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Nation, Language, Islam

Helen M. Faller

Chapter 4. Cultural Difference and Political Ideologies

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“Before, there was one language—the Russian language. Before, there was Soviet history. Now what kind of history is there?”
Äminä xanym, Kazan, 8 June 1998

1Äminä xanym is a working-class käräshen (Christian) Tatar pensioner married to a Muslim. She gave up speaking Tatar in early adulthood in part because her son used to chide her for “saying curse words”—a Russian speech genre taboo for women. Her statement above reflects attitudes common among Tatarstan people and inhabitants of provincial Russia. She misses the Soviet days when there was stability and enough to eat. She is angry at Americans for ruining her life and she hates the shitbag democrats [srannye demokraty] in the Russian government for their inability to provide for the people.

2Äminä xanym’s statement reveals that, for many former Soviets, Russian is the Soviet language. Moreover, her words lay bare how language and history are intricately intertwined as symbolic repositories of meaning integral to how people understand their national identities. They demonstrate that even working-class ex-Soviets are self-reflexive about this relationship and cognizant of the fact that they look to these icons of national identity for clues to understanding their place in the world.

3Äminä xanym sees no use for Tatar national politics, viewing them as chicanery that unnecessarily alienates Russians. She supported Vladimir Putin because she believed his iron-fistedness would bring social order and return Russia’s dignity. From her working-class perspective, Äminä xanym’s obduracy is as logical as it is prevalent. Attitudes like hers were precisely what the Tatarstan government would have had to change for sovereignty to enjoy enduring popularity.

4In 1998, when I arrived in Kazan, sovereignty was generally unpopular among Russian-speakers. Its lack of popularity was part of a general mood of cynicism in Russia resulting from the 1997 economic collapse, in which large numbers of people suddenly lost their carefully accumulated savings. Russian-speakers expressed their discontent with Tatarstan nation-building variously: by speaking over Tatar-language activities, as with the Russian woman who sabotaged the interview mentioned in Chapter 1, by welcoming Putin’s ascension to power for the “order” it would bring, by employing orientalist tropes to depict Muslims as authoritarian or simple-minded, or through passive aggressive behaviors, such as not forwarding subscription requests for Tatar-language publications. At best, Russian-speakers have a complicated relationship to Tatar cultural difference. On the one hand, out of a kind of imperialist politeness they often overlook any dissimilarity from themselves, unless discussing the magnanimity of Tatar hospitality. On the other, they can sometimes assert that Muslims engage in the worst kinds of barbaric behavior.

5Even if Russian-speakers had wholeheartedly embraced Tatarstan sovereignty and everything it entailed, it couldn’t have succeeded, for the simple reason that Tatarstan is part of the Russian Federation and hence, victim to the imperial arbitrariness of Russia’s rule. For Russia to release Tatarstan a general breakdown in the country’s infrastructure involving widespread violence would have to occur. Having observed with their own eyes the raw discord and life-taking hostilities that overwhelmed numerous other ex-Soviet regions during the USSR’s disintegration, Tatarstan people, with the exception of a few extremists, only wish to lessen the chaos that they and their neighbors endure. In spite of the futility of attaining independence—apparent since Tatarstan President Mintimir Shaimiev signed a power-sharing treaty with Boris Yeltsin in 1994—Tatar nation-builders have persisted in trying to advance their claims to Lenin’s principle of self-determination, slippery in meaning even in the 1920s.

6This chapter concerns Tatarstan efforts to build a nation in the absence of a state. It addresses the question of what Tatar nation-builders consider the essential ingredients of the nation, as it is variously defined, and points out the inherent problems in implementing sovereignty. The groundwork for addressing this question emerges from an exploration of the particularly Tatar thought systems that inform Tatar national ideologies. This exploration begins by revisiting the question of cultural difference, touched upon in Chapter 1.

  • 1 This definition of culture resembles Bourdieu’s (1986) habitus—a reworking of Marxian practice the (...)

7As their migration stories demonstrate, Tatars often view the world radically differently from how Russian monolinguals see it. This difference is not just a product of knowing a language other than Russian or the exponentially increased dimensionality in the perceived world that bilingualism affords. It is a question of culture—of the ways in which shared personal histories, upbringing, traditions, family relations, and everything else that goes into the hopper of life experiences teach a person to make sense out of the world.1

Social Networks

  • 2 This bears some similarity to the relationships between clans and politics that Edward Schatz (200 (...)

