under Golden Horde rule, and by the mid-15th century, according to a pair of Venetian travelers to the region, had become “a trade city from which an enormous amount of furs are transported to Moscow, Poland, Persia, and Finland,” “walled like Como, and with bazaars.”8 Coins discovered there in recent excavations originate variously in Western Europe, China, and Central Asia. Newly unearthed camel bones suggest that merchant caravans, like those that made their way along the famous Silk Road, traveled through the city.9

  • 10 Khujin and Sitdikov (1996); Pelenski (1974).
  • 11 Khujin and Sitdikov (2005).

9From the time of the collapse of the Golden Horde state until conquest, approximately 1438–1552, Russian merchants sailing on the Volga River paid Kazan for the privilege, and Moscow alternately paid tribute to Kazan and neighboring city-state Astrakhan.10 Kazan’s architecture in this period was a combination of native traditions from the earlier Bolgar period and adaptations from Turkish11 and Italian masters. The archaeological evidence indicates diversity in the people living there—in addition to artifacts belonging to Kazan’s Muslims, Russian crosses and pottery shards typical of 14th-15th century Russian and Finnic manufacture have been unearthed in Kazan’s Kremlin.11

  • 12 Sultanov (2004: 137).
  • 13 Khujin and Sitdikov (1996).
  • 14 Sultanov (2004).

10A 41-day blood bath, Kazan’s conquest was the most decisive in a string of ongoing wars between the Principality of Muscovy and the Kazan Khanate. Once Ivan’s troops—said to be 150,000 strong— overwhelmed the religious leader Sayid Kol Shärif with his battalion of mullahs and penetrated the citadel, where 30,000 soldiers had barricaded themselves, the latter tried to flee by scaling the Kremlin’s walls. According to a Russian eyewitness, at the end of the fighting so many corpses covered the ground that it was hard to take a step without tripping over one. The “pagan dead” were piled as high as the top of the Kremlin and their bodies lay strewn outside the citadel down the hill it sits upon all the way to the River Kazanka, across the wide river—which ran red with blood—and on its opposite shore.12 The surrounding forest, where many had sought refuge, was teeming with injured and dead Kazanians.13 The city was burnt to a crisp. Kazan’s entire male population was destroyed and women and children were killed as well. At the end of the day on October 4, 1552, the stench from the corpses was apparently so overpowering, despite the nippy autumn air, that, after inspecting the khan’s palace for half an hour, Ivan IV hurried away to his camp outside the city.14 To this day, a charred layer containing the unconsecrated bones of Kazanians who sought shelter from the Russian onslaught is said to exist deep in the soil of the Kazan Kremlin. While Kazan’s conquest marks Russia’s beginning as an imperial power, for many Tatars, it designates the beginning of colonial rule.

  • 15 Khudiakov (1991: 168–171).

11In commemoration of his victory Ivan the Terrible erected the Annunciation Cathedral in Kazan and St. Basil’s Cathedral on Moscow’s Red Square. After having them christened, he incorporated the three dynasties of Kazan’s rulers into his service. Söyembike, Kazan’s last Muslim ruler—the widow of Khan Safa Girei—was forcibly married off to a prince in Ivan’s service, Shah-Ali, who reportedly beat her and cut off her nose and perhaps even killed her. Ivan was troubled by these rumors, as they spoiled his diplomatic relations with Soyembike’s relatives.15

  • 16 Sultanov (2004: 190).

12Ivan declared that Kazan’s Kremlin be rebuilt in stone to prevent other attackers from using Chinese dynamite to destroy it, as he had done. Indeed, Russia invested so heavily in rebuilding Kazan that within 15 years of its absolute destruction, the city had already surpassed its previous size, though its composition was completely different. Only ethnic Russians—government administrators, nobility, artisans, and soldiers—lived within the city limits. About 5,000 Tatars lived beyond the city walls in the Tatar Quarter, a swampy lowland full of “marshy gases and unnavigable filth,” flooded by the Volga each spring.16 The area, which still bears that name and still contains a majority Tatar population, is prone to flooding to this day.

  • 17 Sultanov (2004).
  • 18 Geraci (2001). See also Endnote 35 in Chapter 2.

13Russian officials, who forbade Tatars from entering Kazan upon pain of death, directly administered the Tatar Quarter.17 These Tatars, however, were the privileged few, either members of the tsar’s service class or their servants. The majority of Tatars were exiled 20–25 miles from Kazan and at least 10 miles away from major waterways. Since Kazan was an important merchant town, depriving Muslims of access to the rivers and ports dispossessed them of their primary means of earning a living. Once Russian peasants began to move into the region, Muslims were forced off their rural lands into locations without water.18

  • 19 Sultanov (2004: 194–5).
  • 20 Sultanov (2004).

14Although the Tatar Quarter’s inhabitants lived on the edge of the city, they mostly engaged in non-urban occupations. As Sultanov, a contemporary Tatar geographer, writes, “From the appearance of the first grasses in the spring to the first snow in the fall, a large portion left to graze and work the land in the villages.”19 A century after conquest, some Tatars managed to resume the occupation that had previously brought them great wealth. In the first half of the 17th century, Christened Tatars who had entered into the tsar’s service were given permission to begin trading again.20

  • 21 See Brower and Lazzerini (1997); Geraci (2001); Geraci and Khodarkovsky (2001); Kefeli (1997); and (...)
  • 22 Sultanov (2004: 197).

15Russia’s conquest didn’t mark the end of adversarial relations between Russians and Tatars, the primary source of which were Russia’s ongoing efforts to convert Tatars from Islam to Orthodox Christianity.21 In the 1590s, four mosques with tall minarets mysteriously appeared in the Tatar Quarter. Kazan’s religious authorities wrote to Tsar Fyodor Ivanovich to complain of this and lament that the new Christians weren’t going to church, wearing crosses, or keeping icons in their homes. The tsar ordered the mosques destroyed and an intensification in missionary activity. He recommended punishing Muslims by putting them in chains, beating them, and locking them up in jail. Despite the tsar’s orders, Tatars continued to build mosques, either illegally or with the tacit agreement of the local government.22

16An account by Oruj Bek, a Persian who later converted to Christianity, from 1599 provides further illustration of discord in the region. He states that the people of Kazan—by whom he meant the Christian population— are often drunk. For this reason, there was an ordinance forbidding Russian officers from carrying weapons—“otherwise they would be killing each other every other moment.” Moreover, he explains, each house is a dog, as big as a lion, for they fear robbery by night from him who might be an enemy. In the daytime the dogs are chained up, but at the first hour of the evening the bells ring to warn people that the dogs are about to be let loose in the streets, and thus the passengers abroad must take care. For they set their dogs free, and no one then dare go out of his house, lest he should be torn to pieces by them.

  • 23 Le Strange (2003: 244).

17Not only did dogs roam the streets, but at night the Kazan Kremlin was garrisoned by soldiers “because it was the custom formerly of the Turks and Tartars to come in by night and, having set fire to the houses, plunder the people.”23

18A century later, Kazan’s Tatar population received acknowledgement of its religious rights for the first time when, in 1694, Peter the Great decided in favor of a group of Tatars who complained to him that Russians had begun erecting houses in their cemetery. The houses went up despite the tsar’s decision, and the climate of tolerance quickly dissipated. In the mid-18th century Peter’s daughter, Tsarina Elizabeth, issued an edict ordering all mosques destroyed—400 of them were razed to the ground.

  • 24 Roshwald (2001).
  • 25 Iskhakov (2005). Geraci (2001).

19Some Tatars today consider Catherine the Great’s decree in mid-18th century permitting Muslims to erect stone mosques the first sign of respect accorded Tatars by a Russian ruler. Catherine likewise reversed the earlier policy promoting religious conversion in an effort to prevent alienating Tatar nobles from Russian society.24 Notwithstanding Catherine’s Enlightenment-inspired approach, while she was in power Tatars actively participated in two violent uprisings—the Revolt of 1755 and Pugachev’s rebellion in 1774.25

The Emergence of a Modern Tatar Nation

  • 26 Similar reforms took place in Japan as well. In the Ottoman Empire, the reform movement was called (...)
  • 27 For more on jadidism see Khalid (1998) or any of Lazzerini’s (1973, 1975, 1988, 1992, 1995, 1997) (...)

20Beginning in the mid-19th century, as part of a wave of reform movements sweeping the Muslim world, some Kazan Tatars—most notably, Shibhaddin Marjani (1818–1889) and Kayum Nasyiri (1825–1902)— began to advocate for modernization among Eurasian Muslims.26 This modernization movement, called jadidism after the Arabic word for “new” [jadid], lasted through the 1920s. At its core was a concern still central for Tatars today—education. Jadidism’s most famous advocate was the Crimean Tatar Ismail Bey Gasprinskii (1854–1914), best known for beginning publication of a pan-Turkic newspaper called Terjuman (1883), which helped to create connections between Turkic-speakers in various parts of the Russian Empire, and for creating a phonetic method for teaching the arabic alphabet which he used in Russia’s first New Method school (1884). Although jadidism had become a radicalized political movement by the time of the 1917 revolution, its original thrust was to incorporate knowledge of secular subjects—math, science, foreign languages—and other knowledge from the west into Muslim society with the goal of improving education for men and women.27 While the Muslim clergy were largely opposed to jadidism, its adherents did not reject Islam, but rather saw reform as a vehicle for religious renewal.

  • 28 Geraci (2001).
  • 29 Amirxanov (2005); Iskhakov (2005).
  • 30 Amirxanov (2005: 51).
  • 31 Amirxanov (2005: 48).
  • 32 Gasprinskii (1985[1881]). Russifying ethnic and religious minorities was not necessarily a goal of (...)
  • 33 Amirxanov (2005: 48–49).

21In 1854 Kazan’s city administration was unified and Tatars legally had the right to live anywhere in the city. Shortly thereafter, non-Christians earned the right to become members of the city parliament.28 Tatars had resumed mercantile activity in the 17th century and had become involved in industry and banking by the early 1900s. Even so, jadidism arose out of a context of institutionalized discrimination. Russia’s 14 million Tatars were barred from holding government office—including positions in the post office and telegraph—and thus couldn’t advocate for administrative changes to improve their standing within the areas of business to which they were limited.29 Tatar capital was banned from enterprises involving the production of metal—including gold—oil, coal, sugar, and wine. Also forbidden were construction, shipping, railroads, and any other industries that received priority from the government.30 Moreover, Tatar peasants paid higher taxes than non-Muslims, although, in the early 1900s, on average they held 30 % less land than Russian peasants.31 While all Russia’s workers lived in abominable conditions and suffered cruel exploitation in the early 20th century, Tatar workers are said to have been even worse off than others. Poor knowledge of Russian—in 1881, only one in a thousand Tatars is reported to have known the language—contributed to their inability to receive technical education.32 As a result, Tatar workers earned less than Russian workers. And, according to newspaper articles from the period, their bosses frequently beat them.33

22Before the 1917 revolution, Äminä Apakaeva—the granddaughter of a mullah—explained to me that Tatar society was organized around mosques, each with its own mullah, who acted as the spiritual leader of his mäxällä—the Muslim equivalent of a parish. The mullah would teach the male children living in the mäxällä how to read the Quran and his wife would run a school for the mäxällä’s girls. According to Muslim tradition, children studied the Quran written in the original Arabic, and, as a consequence, they became literate in the written versions of their vernaculars.

23The schools were private, but the sums of money required to attend were modest.

  • 34 Amirxanov (2005); Gasprinskii (1985[1881]).
  • 35 Geraci (2001).
  • 36 Gasprinskii (1985[1881); Amirxanov (2005: 49).

24Although Tatar educators repeatedly requested financial support for Muslim schools from the Russian government, they never received any.34 The only non-Russian schools to receive funding were missionary schools for Christened ex-Muslims, the primary purpose of which was to teach them how to gain more converts.35 The government refused to recognize certification of graduation from a mädräse—Muslim secondary school— as a valid diploma. Without this recognition and lacking knowledge of Russian language, young Tatars were effectively barred from receiving higher education at Russian institutions.36

  • 37 Gasprinskii (1985[1881]: 71) on literacy among Muslims. Heller and Nekrich (1986: 174) state that (...)
  • 38 Amirxanov (2005: 140, 51).
  • 39 Amirxanov (2005: 140).

25It is unclear how well Muslim confessional schools taught reading. For example, in a 1901 edition of Terjuman, Gasprinskii describes the pathetic illiteracy he observed among mäkteb students in the 1860s-1870s. However, in an 1881 plea to the Russian government for financial support of Russian Muslims’ education, he implies that literacy among Muslims was at 50–60 %, which would have been significantly higher than the rate among Russians—7 % in 1855 and 21 %-23 % in 18 97.37 In 1905 Russian government officials in Kazan stated that around 80 % of Tatars were literate, while in 1915 Kazan’s governor wrote that almost all Tatars were literate in their own language.38 However, a 1905 survey reported that the literacy rate among Tatar men was only 21.67 %, and among women— 17.73 %. Contemporary Tatar historian Ravil Amirxanov attributes this discrepancy to inaccurate self-reporting among Tatars who were afraid that the Russian government would further interfere in their lives should it discover they could read and write.39

  • 40 Amirxanov (2005: 120).