8Tatar-speakers constantly form and renew social networks. When introduced to someone new, they immediately begin to look for shared connections. This happens not only by asking, “Whom do you know?” but also by inquiring “Where are you from?” and tracing social networks through workplaces and native villages. The goal of these exchanges is to create a link by locating a common acquaintance or shared knowledge of a place, the purpose of which can be instrumental. Rural affiliation is crucial to navigating urban networks as I learned from Fliura, whose family had lived in the Tatar Quarter for generations. When Fliura suddenly became unemployed in the late 1990s, a friend arranged for her to meet with someone in Kazan’s city administration who promised to help her find work. The friend instructed her to present herself as “Tatar,” saying, “Wear something attractive, but not revealing, and speak only Tatar.” Fliura went to the interview and was asked, “Where are your parents from?” “Kazan,” she answered. “And your grandparents?” “Also Kazan.” “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you,” was the city administrator’s response. Because Fliura had no village connections, she told me with some bitterness several years later, there wasn’t anyone with whom the administrator could place her.2

  • 3 To measure the strength of the ties in Kazan Tatar-speakers’social networks, in 1999 I drew a char (...)

9Beyond this, analyzing Kazan’s social networks—tight-knit and overlapping—reveals that the nexes from which Tatar nation-builders have emerged do not parse easily along ethnic lines.3 A social network chart of nation-builders created in 1999 included politicians, university professors, bankers, journalists, theater artists and administrators, schoolteachers, shopkeepers, and bazaar workers—representing a fairly broad variety of occupations ranging from high to low prestige.

  • 4 According to Saligaev, the Slavic Cultural Society advocates for “the maintenance of Russian cultu (...)
  • 5 These people include, most remarkably, scholars working for the Tatarstan Academy of Science’s His (...)

10In addition to the existence of significant occupational variety in these networks of acquaintanceship, not all the people represented in them are Tatars. Moreover, even strong political oppositions did not rule out ongoing friendly acquaintanceship. Thus, one of the most important scholars working on the development of the Tatar nation speaks regularly on the telephone with Alexander Saligaev, the moderately alarmist Director of Kazan’s Slavic Cultural Society, who not only turns out to be married to a Tatar woman but admits some passive knowledge of the Tatar language.4 Similarly, a Muslim Tatar friend of mine who calls himself a “nationalist” tends the graves of a Russian Orthodox Old Believer family who came from his natal village. Beyond this, Tatarstan’s most radical and controversial nationalist, Fäüzia Bäyrämova, who is shunned by the government as a dangerous extremist, maintains friendships with Tatar academics firmly embedded in high-level government institutions, despite her effective exile to the Tatarstan city of Yar Chally—the home of the defunct Kamaz Truck factories—in the mid-1990s.5 In a more recent development, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Kazan bureau, which broadcasts oppositionist news, has taken up residence in a building owned by President Shaimiev’s son. The bureau director is married to Tatarstan’s Minister of Culture. Even so, the Tatarstan government pressures RFE/RL to curtail its critical reporting on sensitive issues and the FSB (formerly the KGB) regularly harasses the journalists who work there.

  • 6 See McAdoo (1997) inter alia.
  • 7 When Tatars talk about their place in the world, habitually as one nation among others, they tend (...)

11Thus, what appears to be one large network may be understood to represent at least two interconnected webs of social ties—one of intelligentsia—educated people working in higher education institutions and another of Tatar-speakers of diverse social statuses. Tatar-speakers in seemingly prestigious occupations constitute a cultural élite only for other Tatars, since the rest of Tatarstan’s population generally considers Tatar an uncultured and low-prestige language. As a result, the bonds between people in high and low status occupations in the Tatar-speaking world are stronger than they would be among Russian monolinguals in analogous positions. As with African American social networks, family members are likely to enjoy differentiated social statuses, based upon occupation, and therefore to cross élite/non-élite lines.6 Because all Tatar-speaking rural migrants share the bond of the migration experience, a Tatar-speaking university professor and a Tatar-speaking shop clerk comprise part of the same Tatar-speaking network, the freshness of which is renewed each time the professor makes a purchase in Tatar language using Tatar rules of polite engagement. The non-discreteness of these networks is a measure of the harmonious relations among Tatarstan people with different worldviews, irrespective of their primary language of identification. Indeed, though these networks chart a situation in flux, they simultaneously demonstrate the reproduction of stability in social relations across national boundaries and evidence of the multiplicity of Tatarstan’s non-bounded publics.7

Tatars and Patriarchy

  • 8 Russians have used the purported backwardness of Muslims as a foil to leverage a role for themselv (...)
  • 9 This has parallels with the ways that women’s NGO representatives in Bulgaria, who like Arbatova h (...)