26It is clear, however, that the Russian government sought to keep Muslims uneducated. For example, in 1901 Russia’s Director of the Ministry of Public Enlightenment stated that he had “no desire to reform Muslim schools in any way that might improve these learning institutes” and he considered it a blessing that “the Muslim schools conceived by Muslims themselves will as previously employ routine memorization, which has condemned Muslim scholarship to stagnation and which prevents true believers from acquiring knowledge.” Moreover, the government considered a “dangerous influence” schools that might arouse in their students a feeling of national self-worth and self-knowledge, awaken interest in practical knowledge, or their own language and culture. These latter were jadid schools.40

  • 41 Amirxanov (2005: 135–136); Iskhakov (2005: 88).

27The greatest supporters of secular education were entrepreneurs, industrialists, and merchants. As part of their Muslim obligation to give alms, Tatar businessmen and an occasional businesswoman contributed hundreds of thousands of rubles to various projects, which included building mosques, opening mäktebs and mädräses, subsidizing educational institutions, and sending gifted students abroad to study. While the need to educate Muslims who could compete on the Russian and foreign markets was great, in 1908 it was still illegal to open jadid schools. So, jadidism was incorporated into confessional schools, which often had dual programs—one for the Russian inspectors and another for the Muslim faithful.41

  • 42 Amirxanov (2005).

28Up until the 1905 revolution, Tatars’ freedom of assembly was severely restricted. Secular cultural events were forbidden, and the secret police spied on funerals and weddings, which they considered political gatherings.42 Because non-religious gatherings were banned, they were conducted underground and consequently became politicized. This was particularly true of publishing and theatre performances, although other activities—such as presenting music concerts and running a public library—were also prohibited.

  • 43 Iskhakov (2005). As a result, Tatars lacked knowledge of what was occurring in the 1905 Russo-Japa (...)
  • 44 Iskhakov (2005: 99).
  • 45 Amirxanov (2005: 52).

29Although Kazan Tatars appealed over and over again to the authorities for permission to start periodical presses, their requests were denied until after the 1905 revolution.43 In the early 1900s, Russian censors noted that publication of a newspaper in the Tatar language would aid “the unification of Tatars scattered around various parts of Russia” and asserted that “the weaker the connections between Tatars...the better.”44 Tatars responded by beginning to publish clandestinely. In 1901 the first nationalist organization, Sherkertlek, which was illegal, began publication of an underground newspaper.45 Others soon followed suite.

  • 46 Iskhakov (2005: 95).
  • 47 Amirxanov (2005: 114).

30The Russian authorities also restricted publication of books. By a decree issued in 1800, only the Quran, prayer books, and other religious texts could be printed.46 Despite this, in January 1900, a secret police circular documented the appearance of “dangerous” “completely new tendencies” in Tatar literature, with the potential for “giving rise to a serious fracture in the life” of Russia’s entire Muslim population. Censorship increased. Publication in translation of a collection of Russian newspaper articles and a Russian encyclopedic History of Asia were prohibited, along with several Russian classics. In particular, satirical works by Gogol, Tolstoy, and Pushkin were banned, as government bureaucrats considered Tatars’ interest in circulating them a “wily” pretext for mocking Russians.47

  • 48 Amirxanov (2005: 139; 141–142).
  • 49 Amirxanov (2005: 128).
  • 50 Iskhakov (2005: 97).

31Russia’s devastating losses in the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 brought on a revolution, which gave rise to nationalist movements in several regions across the Russian Empire and more tolerance on the part of the government towards minority languages. These general developments opened Tatar society up to revolutionary changes. New Method jadid schools were started for women and Russian educational institutions in Kazan and elsewhere became more accessible to Tatar boys and girls.48 Tatars quickly took advantage of the government’s newly bestowed permission to publish newspapers in their own language. In 1905–1906, 20 Tatar papers began publication. Though the first Tatar publishing house was shut down in 1908 for printing a Kazakh book considered insulting to the tsar, a second Tatar press, opened by two brothers named Karimov— whose third brother was a wealthy merchant—was extremely successful. By 1910 the Karimovs had their own building and a store on Haymarket Square, now the site of Kazan’s Kamal Theater. From 1905–1917 they put out 1,294 books and a total of 14 million volumes of literature.49 By the beginning of the 20th century, both printing and selling Tatar books— once under the control of Russian tradesmen—were increasingly in the hands of Tatars themselves.50

  • 51 The most notable of the jadid dramatists, Gayaz Isxaki (1878–1954), may rank among the best playwr (...)
  • 52 Amirxanov (2005: 117).
  • 53 Amirxanov (2005: 132–133).

32As with the publication of secular books, the establishment of a vibrant theatrical tradition was central to jadidist activity.51 According to fundamentalist interpretations of the Quran, Muslims are not allowed to participate in theatre performances. However, the forward-looking, tight-knit jadid group that created Tatar theater at the turn of the 20th century rejected such interpretations. They learned about theater from attending Russian productions and then writing plays and staging illegal performances in private.52 Kazan’s first public performance, in 1906, followed one in Ufa (now capital of neighboring Bashkortostan) the same year and drew an audience of 600 spectators. The next year, the first Tatar theater troupe Sayar was established by the jadidist Shariq kluby, which likewise officially came into existence in 1907. In addition to performing Tatar plays, Sayar presented Russian, German, and French works—at the time unknown to Tatar audiences. When World War I began, Shariq kluby was shut down when some of its members left for the front, though those who stayed behind in Kazan continued to produce plays.53

  • 54 Amirxanov (2005: 135).

33In 1911 a Tatar journalist named Soloviev opened a movie theater, Cinema Bouffe, which primarily played reels about Muslims in other parts of the world, including films about political events in Eastern states, tragedies, comedies, dramas, as well as sentimental love scenes from the lives of European people. Cinema Bouffe was heavily advertised in the local press and became extremely popular among Kazan’s Tatar population, by whose request Bouffe screened some films several times. It tried to attract Tatar women to its “temple of spiritual delight” by dividing its auditorium into separate sections for men and women. Its great popularity is attributed to the fact that during intermissions a Tatar orchestra played in the auditorium. Although Cinema Bouffe’s existence was short-lived, it had a marked effect on the collective aesthetics of Kazan’s Tatars.54

  • 55 Valeev et al. (1981).
  • 56 Geraci (2001); Khasanov (1977: 219–220).
  • 57 Istoriia roda Apanaevykh; Fuks (1991[1844]).

34On the eve of the 1917 October Revolution, Tatars made up 22 % of Kazan’s population.55 By 1914, there were 154 Tatar merchant houses in Kazan, which, in addition to trade, included factories for leather production, soap making, and wool cleaning, and steam mills.56 Russians—along with other Christians and some Jews—occupied the most prestigious sections of the city, while Muslims continued to live clustered around the Tatar Quarter’s noisy, dirty markets. Even successful merchants and wealthy industrialists, who maintained elegant houses and kept servants, lived there.57

35Continuing a trend that began in the 16th century, if not earlier, urban Tatars didn’t live year round at their city residences. Some traveled to Siberia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and America, and elsewhere to trade in furs and leather, while others migrated back and forth between their native villages. For example, a genealogy of the Apakaev family, whose members currently live in Tatarstan, Finland, and California, reveals that in the early 1900s half of them spent at least some portion of their lives in Harbin, China—on fur-purchasing trips—and others transported agricultural products locally from the nearby countryside to city bazaars.

Tatar Historiography

  • 58 The relative level of emancipation of a “nationality’s women” is supposed to indicate its level of (...)

36It is only a slight exaggeration to claim that, until the celebration of Kazan’s Millennium in August 2005, official sources on Tatar history were nearly as impoverished as the Tatar Quarter became under Soviet rule. Take, for example, a 1981 book called Stranitsy iz istorii goroda Kazani [Pages from the history of the city of Kazan], which presents urban Tatar society formulaically, its sole topics of inquiry the working class’s revolutionary struggle and women’s emancipation.58 Although the authors who contributed to the collection provide some relevant data about pre-revolutionary Kazan, the requirements for writing history during Brezhnev’s rule obliged scholars to depict early 20th century Kazan teleologically, as a place where the next, inevitable historical event was the 1917 revolution.

37Even in 1999, the history of Kazan transmitted in Russian language hardly acknowledged the presence of Tatars in the city. In that year, a Kazanian of Polish descent whom I met while visiting the city’s German Karl Fuchs Society in their renovated Lutheran church, invited me on a special tour of a museum exhibition about Russian poet Alexander Pushkin’s visit to Kazan in 1833. Pushkin was fascinated by Russian peasant rebel Yemelyan Pugachev and decided to follow the trail he had blazed across Russia (1773–1775). As part of this journey, Pushkin visited Kazan, where Pugachev’s ragtag army had terrorized the Russian authorities for two days in 1774. During our tour, the guide called attention to the Quran owned by Pushkin on display as evidence of his respect for Islam, but neglected to say whether he had met with any local Muslims. Nor did she mention that Pugachev had received hearty support from both Tatars and Bashkirs (a neighboring Muslim, Turkic-speaking people). She did, however, describe in detail the time Pushkin spent with local Russians and the German ethnographer and medical doctor Karl Fuchs (1776–1846) and his wife, whose house still stands, if barely, in the Old Tatar Quarter. In addition to my Polish acquaintance, the people who accompanied me on the tour included several Russians and Tatars. None of them expressed any curiosity regarding Pushkin’s apparent lack of interest in Russia’s own Muslim population.

  • 59 Institut slavianovedeniia (1960); Sharadzenidze (1980).

38Written accounts of nineteenth-century Kazan generally afford greater significance to the actions of Germans, like Karl Fuchs, or Poles— Kazan’s third largest ethnic group before the 1917 revolution—such as the influential linguist Baudouin de Courtenay, who taught at Kazan University for several years, than to the lives of Tatars.59 Only through oral accounts from Tatar-speakers did I learn that Karl Fuchs was great friends with Tatar ethnographer Kayum Nasyiri and that Nasyiri provided Fuchs with entrée into Tatar homes and taught him about Tatar culture and language, which resulted in Fuchs’ insightful monograph on Tatars. In return, I learned, Nasyiri earned the right to attend Kazan University under Professor Fuchs’ auspices.

Twentieth-Century Social Integration

“Until World War II, signs hung outside business establishments that read ‘Tatars and Dogs Prohibited.’”
Reixana xanym, November 1999

  • 60 Iskhakov (2005: 101).
  • 61 Slezkine (1994b: 134n, 284) and Zakiev (1991), respectively.
  • 62 Ginzburg (1967).

39Though Tatar gained official status as a government language in 1921, scant archival evidence about the practical status of Tatar or other minority Soviet languages during the early twentieth century exists.60 Historian Yuri Slezkine writes that Soviet administrators working in Siberia were expected to learn local languages, but didn’t, while Tatar linguist Mirfatyh Zakiev claims that Russians who needed knowledge of local languages for administering non-Russians in the 1920s acquired those languages.61 Renowned Soviet dissident Yevgeniia Ginzburg, who taught at Kazan University until her arrest in 1938, writes in her first volume of memoirs about the Soviet prison camp system that her interrogators chastised her for having learned how to speak Tatar, calling her a traitor.62 Ginzburg also notes that she used Tatar to communicate with the distraught wife of an arrested Tatar Bolshevik, who was unable to converse with the other occupants of their prison cell. Since the majority of those arrested at that time would have been zealous communists and consequently more likely to study local languages, Ginzburg’s observation suggests that Russian-speakers rarely learned them.

  • 63 Keller (2001), inter alii.

40Despite the introduction of sliyanie in 1930 and the 1938 decision to make Russian the language of inter-national communication, it was the tragic experiences of World War II that transformed the USSR into a union, albeit fractured, of Soviet citizens. Until that time, evidence suggests, most minority people living outside the major cities in the Soviet periphery navigated the revolutionary changes to which they were subject much as they had endured Russia’s various imperial policies.63 While in the 1920s there had been progressive revolutionaries who supported the Bolshevik government among the members of every Soviet nation, in the 1930s the Bolsheviks eradicated most of them as part of a brutal antinationalist campaign. At the beginning of the Second World War, however, Stalin eased his repression of non-Russian minorities in an effort to bolster their patriotism and willingness to fight Germany.

  • 64 See inter alia Fitzpatrick (1994, 1999, 2003, 2006), Heller and Nekrich (1986), and Medvedev (1989 (...)

41World War II changed life in the USSR in two very significant ways. First, it gave Soviets a tangible, invading common enemy against which to unite. Until then, as histories of the Great Terror demonstrate, the enemy was ephemeral, internal, ubiquitous and almost completely fabricated.64

42And, second, it caused Soviet men to be drafted into the army en masse, which effected their massive integration into Russian-speaking society.

  • 65 Khujin and Sitdikov (1996, 2005) indicate that while some Tatars consumed wine, they weren’t known (...)

43At least, this is the story middle-aged Tatar women told after the Soviet Union no longer existed. Time and again, they would complain to me that Tatar men returned from World War II with a newly acquired taste for drink. Soviet soldiers rations include vodka, which Tatars claim, and which claim archival evidence seems to support, Tatars did not consume prior to World War II.65 As anyone familiar with Russian culture will know, not drinking vodka when vodka is present is not a choice a man can make. Likewise, drinking vodka entails drinking until all the vodka is drunk. Thus, the complaints made by Tatar women imply, soldiers who returned from the front with a taste for vodka were pressured into drinking as part of their soldierly duty.

  • 66 There is also the example of a video kiosk window display I saw on Kazan’s Tatarstan Street in 200 (...)
  • 67 For more on Russian drinking practices, see Christian (1990), Erofeev (1977), Pesmen (2000a), Paxs (...)

44The culture of Russian drinking requires lots of talking. When Russians drink, they take turns pronouncing long, elaborate, sentimental toasts, and then everyone empties their glass altogether in a single gulp—a sign of machismo. In Russia drinking is obligatorily a group practice, strongly associated with male bonding. It is synonymous with friendship. An episode of the subtly brilliant detective series Ulitsa razbitikh fonarei [The street of smashed/jaded streetlamps] aired on NTV— the Independent Television Station—in 1999–2000, illustrates this succinctly. In one scene two police officers ask the colleague of a murder suspect whether the suspect had any friends at work. The colleague shakes his head in response and clarifies by saying, “He didn’t drink at all,” which simultaneously communicates that the suspect is worthy of suspicion.66 During a drinking session, as the wave of collective inebriation swells, toasts become increasingly concerned with chest-baring, soulful communion. Once the stiffness of everyday formality has been spirited away, Russians joke, a drunken man will throw his arm over the shoulders of his neighbor and lisp inquisitively, “Do you respect me? Do you love me?”67 Thus, while serving in the Soviet military, Tatar men must have learned not only how to consume vodka, but also, it seems, how to communicate in rudimentary Russian and perhaps about Russian ideas of friendship.

45My suggestion that drinking served as a means of integrating Tatar men and other non-Russians into Russian-speaking Soviet society isn’t based solely upon speculation. In 1999, I was at a dinner party where one of the guests—an old Russian man—learning of my interest in Turkic culture started counting from one to ten in the Chuvash language. He told me that he learned to count in Chuvash during the war from a Chuvash drinking buddy, who didn’t know any Russian when they met, but presumably learned some during the course of their drinking sessions.

46On every occasion when I drank alcohol with Tatar-speakers, I observed that they adhere to the Russian tradition of placing empty bottles on the floor and, like Russians, did not have an explanation as to why. Also similar to Russians, Georgians, and others—and different from the drinking habits among, say, Turkish Turks—Tatar-speakers pronounce toasts before each drink. Dissimilar from Russian habits, though, the Tatar-speakers I drank with didn’t require everyone to empty his or her glass each time a toast was made. And, when Ramadan overlapped with the most important Soviet holiday, New Year’s Eve, in 2000, a number of middle-aged Tatar-speakers I knew chose not to drink alcohol at their celebrations even though they were not observing the fast called uraza. Though during the Soviet period Tatars accepted Russian drinking customs, including the requisite pronouncement of toasts, in the post-Soviet period they are adapting those customs to fit their new worldviews.

47Even during the Soviet period, however, Tatars maintained their own cultural modes in other spheres of activity. For example, it is a Russian custom before embarking on a journey for the people who are about to part ways to sit in silence on the traveler’s suitcases for a moment. In all my partings from Tatars over the course of eight visits to Kazan no one observed this custom. And, unlike Russians, Tatar-speakers never said that sitting at the corner of a table endangers a person’s chances of getting married. Rather, sitting so closely around a table that some people end up wrapped around its corners signifies strong affectionate bonds among a group of people, as I observed in the joy-filled smiles on the faces of unmarried Tatar teenagers who willingly took their places at table corners when we would sit down together to drink tea.

48Indeed, Tatar-speakers dictate their own very strict rules for appropriate sitting. Adults frequently instruct children to sit beautifully [matur utyr], which means that they should sit up straight without fidgeting, their knees together and feet planted squarely on the floor. In particular, girls are supposed to sit beautifully. This is part of tärbiia, or upbringing. Lexical equivalents to tärbiia exist in languages other than English: in Russian, vospitanie, in Turkish terbiye, and in French being bien elevé, Tärbiia is the body of knowledge—or embodied knowledge—a person needs to have acquired in order to comport him- or herself in a socially appropriate fashion. What that comportment consists in varies as widely from one society to another as any other cultural value. Many of my adult Tatar-speaking acquaintances told me that tärbiia possesses especial importance because conduct that is considered tärbiiale—“with tärbiia”—is often at odds with the practices, though not necessarily the ideals, Soviet upbringing produced. Moreover, one of the chronic sources of tension between Kazan’s bilingual Tatars and monolingual Russian-speakers, chronically unapparent to the latter group, is Russians’ lack of tärbiia. An essential element of Tatar tärbiia is respect for others—this includes the courtesy men extend to women and the consideration with which women aim to treat men. However, perhaps the most important aspect of Tatar respect pertains to how younger people are expected to behave towards their elders. A difference in age of even a year can cause a younger person to defer to an elder and his or her perceived wisdom. The younger person will signal this by using abiy—elder brother—or apa—elder sister, as forms of address.

  • 68 A hadji is a Muslim who has fulfilled the fifth pillar of Islam by making the annual pilgrimage to (...)
  • 69 Her exact words were, “Tatar kyzy pärtärdä utyrmi.

49A skit some Tatar teenagers at the Lab School performed for their teachers during an assembly for Teachers’ Day portrayed how this norm is instilled. One teenager played the part of their strictest, dearly loved teacher who taught Arabic and was a hadj.68 In the skit, a student playing the part of the teacher entered the room and said to a girl sitting slouched on the edge of a table, “A Tatar girl does not sit on desks.”69 In response, the girl slid off the desk and sat down in a chair, beautifully. The gathered teachers were visibly moved by the fact that the urban-born students had called special attention to a moment of Tatar cultural instruction that was almost instinctual for people of village origin. Several teachers laughed so hard that they had to wipe the tears from the corners of their eyes.

National Schools

  • 70 Slezkine (1994a: 443).
  • 71 By 1958–1959, in the Russian Republic, full 10-year schooling in the native language was offered i (...)
  • 72 Kreindler (1989: 49). Statistics regarding what percentage of children studied in national schools (...)

50In the late 1920s, schools in the Russian Republic offered classroom instruction in more than 100 languages. Promoting education in local languages was a means to educate people without knowledge of Russian in how to become socialist citizens. In 1938, Russian became the obligatory second language in all non-Russian schools.70 From the mid-1930s on, dozens of “small peoples,” including Siberian natives and Roma, were denied native language education. However, officially, all Soviet children received education in their “mother tongue” until Khrushchev decreed otherwise in 1958.71 Afterwards, “the use of the mother tongue was actively discouraged in the classroom” and some languages were classified as non-viable. Educational resources were redistributed so that 14–17 % of classroom time was spent on teaching Russian language.72 After non-Russians helped to defend the Soviet Union during World War II, Russian became more widely known among national minorities and the Soviet authorities came to view local languages as an impediment to socialist upbringing. Although Stalinist glorification of Russian ceased, in practice mastery of Russian had become essential to full participation in Soviet society.

  • 73 Kreindler (1989: 51; 54).
  • 74 Interview at the offices of the Permanent Representative of Tatarstan to St. Petersburg, St. Peter (...)
  • 75 Silver (1974c). Staklis (2006) explains that the language of instruction was another significant s (...)
  • 76 Valeev et al. (1981: 68).

51By the early 1960s, the number of languages used in schools had diminished to 47 and by 1982 to 16.73 However, these figures do not account for regional variation. For example, while Tatar schools continued to operate in Tatar villages and in some Tatarstan cities throughout the Soviet period, St. Petersburg’s three Tatar-language schools had already been closed by 1936.74 In 1961, only 6 % of Tatar pupils in the urban areas of the Tatar ASSR studied in Tatar-language schools.75 Nationalities the central government had accorded a titular polity below the union-republic level, such as Tatars or Jews, suffered more from these cuts than those nationalities, like Georgians, whose titular polity was a union republic. During the Soviet period, Tatar-language schools in Kazan almost completely disappeared. Depending upon the source, by the mid-1980s either one or two schools in Kazan used Tatar as the language of instruction and neither of them provided an avenue to higher education. In 1917, the year of the Bolshevik Revolution, by contrast, 31 out of 182 schools in Kazan were Tatar.76

  • 77 Children also study at least one foreign language, most popularly English.

52In 1994, Tatarstan instituted a bilingual education system requiring all children to study Tatar, along with Russian, through high school and into college.77 This entailed the development of new types of schools, including Russian-Tatar, Russian and Tatar gymnasia, Turkish gymnasia and Islamic schools. Children became divided into two class types— Tatar and Russian. Tatar classes receive all their instruction in Tatar and study Russian language as a subject, while Russian classes receive all their instruction in Russian and study Tatar as a subject. The Tatar classes contain only Tatar children, while the children in the Russian classes are of different nationalities. For example, at the Lab School, the students in the Tatar classes—called the “Language Class” because Tatar, Russian, English, Arabic, and Turkish were taught—were all Tatar, while the students in the Russian “Humanities Classes” were of mixed descent—Russian, Tatar, Ukrainian, Bashkir, and so on. Tatar classes’ curriculum were more focused on Tatar language, literature, history, and culture than Russian classes, where the pupils learn only rudimentary Tatar language and Tatarstan history. The result is that students in Tatar classes are more likely to become identified with things

53Tatar, even if they speak Russian in everyday life, while the Russian classes strongly identify with the Russian-speaking world.

54In the mid-1990s many parents of russophone Tatar children or children of mixed parentage chose Tatar classes for their children. However, when they realized their children could not function in all-Tatar environments, they moved them to Russian classes. Decisions regarding which classes children should study in are not without political implications. Enrolling one’s child in a Tatar class shows support for Tatarstan sovereignty, while withdrawing children from Tatar classes implies retraction of that support.

  • 78 Dolgov (2009).
  • 79 When I asked government officials at the Tatarstan Ministry of Education about the school closings (...)
  • 80 Devlet (2009).

55After 1990, 20 Tatar schools opened in Tatarstan’s capital. In 1998, the Kazan school system still suffered from a shortage of 1,300 Tatar teachers, which gap took several years to close. As elsewhere in the former USSR, schools suffer from textbook shortages and purchasing private copies for pupils strains family budgets. After Putin cracked down on sovereignty in 2000, the Tatarstan government started closing Tatar schools. From 2007 to 2009, 111 Tatar schools were shut down.78 However, as with statistics regarding the number of Soviet children studying in national schools, no comprehensive figures as to how many schools have been closed are publicly available.79 Moreover, since the Russian government decreed in 2009 that Tatar students must take their university entrance exams in Russian, their parents have a strong disincentive to send them to national schools, just as they did under Khrushchev’s rule.80

  • 81 When I was doing research in Kazan in the late 1990s, as soon as people found out I was studying T (...)

56During the Soviet period, schools offering instruction in Tatar were primarily located in villages. Consequently, villages came to be considered the locus of authentic Tatar language and cultural practices.81 The continued strength of Tatar schools in Tatarstan villages, their relative weakness in Tatarstan cities, and their complete absence from Russian cities reflects a three-tiered cultural evolutionary hierarchy with respect to place of habitation. Soviet nationalities policies propelled this hierarchical differentiation by concentrating greater resources in larger settlements and making investments in Russian-language institutions. Thus, the greater the investment in a locale, the more likely it was to be Russian-dominant and a city.

The Limits of National Culture

57The very process of developing national cultures in the mid-1920s served to promote russification. In addition to fostering the creation of codified literary languages and national language schooling, the Soviet authorities controlled the publications, theatrical performances, and other cultural products created for consumption by the USSR’s non-Russian nations. Codifying languages restricts their growth because it devalues the imaginative and spontaneous creation of new verbal forms. Likewise, dictating what makes for authentic national culture limits the forms culture can take and eventually marginalizes it from mainstream society. Limiting national cultures created a situation in which people desiring safe access to experiences outside their own official national boundaries were required to do so in Russian language and usually according to Russian cultural norms for social interaction. Exceeding the limits the state established was dangerous to life and liberty.