12When Moscow feminist writer and journalist Maria Arbatova came to Kazan in June 2006 to host a conference on women in business for a Russian women’s magazine, the only question she asked the assembled Russian and Tatar entrepreneurs was how Muslim men impeded them in their work.8 In response, the women described how Tatar men had supported them in their efforts to advance their businesses. Arbatova, steeped in the rejection of women’s rights that pervades Russian society, literally refused to hear their words and implied that their statements were evidence of brainwashing.9 She assumed that “Muslim” men must be more sexist than Russian men.

  • 10 Devout Muslims perform namaz five times a day, but don’t pray before eating the way that Christian (...)

13Kazan Russians likewise feel confident that they know about Muslim gender relations. Living in Kazan in 1999–2001, I found a gifted hairdresser, an ethnic Russian who ran her own business. The first time I went for a haircut she told me that her mother knows Tatar and reads the Quran because the mother’s childhood neighbor was a mullah. The mullah’s children had a Tatar nanny, who was also the nanny of the hairdresser’s mother. The nanny didn’t speak Russian and made all the children read namaz [sic] before they could eat.10 During the same visit, the hairdresser bragged that she was so talented with scissors that she styled the hair of all the actors at the Tatar Kamal Theatre and was a frequent guest at the theatre director’s house. She said the theater’s artistic work was simplistic and uninteresting, which also seemed to be her assessment of the artists as individuals.

14On another occasion, when I went to the hairdresser to clean up for a television interview, she was visibly upset. She complained that she had just argued with her husband. They had had plans to go to someone’s house the previous night, but she was late and he left without her. “It wouldn’t have troubled him to wait five minutes,” she said, “it was just on principle. Besides,” she added with tears in her eyes, “it wasn’t my fault I was late.” A moment later, she informed me that she didn’t have any children because both her husbands had children from previous marriages. “When you’re young,” she said, again on the brink of tears, “it doesn’t matter so much, but with age—I’m almost fifty—it becomes important.” I changed the subject in an effort to keep her from crying and told her about the television interview. I said, “They want to interview me because I’m an American who knows Tatar.” She snipped some hair from the back of my head and sighed, “Ah, that is a rare thing,” and continued, “Although my mother, who is Russian,” she stressed, “knows Tatar really well, I think that Tatar is an impoverished language in comparison to our rich

  • 11 See Lemon (2000) on writer Alexander Pushkin and Russian nationalism.

15Russian.” I countered, “I don’t think that’s so. Day to day speech, of course, isn’t terribly rich, but then again, that’s true for Russian too.” I explained, “I have started to read Tatar literature and it is very rich and very beautiful. The problem is,” I said, “it doesn’t translate. That’s also true for Russian,” I added. “It’s no good in translation.” “Yes,” she agreed, invoking a common nationalist trope “it would be impossible to grasp the depth of our Pushkin.”11 “Besides,” I affirmed, “most of the Tatar you hear in Kazan is from people who work at the bazaar. Educated Tatars don’t speak Tatar in public.” The hairdresser concurred.

16In what seemed a nonsequitur the hairdresser suddenly assured me that Russian women are freer than Tatar women. “Tatar women are oppressed. Whatever the husband says, goes.” I told her that among the families I know the husbands may yell, but everyone listens to the wives. I waited for her response. Not receiving one, I gave her an out, “Maybe it’s just the families I know?” She replied, “Yes, it’s just the families you know. Tatar men only care about themselves.” She illustrated her point of view with a joke.

A Frenchman has a wife and a mistress and he loves his mistress.
An Englishman has a wife and a mistress and he loves his wife.
A Russian has a wife and a mistress and he loves the bottle.
A Jew has a wife and a mistress and he loves his mother.
A Tatar has a wife and a mistress and he loves himself.