  • 82 “Particular” with regards to Slezkine’s (1994a) formulation.

58The Soviet state marginalized Tatar culture in at least three different ways. First, cultural leaders—both political figures and intelligentsia— lost their lives, freedom, and political positions for exceeding the officially accepted boundaries of their national culture. Second, representations of non-Russian Soviet national cultures became marked as particular, in contradistinction to unmarked, universalized cultural forms in the Russian language.82 Third, even Tatar-speakers who were fully engaged participants in Soviet institutions occupied social positions profoundly different from those of ethnic Russians.

  • 83 See Carrère-d’Encausse (1989) on the Bolsheviks’invitation to Tatar jadids to join the Party. See (...)
  • 84 Ginzburg (1967).
  • 85 Akchurin et al. (2006).

59From the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 through the end of the 1930s, the Soviet secret police arrested and shot leading Tatar cultural figures, turning to Tatar Bolsheviks—the majority of whom were former jadids invited to join the Party—after they had purged the non-Communists.83 Ginzburg’s memoir suggests that Kazan’s entire Tatar intelligentsia had been arrested by the late 1930s, primarily on charges of bourgeois nationalism.84 Other sources indicate that some intellectuals, unreservedly supportive of all Soviet policies, remained free long enough to serve in the Soviet army during World War II, where the majority of them died.85 In either case, by the 1930s the bourgeoning politically active intelligentsia, supported by the merchant class and financially independent from the government which had emerged in the late 19th century, no longer existed. Its members had all been imprisoned, shot, or forced to leave the country to avoid arrest. One result of these losses was that Tatar culture’s urban roots were eradicated from Kazan’s historical landscape. The story of Mir Said Sultan-Galiev is a publicized account of what befell Tatars whose aspirations surpassed what Soviet power would tolerate.

Lost Lives

  • 86 Martin (2001).
  • 87 See Sultan-Galiev (1984)[1921], “Metody antireligioznoj propagandy sredi musul’man.
  • 88 Turan is one of two ideological divisions of Eurasian peoples found in Pan-Turkism, the other bein (...)

60Mir Said Sultan-Galiev, a former jadid Tatar ideologue who joined the Communist Party in 1917 and became Stalin’s Minister of Nationality Affairs, was first arrested in 1923 for pan-Turkist activities, the year after he proposed that Tatarstan should have union republic administrative status.86 He was arrested a second time in 1929 and executed sometime thereafter. Sultan-Galiev was a singular thinker—a communist who sought to apply Leninist ideas to the Soviet Union’s eastern peoples, particularly with regards to devising methods for conducting anti-religious propaganda among Muslims.87 His political program included measures to establish an autonomous Muslim Communist Party, a Muslim Red Army separate from the Soviet Red Army, a Turan Republic reaching from Kazan to the Pamir Mountains (now in Tajikistan), and a Colonial International, completely independent of the Communist International.88

  • 89 Like the Krondstadt sailors Trotsky had massacred in 1921, Sultan-Galiev was more revolutionary th (...)
  • 90 Sultan-Galiev (1984[1919]: 17–18).
  • 91 Sultan-Galiev (1984[1919]: 19, 22).
  • 92 Sultan-Galiev (1984[1921]: 40).
  • 93 Yakupova (2000: 175).

61Although Sultan-Galiev’s program appears to be based on a kind of Muslim nationalism, the foundation of his thinking was socialist.89 He conceived of the relations between East and West as a class struggle, in which the East felt an undying hatred towards the West.90 He considered the East, “almost all of which is the object of exploitation by Western European capital,” “very rich material for us as revolutionary fuel” and was certain that without the East’s material resources, Western Europe’s imperialism would crumble.91 Like contemporary Tatar nation-builders, who see themselves as leaders in developing Russian Federalism, Sultan-Galiev proposed that Tatarstan should be the center for spreading revolution to the East. He considered Tatars “the future pioneers of cultural development for the Soviet Union’s Eastern remote regions”—which included the Urals, Siberia, Central Asia, Turkestan, Khiva, Bukhara, and Afghanistan.92 After his second arrest, Sultan-Galiev’s name was struck from Soviet history until 1990, when he was rehabilitated.93 Sultan-Galiev was too much of a revolutionary to be reined in by the authorities in Moscow. However, many Tatars, much less of a threat to the hegemony of Soviet power, were severely penalized for stretching the boundaries the government put on national culture.

  • 94 Nadezhda Mandelstam writes about this in her riveting memoir, Hope Against Hope (1970).

62The purges served to dismantle Soviet citizens’ pre-revolutionary social networks. People who were afraid of incrimination by association— and often that was the only accusation needed to find a person guilty of treason—distanced themselves from friends and family members whom they considered in danger of being arrested.94 Soviet people as a whole experienced the pain of sudden and traumatic loss and resulting isolation, suffering from collective paranoia that people they had once trusted were not what they seemed. For non-Russian minorities, however, the purges had an even more devastating effect. In what some Tatars refer to as “cultural genocide,” unknown quantities of religious, historical, and sometimes linguistic knowledge were lost as family members disappeared or voluntarily disassociated themselves from each other.

  • 95 Rorlich (1986). Socialist Revolutionaries were purged for having opposed some early Bolshevik poli (...)
  • 96 Unfortunately, I couldn’t find Iliuziia xanym’s relatives said to be living in the US.

63The fate of a well established Kazan Tatar family suggests what must have happened to others about whom less is known. The Apanaevs rose to prominence during the 19th century. They were religious leaders and successful merchants. They used their wealth to build and maintain mosques, open a mädräse, publish a newspaper, and support other philanthropic cultural and political undertakings. At least six of them were active members in Shariq kluby. After the Bolshevik Revolution, all the family’s adult male members, and some females, were arrested and shot or sent to the Gulag. The most senior male at the time, A. Apanaev, was purged due to his activity as a Socialist Revolutionary, while other family members suffered persecution by association and for continuing to practice Islam.95 In 2001, the last Apanaev, Iliuziia, who worked for Tatarstan’s government-run television station, gave me a copy of a documentary she had made about her family and asked me to help her seek out long lost relatives thought to be living in the US.96 A friend of the family I spoke to while looking for Iliuziia Apanaeva’s American relatives told me that finding them was difficult, in part because female Apanaevs who survived the purges took their husbands’ last names. Indeed, in her documentary, Apanaeva explains that members of her extended family with other surnames broke their ties with her family in an effort to avoid persecution.

  • 97 That is, the father probably denounced other people to save his own skin. See Conquest (1990) for (...)

64A Russian-speaking Tatar old-age pensioner I know—a schoolteacher who rents out the spare bedroom in her apartment to foreign students— told me her own story. Her father was a Bolshevik arrested in the Great Purge of 1938. She was three years old at the time. She, her brother, and her pregnant mother—all categorized as “enemies of the people”—were evicted from their apartment and lived on the streets of Kazan for six months without help from anyone. Since Kazan’s weather is temperate only three months out of the year and the winter is bitterly cold, at least half that period must have been gruelingly difficult to live through. By some miracle, probably an ugly one, the father was freed.97 The friends and relatives who severed their ties when the family became homeless never spoke to them again.

65However, “cultural genocide” was not a phenomenon unique to Tatars. All non-Russians were subject to it to one degree or another. For example, during my visits to Kazan’s Karl Fuchs Society I met a broken old man named Brenner, prominent in the German community. Brenner told me he survived the purges, even though his father—a pharmacist—was arrested and shot because his mother was Russian. He didn’t explicitly state that he lived because he passed as Russian and wouldn’t say much about what he and other Germans suffered under Stalin’s rule—only that it was terrible enough to cause him to forget the German he spoke fluently until he was ten years old.

  • 98 Yakupova (2000: 14–15).

66Speaking out against Russian chauvinism, as Tatar intellectuals frequently put it, remained perilous throughout the late Soviet period, even if the punishment wasn’t arrest or death. Tatar journalist Venera Yakupova’s Russian-language collection of historical anecdotes by Tatar nation-builders called 100 stories about sovereignty contains several descriptions of such incidents. For example, at the Seventh TASSR Writers Congress in 1968, the Chairman of the Writers Union opened the proceedings with a speech lauding the successes achieved in Tatar publishing and the consequent blossoming of Tatar literature under socialism. When the time came for Rafael Mustafin, Editor of Kazan Utlary literary journal, to speak, without other commentary, he stood at the podium and read out statistics on the numbers of pre-revolutionary Tatar-language publications compared with those numbers for 1968. They had dropped by more than 250 %. As soon as the Congress concluded, Mustafin was relieved of all his political posts. For several years afterwards, no one would employ him or publish his work and the KGB kept him under active surveillance.98

Lost Knowledge

  • 99 Poliakov (1992).

67During the Soviet period, most religious ceremonies were outlawed. Some Jews I met at Purim celebrations in the synagogue adjacent to Kazan University told me that previously, they had performed all their essential life-cycle rituals—including bris or circumcisions—in secret in their apartments. And while practicing Islam was not explicitly outlawed, it was strongly discouraged. One could not be both a member of the Communist Party, which was necessary for career advancement, and openly religious. Despite this, there is evidence to suggest that many Soviet Turks considered Muslim practices—most importantly among them observing uraza during Ramadan—significant identity markers during the latter years of Soviet rule.99 Presumably, most Muslims who fasted did so secretly, since the Soviet authorities sought to stamp out uraza because they thought it had a deleterious effect on production output. The Muslim rituals of singing the azan (call to prayer), circumcising boys, and inviting a mullah to preside over the name-giving ceremony for two-month-old babies were illegal. Since perestroika, some Tatars have not only readopted these Muslim rituals, but, in true Tatar style, they have also been reading avidly about and publishing copiously on Islam.

68Since the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, some broken social networks have been re-knit with the result that some lost knowledge has been recovered. During a 2000 visit I made to Tatarstan, I received several invitations to attend avyz achuy or “throat opening” ceremonies—the Tatar name for the fast-breaking feast that occurs after sundown every day during the holy month of Ramadan. Among Tatars, the avyz achuy is traditionally a female-only ritual activity. Men may enter the space in which it has taken place only after the religious portion of the gathering is over. During one avyz achuy I attended in a one-room village house, the men hid behind a curtain until the women finished their ritual duties. At another a participant joked that, by rights, the tomcat should have been put out of the apartment, but wasn’t because he’d track dirt from the staircase landing onto their beds. Once the space in which the avyz achuy occurs is no longer sacred, the men of the household return to eat the copious amounts of food left over after the women have had their fill.

69Each of the three avyz achuy ceremonies I attended was loosely scripted in the same way. After the sun had set, we first “opened our throats” by placing a pinch of salt or a few raisins in our mouths with our right hands. Then, the woman presiding over the avyz achuy read a passage from the Quran. After reading in Arabic from the Quran, she said a prayer in Tatar, which could include pleas for “the Tatar people” as the “people who suffered at the hands of Yavuz Ivan” (Ivan the Terrible) and a prayer for each person sitting around the table, moving clockwise from her left hand. The other participants held our hands in the air, palms up, the whole time and responded to her call by pronouncing amin. The prayer said, we tucked into an enormous feast of Tatar food, the most lavish of which included an abundance of baked chicken, boiled beef, various savory and sweet pies, dried and fresh fruit, fruit juice and tea. As we ate dessert and drank bottomless cups of tea, all the women present engaged in a ritual conversation about Tatar society and how to improve it.

70The first avyz achuy I attended was organized by a group of urban middle-aged women. All university educated, they hold prestigious, if not well paid, jobs in cultural, educational, and government institutions. Since we came together in 2001, their collective religiosity has increased. When

71I saw them again in 2006, many had begun to attend Friday prayer services at the newly constructed Kol Shärif Mosque in the Kazan Kremlin and some wore modest dress daily. One of the women present at the avyz achuy was 90 years old, still upright, but very slight and frail looking. Sufia apa was so ancient that her wrinkled, translucent skin was without features, as if she had transcended the cares of the everyday. To describe the wisdom of old people, Tatars say köp körgän, köp belgän, which means, “She has seen a lot and therefore come to know a lot.” Knowing a lot, Sufia apa had taught the other women how to conduct the ceremony properly, and not long afterwards passed away. She had been a great-granddaughter of the 19th-century jadid Shibhaddin Märjani and was related by marriage to Iliuziia Apanaeva, whose acquaintance I made at the avyz achuy. As long as the Russian and Tatarstan governments continue to allow open observance of Muslim practices according to passed down traditions, some of the social networks through which Tatars have kept alive the memories of how to do things will be reestablished.

The Universality of Russianness

  • 100 Woolard (1989) describes a similar kind of conservatism among Castilian-speakers in Catalonia who (...)
  • 101 See Brubaker (1996).