17The haircut I got that day wasn’t what I wanted and I mentioned to a Tatar friend afterwards that I couldn’t give the hairdresser adequate instructions as she cut because I was trying to keep her from crying. Thinking of a pensioner I knew who would break down in sobs every time she mentioned her deceased mother, I said that there seems to be a tendency among Russian women to cry easily. The friend replied, “True, they aren’t as patient [sabyr] as Tatar women.”

18A Russian-speaking university student I met at Kazan’s German society in October 1999 was similarly eager to tell me that Tatar women are oppressed. As soon as she found out I was in Kazan to study Tatar language and culture, she gave me her opinion of mixed marriages. “Russians don’t want their children to marry Tatars and vice versa. Tatar girls may go out with Russian boys, and want to marry them, but their mothers are against it.” I commented that more than a quarter of the marriages in Kazan in the 1980s were ethnically mixed. She replied, “Well, people do it anyway. They fall in love and get married. But there can be problems, particularly if the Tatar is from a very Muslim family. Where the woman is in second place. He may tell his wife that his feet are cold and she needs to bring him some hot water to soak them. It doesn’t matter where they are. They could be at the dacha, where she would have to draw water from a pump and then heat it up on a stove. He still expects her to do it. And Russian girls aren’t brought up that way. They don’t take to that,” she twisted her mouth into a pout.

19By contrast to the German student’s impression, the Tatar husbands I knew had a sense of their responsibility to their families born of an understanding that working together is necessary for survival. The men drove the family car, if there was one, but it was their duty to stay sober and be ready to chauffer family members and friends as necessary. When guests came to visit, some Tatar husbands helped set the table and serve food, which I never observed in a Russian household. One family I knew—the Apakaevs—had divided up the laundry chores so that the mother washed, the daughter rinsed, and the father ironed (a formidable chore since, as a hygienic measure, Tatars press all their clothing, underwear, socks, sheets, towels, and other linens).

20One afternoon while drinking tea with teenage Tatar girls from the Lab School after our English lesson, the subject of male attitudes towards women came up. The girls said that the boys in their class don’t see them as equals. One, Altinay, asserted that it was “in their blood,” ancient, and the result of Islam. Another, Liliya, a girl with no father, elucidated, “The attitude has always been, A woman’s place is in the kitchen. Be quiet.’” Earlier that day, before our lesson, Altinay and Liliya had recounted incidents they had witnessed of male violence against women. I had shared with the students a comment my Russian landlord had made to the effect that all Chechens should be exterminated. Altinay responded by describing an incident she witnessed on the bus the preceding evening. “A man with tattoos on his hands—evidently from prison,” she said, “Grabbed a girl and beat her head against the wall of the bus because he was offended that she and her friends were laughing. ‘What are you laughing for?’ he screamed in Russian as he attacked her.” This was followed by a story from Liliya about being in the bakery up the street and seeing a drunken husband slam his wife’s face into a metal grate because she reprimanded him for being intoxicated. Both girls presumed that the violent men were ethnic Russians: the first aggressor yelled in Russian and the second was publicly intoxicated, which Tatars so strongly associate with Russians that they ironically call a bottle of vodka urys malae—“Russian boy.”

21My story about violent words—not acts—wasn’t gendered in terms of being specifically directed against women. However, the Tatar teenagers didn’t seem aware that their accounts differed categorically from mine.

22Moreover, they didn’t refer to them later when they were complaining of Tatar sexism and didn’t appear to make any connection between Tatar sexism and male violence. Indeed, on other occasions when we talked about Islam, the same teenagers asserted that Muslim men treat women with respect, although they disagreed over whether women in Saudi Arabia are treated well. Liliya, who thought that Saudi women have it good, contrasted her image of their lives with a well-known adage. She said, “Russians even have a proverb—If he beats me, that means he loves me,” which signifies that if a husband beats a wife, it must be because he loves her: Otherwise, he wouldn’t display such passion.