72While destroying pre-revolutionary social networks atomized the worlds of Soviet individuals and families, at the level of Soviet nationalities, atomiza-tion particularized minority cultures in ways that made them subordinate to Russian culture’s seeming universality. When a central authority fixes the boundaries of ethnic national cultures—even in the pursuit of promoting the survival and development of those cultures—it narrows the range of possible ways in which individual representatives of those national cultures can participate in society. In the Soviet Union, nationalities policies permanently provincialized people who chose to remain national, that is, maintain their language, social contacts, and separate, non-Russian cultural traditions. As a group minority language speakers were necessarily conservative, since people wishing to enter untried spheres of activity had to break into new cultural zones with unfamiliar rules of engagement.100 Moreover, people who chose to speak Russian exclusively didn’t lose their nationality brand. Even if minority people spoke unmarked, unaccented Russian, their national status was still officially inscribed in the internal passports they had to produce in every bureaucratic encounter.101

73The following story is iconic. While Tatars living in Kazan may only tell the story in full to outsiders like me, they often obliquely refer to it by ironically mentioning “russkie beriozy,” that is, “Russian birch trees,” with a rueful grin. The story concerns the fate of an unnamed, perhaps mythical, Tatar man who objected to the russification of nature. This man is said to have written a letter to the Central Committee of the Communist Party, sometime after World War II, criticizing the widespread practice of describing birch trees as “Russian birch trees” [russkie beriozy], the Volga River as the “Russian River Volga” [russkaia reka Volga], and the severe Eurasian winter as Russian [russkaia zima]. According to the nation-builder who told me the story, the man asserted that his Tatar nation also lives in Russia and that Tatars also possess these things. Therefore birch trees, the Volga, and winter could not lie exclusively in the domain of ethnic Russians. The man was reportedly arrested as a nationalist.

74Indeed, during the postwar period, there was no room for sharing nature with other nationalities. After World War II, Slezkine informs us, Russians came to be treated as the “chosen” people in all official Soviet discourse:

  • 102 Slezkine (1994b: 309).

Every day and every hour, in the classroom and at every meeting, the Soviet people... were told that the war had been won by the Russians and their friends; that the Russians had won the war because they were a great nation; that they had been a great nation for as long as Russian had been spoken...102

75It was the Russian version of manifest destiny.

  • 103 The Karelo-Finnish Republic, later downgraded to the status of an autonomous republic, was number (...)

76In the period after World War II, the universality of Russianness, in contrast to the particularity of national cultures, was conveyed not only at meetings and in classrooms, but also via printed media. Books created for Young Pioneers—the Soviet equivalent of Girl and Boy Scouts— demonstrate how Russians are represented as the emblem of progressive Sovietness through being freed from their obligation to work the land. The books depict children from the Soviet Union’s 16 union republics.103 The faces of 15 children possess the phenotypical features considered stereotypical of the indigenous populations living in the union republics they are supposed to represent. They are clad in national dress—stylized peasant or nomadic dress—from each of those republics. The one exception is the boy from the Russian Republic, who, unlike his peers, is ethnically unmarked—no slanted eyes or high cheekbones or Asian pigtails—wearing a Young Pioneer uniform. That is, although Young Pioneers of all nationalities are supposed to wear the uniform, here the child from Russia, apparently an ethnic Russian, emblemizes the normative Young Pioneer, freed from the historical baggage of national culture. Just as whites in the US may see themselves as without ethnicity, Soviet Russians could escape national marking.

77However, Soviet Young Pioneer books do more than just represent “Russian” as “Soviet.” Indeed, any children whose nationality wasn’t accorded a union republic during the 1920s state-building period, for example Jews or Siberian natives, are rendered invisible. Additionally, any children living outside their titular union republic, for example, Georgian Armenians, have no place. Meanwhile, the visibility of minority nationalities tidily ensconced within their own union republics was contingent on being represented as peasant, exotic, backwards, cheerful, or some combination thereof.

Marriage and Movies

78Prior to the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution the Russian Empire was a feudal society in which the overwhelming majority of the population was illiterate peasants. Bolshevik revolutionaries thus saw promoting literacy, industrialization, and urbaneness as central to their modernizing mission and means for ridding Soviet society of its past ills. It took time for this mission to gain credence among non-Bolsheviks living outside of major cities, but eventually sometime after World War II, for both non-Russians and rural Russians, the ideal of Soviet modernity became urban, industrialized, and Russian speaking.

79After an experiment with “free marriage” aimed at promoting women’s emancipation that lasted until the mid-1930s, domestic partnerships ceased to be recognized as marriages, divorce became difficult, and abortions were made illegal. In 1955 the law was changed to permit abortions for medical reasons, and again in 1968 to allow them without restrictions. At present, in Russia more pregnancies end in abortion than live birth. One consequence of Russia’s high abortion rate—in conjunction with a loss of about 30,000 inhabitants annually to emigration and a high death rate—is that Russia’s population is decreasing by 700,000 people each year. In May 2006 President Vladimir Putin took steps to counteract this demographic crisis. He decreed that the child support payments women receive from the government will double to $55/month and instituted a one-time payment of $9,200 to mothers who have a second child.104

  • 105 Alexandrova (1984: 50, 39).
  • 106 Faller (1995).

80As soon as they hit their twenties, women in Russia receive chronic browbeatings from their mothers and other older women to hurry up and marry before it’s too late. This is not a new phenomenon. As Russian feminist Ekaterina Alexandrova noted in a 1984 article called “Why Soviet Women Want to Get Married,” marriage has been touted as a civic duty necessary for increasing a population depleted by World War II. The result is that women felt pressured to marry in order to gain social acceptance. Writing about the Soviet period, Alexandrova explained that government propaganda “persistently and relentlessly inculcates in women the idea that only in a family can they find happiness, only by acquiring the stamp of married in their passports will they be complete as human beings.... Many women are keenly sensitive to the fact that writing not married in the appropriate blank is shameful and degrading.”105 Or in the words of a middle-aged Kazakh woman I interviewed in 1995 “The idea is to be married. Only one state is normal for you.”106 Marriage between a national minority and a Russian almost without fail produced Russian-speaking and Russian-identified children. Even the children of two non-Russians would often choose to identify themselves as “Russian” in their passports. Thus, when a non-Russian married outside of her ethnic group, the result more often than not was to increase the country’s Russian population.

  • 107 Attwood (1993) and Faller (n.d.). On January 17, 1922 Lenin signed a decree nationalizing Soviet c (...)
  • 108 Egorov and Naumova (2005).
  • 109 See Attwood (1993) and Mamonova (1989) for more on women in Soviet cinema.

81This idea that women must marry in order to be normal is clearly reflected in Soviet cinema, which the Communist Party actively used to shape society from October 1917 on.107 While films like Devchata (1961), a sweet romantic comedy about a naive young woman helping to build civilization out of the Siberian wilderness, continued an earlier Soviet tradition of painting rural life in the rosiest of strokes, the 1970s ushered in films about modern urban people, particularly women, free from the obligation to work physical labor. The message in movies like Office Romance (1977) and Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (1979)—which won an American Oscar—is that successful career women can avoid loneliness, only if they assume traditionally feminine roles so as to appeal to men without high professional qualifications. These two films in effect blame women without men for their plight, though unmarried women have been a society-wide phenomenon throughout the Soviet period and afterwards as a result of the heavy losses of male life to World War II, the Gulag, the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979–1989), and currently due to alcoholism and alcohol-related deaths.108 For lonely women who are members of national minorities, such films imply that the domain in which romance occurs is Russian-speaking. Tatar women I know—young and old—adore all three of these films and sit glued to the screen in raptures when they are shown on television. Of course the movie scripts are in Russian. The characters all have Russian names. And the themes are Soviet. Just as Soviet films attributed individual blame to the mass of unmarried Soviet women whose professional qualifications and independence (the films imply) emasculate men, they likewise pressure unmarried non-Russian women to reject their national cultures and marry Russian.109

Cultural Products

  • 110 For comparable illustrations with regards to other Soviet nationalities, see Lemon (2002) and Slez (...)

82In a state which guaranteed equal rights to all minorities, Russian nationalism made itself felt in the broad range of things to do in Russian compared to the relatively few activities that could occur within the confines of Russia’s minority languages. For example, there are no Soviet-period dictionaries that provide translations from a minority language into any language other than Russian. Rather, all Soviet-period dictionaries translated between Russian and subordinate languages, while Russian-English, Russian-French, and Russian-Turkish dictionaries were in print. Since 1991, some faltering efforts have been made to create Tatar-Turkish dictionaries, for instance, but they serve little practical purpose, since the focus is on synonyms—a way of pointing to perceived cultural similarities as opposed to facilitating communication. A similar kind of subordination occurs with regards to the representation of artistic genres, reflecting how national arts are inflected as “folk.” In the performing arts, for example, Russian language and culture possess the pervasive power of universality, in contradistinction to the particular, provincialized reach of minority languages and cultures.110

83While censors no longer explicitly control the content of present-day Tatar theater, as they did during the Soviet period, its forms are still quite limited. Kazan’s two Tatar-language theaters stage excellently executed, professional productions. Yet, while the single Russian-language theater presents tragedies, comedies, farces, and musicals, originally written in many different languages and staged on sets approximating the locales where those languages are spoken, the Tatar theaters’ plays are nearly all romantic musical comedies originally written in Tatar and set almost without exception in idealized Tatar villages. Even the few Tatar tragedies, likewise set in idealized villages, are musicals. In addition to romantic musical comedies, several Tatar operas exist, only one of which— Altynchäch—is ever performed. Moreover, Kazan is an exception with regards to minority language theater. The most sophisticated Tatar-language performance one could see in Moscow or St. Petersburg, in each of which cities hundreds of thousands of Tatars live, would be a school play. To see a production of non-Soviet origin—Shakespeare or Molière or the Broadway musical Fiddler on the Roof—people must attend Kazan’s Russian-language theater.

84In 2006, the pre-revolutionary practice of staging translations of Russian classics in Tatar was revived, as a Tatar version of Chekhov’s Three Sisters played at the Kamal Tatar State Academic Theatre. Passing by the theater one day in June 2006 after the season had closed, I pointed to the marquis and asked a Tatar friend why Three Sisters had been introduced to the Tatar repertoire, since all Tatars understand Russian and could see the play in the original. He responded that it wasn’t done for Tatar audiences, but to make Russians feel good.

  • 111 This is similar to how minority performances are perceived in neighboring China. See Gladney (1998 (...)
  • 112 See Lemon (2000) for similar attitudes among Russians towards Roma theater.

85The genre asymmetry of theatrical performances in Kazan has at least one salient social effect. It provides people with fodder for disparaging Tatar theater as primitive and crude, which most critics likewise perceive to indicate the level and breadth of Tatar culture’s development. Russians and some Tatars assume that Tatar theater reflects the essential simplicity and lack of sophistication of Tatar culture, and not the fact that, as a politicized genre, the forms Tatar theater can take have been curtailed.111 One Kazan Russian married to a Tatar explained to me that Tatar theater was thematically superficial due its musical comedy elements—singing, dancing—and displays of national costume. She contrasted this to the ability of the town’s Russian theater to stage tragedies, which she considered “serious productions.”112 During the same conversation, this woman told me her daughter had no interest in Tatar language because the girl was naturally drawn to the superior culture.

86The provincialization of Tatar culture likewise affects the trajectories along which both people and ideas circulate. As in every bilingual situation, the distribution of languages in Kazan is asymmetrical, a fact well illustrated by theatre audience’s spheres of movement. Village-born Tatars, even those who have lived in Kazan for years, often experience a sense of unease venturing out into the Russian-speaking world. Many believe that their national culture is less urbane than Russian culture and they feel uncomfortable entering domains of traditional high culture where only Russian is spoken, such as theaters. Each season thousands of Tatar villagers travel on special excursion buses from their rural homes to see plays in Kazan’s Tatar theaters. Equivalent excursions for villagers who may wish to see performances in Russian don’t exist. Consequently, these audiences never gain exposure to a broader theater-going experience. Thus, even though Tatar-speakers have knowledge of two languages, which creates the potential for a sophisticated and complex interpretative ability, their exposure to certain ideas may be more limited than that of monolingual Russians.

  • 113 During a Turkic theater festival I attended at the Kamal Theater in 1998, translations were made i (...)

87The situation for Russian-speaking audiences is quite different. The Tatar theaters provide simultaneous translation of their performances into Russian.113 Consequently, Russian-speakers who care to do so—and many Russians I spoke to went to see Tatar plays on a regular basis—find the Tatar theaters easily accessible. But the translations, delivered with lackluster intonation, are bereft of the dramatic lyricism and linguistic richness that exist in the original. Consequently, accommodating Russian monolingualism encourages Russian-speakers to add incomplete, superficial versions of the ideas expressed in Tatar plays to their repertoire of experiences. Indeed, the quality of the translations is so poor that Tatar audience members who rent headphones—afraid their knowledge of literary Tatar is inadequate to the task of comprehending theatrical language— frequently discard them as soon as a performance begins. Kazan theater-going practices reflect a larger asymmetrical power relationship according to which Tatars accommodate themselves to Russian linguistic expectations, while Russian-speakers make no corollary accommodations to Tatars.

88Tatar music similarly suffers from limitations that mark it as “national,” in contradistinction to the perceived universality of Russian music. Officially Tatar music only exists in four varieties—rarely played classical music, songs Soviet ethnographers defined as “folk” [xalyk jyrlary], mongly songs—the topic of Chapter 7, and a variety of pop music comparable to contemporary American country music with regards to its down-home feeling, formulaic predictability, the performers’ elaborate costumes, and the low social status of its audience. The lyrics of these songs almost always concern some aspect of idealized village life. In contradistinction to Tatar plays, Russian-speakers never consume Tatar music—it is distinctly uncool.

89By contrast, music sung in Russian can assume any imaginable genre, without provoking eyebrow raising with regards to its potential authenticity. There is Russian classical music, opera, jazz, rock, rap, pop, ska, and so on. Tatars who listen to music outside the officially imagined rural geography of Tatar music once consumed songs exclusively in Russian. Since perestroika, however, they listen not only in Russian, but in other languages, like English and Turkish, as do ethnic Russians. Indeed, Turkish pop star Tarkan is such a hit in Russia that Filip Kirkorov, Russian pop icon Alla Pugacheva’s fourth husband, popularized a song that uses the melody of Tarkan’s song Şikidim.

Figure 1.1. Üzebez’s “I Speak Tatar!” Badge

90In an effort to counteract Tatar culture’s provincialization, a loosely organized Kazan youth movement called Üzebez (, created in 2005, has been promoting music that appeals to youth—singer/song-writer music, rock, and rap. In April 2006, they staged a concert of underground, urban Tatar music on Kazan’s pedestrian Bauman Street, which attracted an audience of 4,000 young people. At the concert they handed out badges with the words “I Speak Tatar” to those who did and dictionaries “My First 150 Tatar Words,” to those who didn’t. Most of the songs played at the concert have been banned from the radio by the Tatarstan government due to their perceived nationalist content. Moreover, because no studios in Kazan will work with them, the musicians have to travel to Moscow, where the local Tatar community supports them, to record their albums. The April event was funded by Open Russia, a foundation established by now-imprisoned Russian businessman and former owner of Yukos Oil, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. The Russian government froze Open Russia’s assets in March 2006 without explanation, which marked an end to their ability to fund Üzebez and other independent democratic organizations.

False Divides

91During the revolutionary period Soviet ethnographers charted the various peoples living on Soviet territory. Part of this charting included ascribing to each new found nationality a level of economic development and corresponding designation as nomadic, rural, or urban. One consequence of their work was that by the 1950s, among the hundred or so nationalities living within the Soviet Union, Soviet media sources only represented one of them—Russians—as both rural and urban dwellers.

  • 114 Gross (1992).

92Designating people either as urban or rural, however, belies the way that Soviet people live their lives. Take bazaars as an example. The stereotype is that the merchants are rural and the buyers urban. Historically, even nomads spent time in cities, where they traded extensively and sometimes intermarried with settled peoples.114 Currently, bazaars—which are considered profoundly filthy, but also backwards and rural necessities of post-Soviet life— exist in all cities. The designation of bazaars as filthy metaphorically alludes to the garbage strewn on their grounds, the negative associations former

93Soviets have with regards to making money through resale (spekulatsiia), and the foul language bazaar workers are said to use. In Kazan, the bazaar is marked as a Tatar-language zone and many people thus perceive Tatar as a kind of trade pidgin. In actuality, Kazan’s bazaars are jam-packed with both rural and urban people. Vendors include “nomadic” Kyrgyz and “settled” Tajiks and Uzbeks from Central Asia, networks of Azeri brothers from the Caucasus who like to set up house with local women, and urban Tatars and Russians hired as day laborers.

94Moreover, the people who go to Kazan’s bazaars as shoppers— sometimes the merchants’ relatives—are not necessarily city folk. I recall sitting down to eat the Tatar meat pies called peremäch and drink vodka with one vendor I knew. A Russian woman married to a Tatar, she had caused a scandal among her in-laws by quitting her well-respected job as a schoolteacher to sell clothing in the bazaar—considered to be a low-grade occupation for the uneducated. But, she argued, the pay was more reliable, and no one could dispute that. On this particular day, Alina had worked all day and just had time to clean up before coming to the evening family party. As usual, she was tired and today she was irritable because some rich Tatar women had come to the bazaar from the village to shop. They clearly had a lot of money, but Alina wasn’t able to convince them to spend any at her stall because she didn’t know enough Tatar to entice them to buy from her. She could only say a few words—Isänmesez [Hello], Kil monda [Come here], and matur [beautiful].

  • 115 Pesmen (2000a) states that many Russian Siberians were relearning farming techniques in the 1990s (...)

95Categorizing Soviet peoples as rural or urban not only discounts their past and present-day economic and social interdependency, but moreover disregards the large amounts of time urban people currently spend in rural settings, often with close relatives. And despite post-World War II representations of Russia, urban people have not been freed from working the land. On the contrary, at the turn of the 21st century more and more city dwellers in Russia spend the warm months farming plots of land called dachas.115 Dachas serve the dual purpose of providing land for ex-Soviets to grow fruits and vegetables to get through the difficult winter and spring months and a summer holiday retreat away from the urban bustle.

  • 116 Tugan avyl or tugan yak in Tatar.
  • 117 Some non-Tatars likewise make visits to villages for celebrations of holidays like Sabantuy, but t (...)

96More specifically to Tatarstan, the urban-rural dichotomy contradicts evidence that Kazan Tatars’ historical movement back and forth between city and country continues into the 21st century. Despite the existence of a vibrant urban intellectual Tatar culture prior to the October Revolution, from the latter decades of socialism through the present day Tatar-speakers express a patriotic attachment to the soil of their birth villages.116 This attachment—idealized though it may be—often forms the basis for contemporary Tatar literary works, news reports, music videos, and oral histories. Attachment to the land creates a foundation for maintaining village ways in the city and, significantly, makes an unambiguous claim to indigenous rights to Tatarstan’s territory. The tendency to maintain ties to the country continues, as most Tatar-speakers living in Kazan “return” to birth villages as often as once a week and for long periods during the summer months. In cases in which a person’s own village is far away or no family members remain there, people usually spend time in their spouses’ villages.117 The strength of urban-dwelling Tatars’ ties to their home villages can be materially measured by the quantity of perishable groceries from those villages, especially dairy products, they keep in their city refrigerators.

  • 118 To return is “kait-” and “vozvrashchat’sia,” while to go is “bar-” and “poekhat’orsezdit’” in T (...)

97Tatar migration patterns differ from the general Soviet practice of commuting during warm weekends and summer holidays to a dacha. Rural-born Tatars often possess dachas, which they may visit in addition to their natal villages. More importantly, Tatars conventionally speak of returning home to their villages, even if they were born elsewhere, whereas people speaking of visiting dachas use the verb “to go.”118 And while codes of acceptable behavior differ at the dacha—just as they do in villages—from those current in the city, normative behavior for the dacha and the village also differ significantly from each other. At the dacha it is acceptable to wear clothing inappropriate for urban public domains, such as a brassiere with no shirt or a t-shirt and underpants. In my visits to Tatar villages, I never saw anyone walk outside half-clothed.

98When they enter a Tatar village, Tatars cross a boundary of cultural and linguistic practices. Women remove the fur hats they wear in the city some six months out the year and don headscarves. And men and women alike switch from speaking a mixture of Russian and Tatar to speaking only Tatar, as conversations become both more formalized and kin-inflected than they tend to be in Kazan. Indeed, my limited observation of Tatar village life showed that while in them Tatars adhere to age-hierarchy deference formulas and consistently use kin terms, preceded by first names, when addressing or referring to relatives and non-relatives alike. By contrast, most Tatarstan Russian-speakers who migrated to towns and cities during the Soviet period usually maintain only loose and infrequent ties to the villages from which they emigrated, perhaps as a way of differentiating themselves from Tatars. While the Russian-dominant children whose schools I visited almost daily in 1999–2000 in Kazan never talked about going home to their villages, the Tatar-dominant children often did.

Hayseeds, or Nation-builders from the Kolkhoz

99An urban Tatar teacher whom I heard lecture on 1970s Soviet history to students at the Lab School in 2000 asserted that Soviet people were easily manipulated because the majority of them were villagers living in cities who, unfamiliar with urban culture, did whatever they were told. She may have spoken from personal knowledge, since both her parents were rural migrants.

  • 119 Or from sovkhozes, that is, “state farms.” But, since people in Tatarstan don’t talk about sovkhoz (...)
  • 120 These institutions are elsewhere referred to as the “linguistic marketplace.” See Bourdieu (1991), (...)
  • 121 For more on how linguistic differences can come to indicate cultural ones, see Schiefflin, Woolard (...)

100When they reached adulthood, rural Soviets often moved from the kolkhozes or collective farms upon which they had been born and raised to the nearest city.119 The adult children of such migrants I know in St. Petersburg cite the absolute lack of goods—no shoes at all for sale in village stores—as a primary reason for making the move to a new life. Village Tatars have followed this general pattern of migration, although not, according to them, for material reasons. Rather, they say they moved to Kazan in hopes of receiving higher education. What they discovered there was an environment inimical to Tatar language and the people who spoke it. Both formal and informal institutions continue to pressure migrants to discard Tatar language and culture for Russian language and culture.120 Since many of them had no previous experience conversing in Russian, they found themselves at an extreme disadvantage in their new environment. The result of this migration pattern was that linguistic differences came to be perceived as national, and national differences as geographic, eventually, emerging in politicized forms.121 With the rarest exceptions—I only know two who grew up in Kazan—the Tatar nation-builders active in Tatarstan’s sovereignty movement in the 1990s were village-born and raised, having moved to Kazan in the 1960s and 1970s to go to university.

101Tatar-speakers migrating from the countryside during the Soviet period encountered an environment hostile to their language and culture. Except for occasions when their experiential knowledge became professionalized—that is, they became academics or journalists who worked in Tatar or were incorporated into Party cadres—Tatar-speakers frequently ended up in low-status positions requiring minimal training, as janitors, unskilled laborers, or selling things at bazaars or in shops. Despite their low social status, the sales positions afforded migrants the advantage of firsthand access to the things they sold, which (I am told) they were more likely to share with other Tatar-speakers than with Russians. Working as a janitor or unskilled laborer brought no appreciable benefits.

Rural Migration and Assimilation Pressures

  • 122 My thanks to two junior Tatar historians, Nail Garipov and Aidar Khabutdinov, for helping me to un (...)

102Given that Tatar had been transformed into a “village language” by the 1940s, if not earlier, the question of why Tatars expressed strong nationalist sentiments once perestroika afforded them the opportunity to do so can be understood as a story about villagers who moved to the big city and had difficulty accommodating to urban life.122 Hayat apa’s first experiences in Kazan are illustrative of those of many Tatar-speakers who migrated to the city to attend university. At the time of our conversation, Hayat apa was in her early 40s, married with two children. She had a delicate nose, full mouth, and dark hair, which she wore gathered up on top of her head. She always regarded the world with an open, unwavering brown-eyed gaze and her demeanor conveyed a majesty that literally stopped traffic. Hayat apa described her arrival in Kazan in 1970, at the age of 17, this way:

I graduated from a Tatar school. I grew up in a Tatar village. When I came to Kazan and wanted to get into the university, they said to me, “Take your oral history exam in Russian.” I had never studied history in Russian. I didn’t speak Russian until I was 17 years old. It was completely unnecessary in my village. I had good teachers, but they didn’t teach us how to speak Russian. It’s as if you were told that you had to take an ethnography exam in Tatar.
“You don’t know Russian, then go to the Agriculture Institute,” they said. O-ho, Tatars were so afraid of higher education institutions! A lot of them went to the Agriculture Institute because you could speak Tatar there.

103Somehow, Hayat apa managed to get in to Kazan University, but she added:

104The first years were so difficult. They required that you know Russian, but they didn’t teach it. So, I moved in with a Russian babushka. I rented a room from her and started speaking Russian with her.

105The story of Hayat apa’s move to Kazan arose out of a conversation about Russian chauvinism, itself sparked by her asking me what Americans thought of the war in Chechnya begun in 1999. At the time, we were sitting in the back of a school classroom, in the teacher’s “office”—a section separated from the main body of the room by a row of bookcases. The classroom door opened frequently while Hayat apa was talking. We would hear voices coming indistinctly from the hallway or sometimes quite clearly in the room just on the other side of the bookcases. Each time she heard the door creak, Hayat apa looked up and asked nervously who was there. Only after the intruder identified him- or herself and then left the room would she resume speaking.