23In practice, Tatar men are just as capable of exploiting women as any men. For instance, in 2005, a female Tatar journalist I knew was sued for libel because her investigative reporting dug too deeply into questions of Tatarstan government corruption. She quit her job after her newspaper’s Tatar lawyer implied she would have to perform sexual favors if she wanted him to do the work necessary to win her case. The journalist quickly found work in advertising, but the experience left her disillusioned about Tatar-language culture.


24Despite assumptions Russians make that Tatars, as Muslims, should be authoritarian, my experience reveals them to be more flexible than Russians in accepting the unfamiliar. Take, for example, left-handedness. In the Soviet Union, left-handed children were forcibly “reeducated” to write with their right hands. It is therefore understandable that people in Russia would find left-handedness unacceptable. When I lived in St. Petersburg in the early 1990s, Russians were upset and even offended when I wrote with my left hand. Once, in Kazan, an old Russian man, a stranger who saw me writing notes while riding a tram, scolded me for it. He told me to write with my right hand and volunteered his opinion that writing left-handed was a sign that I lacked willpower. By contrast, Tatars reacted positively when they noticed I was left-handed. They said being left-handed was the sign of a talented, intelligent person, though they would have had as little exposure to left-handedness as Russians and, as in Christianity, in Islam the left hand is the sign of Satan. Why their reactions should be so different remains a mystery.

25In another instance, one dark November evening in 1999 I went to a beauty parlor on Bauman Street and received a terrible haircut. The following day I asked some teenage girls hanging out in the hallway at the Lab School where to go for a trim. They asked me what I wanted. I pointed at my head and said, “That it be even, for example.” They looked at my hair and laughed, saying, “Yes, on one side it’s okay, but on the other...” I told them, “It’s already better than it was. I’ve been fixing it myself.” A girl from one of the Russian classes suddenly spoke up, “It’s bad luck to cut your own hair.” Her companions said they hadn’t heard of this superstition, but she confirmed, “If you cut your own hair, you shorten your life.” I responded, “Oh, I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I’ve cut my hair so many times.” One of the Tatar girls interceded, “If you don’t believe in the superstition, then nothing bad will happen.”

  • 12 This recalls the double consciousness W.E.B Dubois describes among American blacks further develop (...)
  • 13 Geertz (1973) explains how culture creates particularized normalities that seem real and universal

26The Tatar girl’s assertion that belief is what gives a superstition force merits comment. Being bilingual, she moves back and forth between a domestic world of Tatar mores and a public one where Russian values largely hold sway.12 This is mirrored by movement back and forth between her parents’ native village and Kazan’s urban setting. Though Tatar moral values hold greater potency for the girl and her peers, urban Russian values—alien to their village-born parents—likewise possess familiarity. Even so, when the hegemonic values are unfamiliar, these teenagers and indeed all bilingual Tatars, like minority language speakers in other contexts, have become used to needing to subordinate their naturalized notions of normalcy.13 They understand that the patterns according to which people structure their worlds vary and that these variations must coexist in order to maintain harmony.

Tatar Islam

27The presumption that Tatar men are more patriarchal than others arises from the existence of certain assumptions about Islam. However, like all world religions, Islam is not interpreted and practiced the same way everywhere, not even among Tatars who live in Kazan.

  • 14 Muslims’scarves, my research assistant Dilbara carefully explained, must be Tatar and not Russian, (...)

28My description of Tatar Islam is ethnographic. It approaches Islam as an experience and part of how Tatars make sense out of the world. In this capacity, being Muslim has great significance as an oppositional identity to “Christian,” whom Tatars elide with “Russian.” Some Tatars embrace Islam wholeheartedly. When they encounter women in public wearing modest dress, they express pleasure at seeing such clean, tidy, white scarves because they perceive wearing a headscarf without shame is a point of national pride.14 Other Tatars were leery of the proliferation of headscarved women. Älfiye, a middle-aged Tatar university administrator, was relieved to discover that my Turkish fiance was not religious. She confessed that she does not like religion, although, she added, “With increasing age, who knows? I am not yet mature. Islam is fine for men, but I’m sure our girls never wore those scarves. What use would they have for them?”

  • 15 A kalfak is Tatar women’s head covering, somewhat like a conical yamika worn on top of the head.