106Echoing statements Tatar-speakers made to me innumerable times about being chastised, shamed, ridiculed, and even beaten when they spoke Tatar in public, Hayat apa described her early reception in Kazan, “For speaking my own native language in my own city, they expelled me from the tram. They made an example of me and I was forced to go on foot.”

  • 123 Yakupova (2000: 18).

107Evidence of intolerance for speaking Tatar in public domains comes from written accounts as well. One from the 1980s describes how a young geological physicist named Rifkat Kurmashev preparing for a business trip to Egypt suddenly remembered that his grandmother was expecting him for lunch. He asked to use the telephone in the Ministry of Oil Production, where he was awaiting his travel documents, to call her and explain—in Tatar, since she didn’t know Russian—why he couldn’t come. When he hung up the phone, the woman sitting next to it yelled at him, “Young man, you should be ashamed of yourself!” He looked around the room and noticed dozens of government bureaucrats staring at him as if he were a savage.123

108Although incidents like this ceased to occur some time after 1990 when Tatar was made a government language—at least I never observed any in the late 1990s—Russian-speakers still demand that Tatars speak Russian to each other in their presence. Indeed, once Putin compromised Tatarstan sovereignty in 2000, these demands became more frequent. Moreover, a tacit understanding exists in linguistically mixed settings that speaking Tatar for any length of time in the presence of Russians creates mounting tension and is barely tolerable.

109For example, in December 2000, I took a bus to the town of Derbyshki, a suburb of Kazan, to take a look at Tatar audio and video resources housed in a Tatarstan Ministry of Education office there. I had met Rifkat, the technician who invited me to view the resources, in Kazan at a conference on education. A middle-aged Tatar with awkward glasses and tobacco-stained teeth, Rifkat clearly took great pleasure in having the opportunity to show me his materials. When I arrived, he introduced me to his boss and the office secretary—both Tatar women. Rifkat’s boss took my heavy winter coat and fur hat and hung them in her office. Then the three of them invited me to sit with them at a dinged up wooden table surrounded by plastic chairs. With customary Tatar hospitality they made me a cup of tea and placed an open box of chocolates in front of me. When I objected that I couldn’t drink tea alone, they assured me that they had just had theirs. As I drank my tea, they politely answered my questions about their office and what it produced.

110Afterwards, Rifkat showed me the collection of audio and video tapes for loan to schoolteachers in Kazan and its environs and we picked out several videotapes to view. While we were watching them, back at the wooden table drinking tea, a fourth officemate appeared and Rifkat introduced her to me. A stocky middle-aged Russian woman with inexpertly dyed hair, she made herself a cup of tea and joined us. After a few minutes, the Russian officemate began speaking in Russian at a volume louder than the Tatar videotape, making it impossible to follow the soundtrack. During the course of the next hour, she repeatedly interrupted our viewing of Tatar tapes, telling me in Russian that Tatars no longer think in their own language and therefore there was no reason to study it. Continuing our earlier conversation on Tatar language materials, which had taken place in Tatar, would have been impossible without explicitly excluding her. Later, when Rifkat accompanied me to the bus stop—a custom called ozatu—I expressed my irritation about his Russian officemate’s rude behavior. Rifkat literally shrugged off the incident and claimed that her behavior hadn’t been inappropriate, without offering any further explanation.

  • 124 Over lunch one day at the élite English school, the head Tatar teacher asked me if the parents of (...)

111While in St. Petersburg in July 2001, I made contact with members of the Tatar community there. One woman, Nailye—whose family had lived in Petersburg for generations—was so excited by my ability to speak Tatar that she arranged a formal reception for me at the offices of the Permanent Representative of Tatarstan to St. Petersburg. Nailye was not moved so much by my interest in the Republic of Tatarstan, to which she felt only a loose connection, but rather by the respect for Tatars as people my study of Tatar language implied.124 Also invited were a couple of Tatar journalists, a folklorist, and several other notable community people. The director of the Permanent Representative was away on holiday, so his second-in-command received me.

112The first few minutes of our conversation took place in Tatar. Nailye and the journalists asked me questions about my anomalous linguistic knowledge. Soon, however, one of the journalists turned to the second-in-command and asked, in Russian, if he understood the exchange. The second-in-command smilingly nodded and said, also in Russian, that he was catching most of it. It immediately became clear that the second-in-command was a Tatarstan Russian, who had taken a requisite two months of Tatar lessons, but had no functional ability in the language. As soon as the other Tatars realized that this was the situation, the rest of our meeting took place in Russian.

113It turned out, though, that the Russian diplomat received preferential treatment because of his ethnicity, for although several of us had been under the impression that he was the only person in the room not fluent in Tatar, we discovered afterwards that this wasn’t the case. One of the office clerks, a St. Petersburg Tatar in his twenties, was also monolingual in Russian. However, the clerk didn’t let anyone know he couldn’t follow the conversation until after the meeting ended. The concern had been that the ethnic Russian wouldn’t understand and, as a consequence, feel left out.

114As venues of Tatarstan government activity concerned with promoting Tatar language, these two examples both represent contexts in which, comparatively, Russian chauvinism is on the wane. This, however, is not currently the general trend across Russia.

115Coinciding with Vladimir Putin’s assumption of Russia’s presidency in 2000, and reinforced by his policies of recentralization and russification of the Russian Federation’s government, ethnic Russian nationalism has been on the rise. In 2000, Russian nationalism made itself felt in television advertising and food product packaging, where the adjective russkii (ethnic Russian), as opposed to rossiiskii (territorially Russian), was increasingly employed to sell products. For example, that summer a new brand of beer, Bochkarev, appeared on the Russian market. Although apparently the company that makes the beer is Danish, television advertisements for Bochkarev marketed it as Russian beer [russkoe pivo].

  • 125 Plokhy (2006).

116When I visited Kazan after a five-year absence in June 2006, television—once interesting to watch both as a social barometer and a source of entertainment—had been profoundly dumbed down. This dumbing down was two-pronged. On the one hand, there were even more low-grade American programs than previously and the History and National Geographic Channels had been introduced. On the other, television had undergone a process of re-Sovieticization. Thus, even though talk shows still existed and sometimes concerned controversial topics like AIDS, they all had the stale, rehearsed air of propaganda and lacked previously existing opportunities for audience members to express their views in open discussion. NTV, once known for its criticism of the war in Chechnya and cleverly written shows, like Ulitsa razbitikh fonarei and Kukli—cutting political satire with puppets—when it was under Vladimir Gusinsky’s ownership, broadcast leaden, completely forgettable programs. Additionally, several new government-controlled stations had been created: among these Russkii Iliuzion, which only showed lighthearted, mindless Sovietera musicals and comedies, and Zvezda or Star—a Soviet patriotic symbol—which only televised pro-Soviet programs, either period films about defending the Fatherland or documentaries about the Great Patriotic War. Indeed, Zvezda’s website ( states that the channel’s mission is to promote knowledge of Russia as a velikaia derzhava or “mighty state power”—a national ideology dating back to the early 17th century.125 During commercial breaks Zvezda aired public service announcements in which teenagers with ethnic Russian names described with pride the heroic bravery grandfathers they had never met demonstrated during World War II battles. These television programs, presumably created for everyone to watch, depicted the Russian Federation as if only one nation—Russians—not over a hundred, lives there. And echoing earlier times, they imply that the Soviet Union won World War II thanks to the heroism of Russians alone.

117For Tatar-speakers, this form of exclusion does not represent a new trend. They complain that Russians have been appropriating shared national treasures all along. After recounting the incident during which she was forced off the tram, Hayat apa invoked the iconic story about the russification of nature:

It’s always the Great Russian birches, the Russian river Volga, the Great Russian people... But, I also live here. We also have birch trees and the Volga. I consider my own people to be great, my own language to be great.

118Like the stories Tatars tell about being harassed for speaking their language in public, bringing up the russification of nature serves as a metaphorical reminder of colonialism that Tatars employ at moments when there are no Russians present to take offense.

119When I asked other educated Tatar-speakers of Hayat apa’s generation whether her account rang true, they all acquiesced. Tatar ethnologist Damir Iskhakov told me that in the 1960s, at least, there was a cadre of Tatar academics who helped chauffer Tatar children seeking admittance to Kazan University through the exam process by allowing them to take their exams in Tatar. However, he added that, after being admitted, it took two to three years for them to learn to perform adequately in seminars. Further conversations I had with Tatar intellectuals and cultural leaders suggest that Hayat apa’s experience was the norm for village Tatars moving to Kazan since the 1960s, if not earlier.

120Moreover, one historian informed me that Fäüzia Bäyrämova—the most extreme Tatar nationalist to emerge during sovereignty—had become radicalized because she was a villager who migrated to Kazan for university education and never found her niche. During an interview in 2000 Bäyrämova informed me that when she had tried to gain admission to Kazan’s Aviation-Technical Institute, she was told, “You don’t know Russian. Go back to your village.” Bäyrämova claimed that she saw her first Russian then, at the age of 16. However, Bäyrämova also said that Russians in Kazan are not cruel (yavuz—the epithet used to describe Ivan the Terrible). Only when she went to live in Mongolia in 1975, nine years later, and observed Russian chauvinism there, she said, did she encounter what she calls the “Russian character.”

121Though she was born and raised in a village some 100 kilometers distant, Hayat apa refers to Kazan as her own city. Similarly, Bäyrämova complained that she was told that without knowledge of Russian, she would never get anywhere in life, “Even though,” she stressed to me, “I was living in Tatarstan.” Like Bäyrämova, Hayat apa feels entitled to the right to use her “own language” in public because Kazan is the capital of Tatarstan, her titular national republic. This is a sentiment generally shared by middle-aged, educated Tatar-speakers, even those not originally from Tatarstan.

122Aisylu, a Tatar born in the neighboring republic of Bashkortostan, now lives in Kazan where she teaches at a university. One evening in early 2000 as we strolled down a Kazan street in the Old Tatar Quarter and passed a mosque from which the azan—the Muslim call to prayer—was being sung, she suddenly revealed to me that it was only when she visited Turkey a few years before, in the late 1990s, that she felt free for the first time in her life to be Tatar and Muslim. “Because there,” she stated simply, “you didn’t have to worry about including Russians in everything.”


123In this chapter my goal has been to present historical background on the place of Tatar language and culture in Kazan under tsarist rule and during the Soviet period with an eye to explaining Tatar perspectives about these matters. My inquiry suggests that, despite Soviet policies to develop national cultures and languages, in the 20th century Kazan’s indigenous language once more became marginalized from urban, urbane, universal kinds of interactions. Marginalizing Tatar language marginalized speakers of Tatar in at least two ways. First, Tatar-speakers report they used to feel at ease only in domains marked as rural, such as the city’s bazaars and Agricultural Institute. Second, Tatar-speakers who insisted on their right to circulate outside those domains received daily reminders of the ways in which they were differently positioned from the Soviet Union’s “first” citizens—ethnic Russians. These reminders came in the form of ideology, examples of which include representations of Tatars as limited in their forms of artistic and emotional expression, and practice, such as petty acts of discrimination against people who spoke a language other than Russian.

124Although many Tatars were able to adapt to the institutional requirements of late socialism and even excel within those institutions, they were constantly subject to other kinds of tensions invisible, unfelt, or overlooked by monolingual Russian-speakers. During perestroika, people who began to participate in nation-building processes—many, though not all of whom, were Communists—underwent a kind of transformation from seeing themselves principally as members of a unified Soviet society to experiencing as primary their position as members of a Tatar speech community. This transformation has been maintained by a reconstitution of social networks supported, in part, by new Tatarstan government institutions and the ways that Tatar speech communities overlap with ethnic, cultural, political, and territorial Tatar communities. During the height of sovereignty (1990–2000), Tatarstan Russian-speakers were eager for admission into these social networks, though their enthusiasm abated once Vladimir Putin became Russia’s president.

125The post-Soviet revival of Tatar national culture as an urban phenomenon can be understood in part as an effort by people whose purported or real ancestors were exiled to the countryside to “repossess” Kazan from city folk. Physical exile occurred when Ivan the Terrible conquered the region in 1552. Soviet-period nationality policies effected a second wave of exile by denuding Tatar national culture of its urban elements—both representationally and in actuality—as the state arrested, killed, and otherwise repressed members of the Tatar cultural intelligentsia. After World War II, exile assumed a metaphorical form as the children of migrants from the surrounding countryside had to assimilate into russophone society in order to fully participate in Kazan life. By the 1950s, officially sanctioned and recognized Tatar culture had become categorically rural, positioned at a level of cultural evolutionary development definitively lower than official Russian culture.

126Soviet-period marginalization of national minority cultures was a pervasive pattern across the USSR. It served to erase urban components of minority national cultures and to present them as primitive and rural. The tendency to ruralize non-Russian nationalities was parallel to marking of national cultures as particular, in contradistinction to the perceived universality of things Russian. Because the politics of language and national culture overlapped, the post-Soviet emergence of linguistic differences as nationalized is a predictable one.

  • 126 Beissinger (1996) seems to argue that post-Soviet nation-builders were disingenuous Communist oppo (...)

127Despite arguments to the contrary, post-Soviet nation-builders may not necessarily be opportunistic Communists who have adopted a new label in order to maintain access to political power and the economic benefits that power entails.126 Within Soviet structures national minorities received the promise of an equal standing they could never realize. Hence, when given the chance to begin voicing their concerns about what was wrong with Soviet society—the heart of Gorbachev’s call for glasnost—they began to find commonalties in the sources of their dissatisfaction and to mobilize to create political changes towards, many hoped, greater equality for all. The next chapter explores a vital forum for airing these concerns—letters to the editor published in Tatarstan’s two main newspapers during the Soviet Union’s collapse.


1 Zakiev (1991); Kreindler (1989); Martin (2001); Slezkine (1994b).

2 Dowler (2001).

3 Sultanov (2004: 198).

4 Amirxanov (2005).

5 See Hughes (2006[1934]) for a striking comparison of the lives of Central Asian Turks with American Blacks.

6 For more on the conquest of Kazan, see Halperin (1985) and especially Pelenski (1974).

7 Ruzel Yusupov, who at the time was the Rector of Kazan’s Pedagogical University, asserted in a lecture that he gave at the University of Washington in August 1998 that diplomatic exchanges between Muscovy and Kazan in the 16th century were bilingual and that Turkic, he said “Tatar,” was the lingua franca. Pelenski (1974).

8 Khujin and Sitdikov (2005: 108); Ramusio (1583), v. ii. f. 117.

9 Khujin and Sitdikov (2005: 108–109).

10 Khujin and Sitdikov (1996); Pelenski (1974).

11 Khujin and Sitdikov (2005).

12 Sultanov (2004: 137).

13 Khujin and Sitdikov (1996).

14 Sultanov (2004).

15 Khudiakov (1991: 168–171).

16 Sultanov (2004: 190).

17 Sultanov (2004).

18 Geraci (2001). See also Endnote 35 in Chapter 2.

19 Sultanov (2004: 194–5).

20 Sultanov (2004).

21 See Brower and Lazzerini (1997); Geraci (2001); Geraci and Khodarkovsky (2001); Kefeli (1997); and Werth (2002), inter alia, for background on Russia’s missionary efforts among conquered peoples.

22 Sultanov (2004: 197).

23 Le Strange (2003: 244).

24 Roshwald (2001).

25 Iskhakov (2005). Geraci (2001).

26 Similar reforms took place in Japan as well. In the Ottoman Empire, the reform movement was called tanzimat while the Japanese modernization movement is known as the Meiji reforms.

27 For more on jadidism see Khalid (1998) or any of Lazzerini’s (1973, 1975, 1988, 1992, 1995, 1997) seminal works.

28 Geraci (2001).

29 Amirxanov (2005); Iskhakov (2005).

30 Amirxanov (2005: 51).

31 Amirxanov (2005: 48).

32 Gasprinskii (1985[1881]). Russifying ethnic and religious minorities was not necessarily a goal of the tsarist regime. See, for example, Alpatov (2000).

33 Amirxanov (2005: 48–49).

34 Amirxanov (2005); Gasprinskii (1985[1881]).

35 Geraci (2001).

36 Gasprinskii (1985[1881); Amirxanov (2005: 49).

37 Gasprinskii (1985[1881]: 71) on literacy among Muslims. Heller and Nekrich (1986: 174) state that literacy among all Russians was 7 % in 1855 and rose to 23 % by 1897. Brooks (1985: 4) claims that overall literacy in the Russian Empire in 1897 was 21 %. Since neither of these sources explicitly accounts for non-Russian imperial subjects, parsing the information they contain presents some difficulty.

38 Amirxanov (2005: 140, 51).

39 Amirxanov (2005: 140).

40 Amirxanov (2005: 120).

41 Amirxanov (2005: 135–136); Iskhakov (2005: 88).

42 Amirxanov (2005).

43 Iskhakov (2005). As a result, Tatars lacked knowledge of what was occurring in the 1905 Russo-Japanese War, even though Tatar soldiers were fighting in it.

44 Iskhakov (2005: 99).

45 Amirxanov (2005: 52).

46 Iskhakov (2005: 95).

47 Amirxanov (2005: 114).

48 Amirxanov (2005: 139; 141–142).

49 Amirxanov (2005: 128).

50 Iskhakov (2005: 97).

51 The most notable of the jadid dramatists, Gayaz Isxaki (1878–1954), may rank among the best playwrights in the world. Isxaki, who fled to China after the Bolshevik revolution, eventually dying in Turkey, was a Socialist Revolutionary frequently arrested by the Russian government.

52 Amirxanov (2005: 117).

53 Amirxanov (2005: 132–133).

54 Amirxanov (2005: 135).

55 Valeev et al. (1981).

56 Geraci (2001); Khasanov (1977: 219–220).

57 Istoriia roda Apanaevykh; Fuks (1991[1844]).

58 The relative level of emancipation of a “nationality’s women” is supposed to indicate its level of revolutionary consciousness. As Massell (1974) points out, in Central Asia women were considered a surrogate proletariat. The Soviet authorities assumed that Muslims hadn’t yet advanced far enough to have classes and hence class struggle, since they were considered to be pre-industrial. But even the volume by Valeev et al. (1981) demonstrates that there were Tatar factory owners, workers, and revolutionary activists at the turn of the 20th century.

59 Institut slavianovedeniia (1960); Sharadzenidze (1980).

60 Iskhakov (2005: 101).

61 Slezkine (1994b: 134n, 284) and Zakiev (1991), respectively.

62 Ginzburg (1967).

63 Keller (2001), inter alii.

64 See inter alia Fitzpatrick (1994, 1999, 2003, 2006), Heller and Nekrich (1986), and Medvedev (1989).

65 Khujin and Sitdikov (1996, 2005) indicate that while some Tatars consumed wine, they weren’t known to drink vodka.

66 There is also the example of a video kiosk window display I saw on Kazan’s Tatarstan Street in 2000, which featured five best picks—all trashy, new-release American movies—and a banner which read, in Russian, “What to watch and who to drink with? We’ve solved the first problem for you.”

67 For more on Russian drinking practices, see Christian (1990), Erofeev (1977), Pesmen (2000a), Paxson (2005), and Ries (1997).

68 A hadji is a Muslim who has fulfilled the fifth pillar of Islam by making the annual pilgrimage to the sacred cities of Mecca and Madina.

69 Her exact words were, “Tatar kyzy pärtärdä utyrmi.

70 Slezkine (1994a: 443).

71 By 1958–1959, in the Russian Republic, full 10-year schooling in the native language was offered in only three languages: Russian, Tatar, and Bashkir (Silver 1974b).

72 Kreindler (1989: 49). Statistics regarding what percentage of children studied in national schools versus Russian-language schools were not collected during the Soviet period. (See Kirkwood 1991). Rather, the focus was on the numbers of non-Russian children who were acquiring fluency in Russian language (see Anderson and Silver 1990; Kreindler 1992; Silver 1978, among others).

73 Kreindler (1989: 51; 54).

74 Interview at the offices of the Permanent Representative of Tatarstan to St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, 31 July 2001.

75 Silver (1974c). Staklis (2006) explains that the language of instruction was another significant source of regional variation at all levels of education.

76 Valeev et al. (1981: 68).

77 Children also study at least one foreign language, most popularly English.

78 Dolgov (2009).

79 When I asked government officials at the Tatarstan Ministry of Education about the school closings in 2006, they wouldn’t reply to my questions, saying only that some Tatar schools were being closed in depopulated villages for economic reasons. The data regarding the 111 closed schools originates with the Tatar Social Center.

80 Devlet (2009).

81 When I was doing research in Kazan in the late 1990s, as soon as people found out I was studying Tatar culture, most exclaimed that I needed to go to a village if I wanted to learn about authentic Tatarness.

82 “Particular” with regards to Slezkine’s (1994a) formulation.

83 See Carrère-d’Encausse (1989) on the Bolsheviks’invitation to Tatar jadids to join the Party. See Batulla and Kamalieva (2003); Conquest (1990); Rorlich (1986: 126) on the Soviet secret police’s persecution of Tatar cultural figures.

84 Ginzburg (1967).

85 Akchurin et al. (2006).

86 Martin (2001).

87 See Sultan-Galiev (1984)[1921], “Metody antireligioznoj propagandy sredi musul’man.

88 Turan is one of two ideological divisions of Eurasian peoples found in Pan-Turkism, the other being Iran. Sultan-Galiev (1984[1919]: 9–10).

89 Like the Krondstadt sailors Trotsky had massacred in 1921, Sultan-Galiev was more revolutionary than the revolutionaries in power. See Heller and Nekrich (1986).

90 Sultan-Galiev (1984[1919]: 17–18).

91 Sultan-Galiev (1984[1919]: 19, 22).

92 Sultan-Galiev (1984[1921]: 40).

93 Yakupova (2000: 175).

94 Nadezhda Mandelstam writes about this in her riveting memoir, Hope Against Hope (1970).

95 Rorlich (1986). Socialist Revolutionaries were purged for having opposed some early Bolshevik policies.

96 Unfortunately, I couldn’t find Iliuziia xanym’s relatives said to be living in the US.

97 That is, the father probably denounced other people to save his own skin. See Conquest (1990) for evidence of this trend.

98 Yakupova (2000: 14–15).

99 Poliakov (1992).

100 Woolard (1989) describes a similar kind of conservatism among Castilian-speakers in Catalonia who do not wish to give up their Castilian-speaking social networks of familiars for the sake of exploring Catalan-speaking networks of strangers. In the Ferghana Valley, by contrast, traditionalism became a mode of modernity (Liu 2002).

101 See Brubaker (1996).

102 Slezkine (1994b: 309).

103 The Karelo-Finnish Republic, later downgraded to the status of an autonomous republic, was number 16.

104 See

105 Alexandrova (1984: 50, 39).

106 Faller (1995).

107 Attwood (1993) and Faller (n.d.). On January 17, 1922 Lenin signed a decree nationalizing Soviet cinema for he felt that it was the most important art for propagandizing (Davies 1996: 918).

108 Egorov and Naumova (2005).

109 See Attwood (1993) and Mamonova (1989) for more on women in Soviet cinema.

110 For comparable illustrations with regards to other Soviet nationalities, see Lemon (2002) and Slezkine (1994a).

111 This is similar to how minority performances are perceived in neighboring China. See Gladney (1998), Litzinger (2000), and Schein (2001). Early Tatar theatre featured sophisticated, politically engaging plays spanning a variety of dramatic genres, such as those written by the masterful playwright Gayaz Isxaki.

112 See Lemon (2000) for similar attitudes among Russians towards Roma theater.

113 During a Turkic theater festival I attended at the Kamal Theater in 1998, translations were made into other languages—from Turkish to Tatar and vice versa, for example.

114 Gross (1992).

115 Pesmen (2000a) states that many Russian Siberians were relearning farming techniques in the 1990s and my own interviews indicate that dacha acquisition has increased dramatically over the past 15 years.

116 Tugan avyl or tugan yak in Tatar.

117 Some non-Tatars likewise make visits to villages for celebrations of holidays like Sabantuy, but they visit the villages of Tatar friends and relatives, not “their own” villages.

118 To return is “kait-” and “vozvrashchat’sia,” while to go is “bar-” and “poekhat’orsezdit’” in Tatar and Russian, respectively.

119 Or from sovkhozes, that is, “state farms.” But, since people in Tatarstan don’t talk about sovkhozes, I don’t use the term. Pesmen (2000a) states that all the people she knew during research in the Siberian city of Omsk had parents in the countryside.

120 These institutions are elsewhere referred to as the “linguistic marketplace.” See Bourdieu (1991), Gal (1989), and Irvine (1989).

121 For more on how linguistic differences can come to indicate cultural ones, see Schiefflin, Woolard, and Kroskrity, eds. (1998) and Silverstein (1996), inter alia.

122 My thanks to two junior Tatar historians, Nail Garipov and Aidar Khabutdinov, for helping me to understand this phenomenon.

123 Yakupova (2000: 18).

124 Over lunch one day at the élite English school, the head Tatar teacher asked me if the parents of my Turkish fiancé liked it when I spoke Turkish with them. Because there was no other answer to give, I said “Yes.” She continued, “Yes, because that means that you recognize the legitimacy of their culture. When a person speaks to you in your language, it means he respects your culture.”

125 Plokhy (2006).

126 Beissinger (1996) seems to argue that post-Soviet nation-builders were disingenuous Communist opportunists attempting to maintain their power and authority.

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