29Similarly, in June 2000, Läisän, a Tatar intellectual in her mid-twenties, assured me that wahabism—the term for the aberrant version of Islam practiced in Saudi Arabia—would not make it far in Tatarstan. Läisän said that when wahabis or even Tatars who have been educated in “Arab Islam” arrive in a Tatar village, people ignore them, unless it becomes necessary to expel them. She illustrated Tatar attitudes towards “Arab Islam” by telling a story about an elder who passed away in her village. The children of the deceased invited an imam who had been educated in an Arab country to perform the funeral services. When the imam arrived, he informed the local elders that what they were practicing was not Islam. The elders all stood up and left the funeral services. Later, after the imam was gone, the elders went to the graveyard and completed their burial rites. To underline her point that “Arab Islam” was foreign to Tatar culture, Laisan explained that Tatar women have never done this, making a gesture as if wrapping her head and chin up in a bandage. She repeated herself to make sure I understood, “Tatar women have never dressed like that. If you want to be Tatar, wear a kalfak.15

  • 16 In reference to why they won’t shake hands with women, Russian men sometimes invoke the following (...)

30Although some Muslims, like the Arab-educated imam just mentioned, would disagree, Islamic cultural practices vary from one locale to another. For example, in some places, Muslim men refuse to shake hands with women because doing so renders them “unclean” for prayer. (Most Russian men won’t shake a woman’s hand either, because they don’t consider women equals.16) By contrast, Tatar cultural rules dictate that a man may only shake a woman’s hand if she proffers it first and thus indicates that the contact won’t violate her sense of propriety. Once a woman extends her hand, a Tatar man must take it and, if he’s being traditional, clasp it in both of his as a gesture of good will. Tatar women likewise shake with both hands to demonstrate their reciprocal openness to each other.

  • 17 Unlike other regions of the former Soviet Union—Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, the Baltic Republ (...)
  • 18 In addition to evidence of this in Chapter 1, see Geraci (2001), who notes that up until the 1870s (...)

31Tatar Islam’s most important historical influence is jadidism. At some point since the mid-19th century, peace emerged as one of its central tenets.17 As Hayat apa explained to me, in teaching Tatarstan history, school-teachers and university professors explain that in the past people lived peacefully in the Middle Volga region (though historical evidence demonstrates otherwise) and consequently present-day Tatarstan residents do not have the right to violate the tradition of peaceful coexistence.18 It was therefore of vital importance to Tatar-nation builders to found an Islamic university in Kazan in 1998 with funding from the Russian government— “So that,” according to Damir Isxakov, “Our children don’t study Islam abroad and come back extremists.”

32Keeping physical order or tärtip is likewise important to being a Muslim. Thus, the students in the Lab School’s eleventh grade Tatar class contributed dues to buy the classroom broom, which was the only one in the school. The other children, in both the Russian and younger Tatar classes, regularly borrowed it to sweep their rooms. And, since there are no paper products in school bathrooms, the same eleventh graders would take turns bringing the classroom’s collective hand towel home to be laundered.

33Tärtip is essential to tärbiia—or upbringing—which a Tatarstan Ministry of Education official at a conference I attended in 2001 pronounced the most important issue in Tatar national education. Officials at the conference advocated creating electives in the Cultural History of Religion to balance out courses in Orthodox Culture the Russian Ministry of Education had recently introduced into schools. In that forum and others, Tatars expressed great concern about the dangers that AIDS and drug addiction pose for their children. “Without Islam,” a prominent nation-builder explained to me in private, “Tatars won’t be sober enough to exist as an independent state.”

Womanly Emotions and Sabyrlyk

  • 19 While I was living in Kazan in 1999, my fiancé, who was supposed to join me, suffered a serious il (...)
  • 20 Ironically, one of the Tatar girls at the Lab School told me Russians think Tatars are always figh (...)

34Tatar culture dictates that sorrowful and angry outbursts, particularly from women, are inappropriate. Being a Tatar entails cultivating the ability to diffuse negative emotions, especially anger, at all costs. Crying is thought to attract bad luck.19 Even at funerals, Tatar women hold back their tears and maintain a calm demeanor. Ideally, women should be emotionally expressive—a sign that they are not repressing their humanity—but their expressiveness is supposed to emerge from a grounded and diffuse spirit of openness [achyklyk] and empathy and an ethical approach to living.20 That is, women’s emotionality is both supposed to serve as a moderating force and requires being kept in check.

  • 21 This is true in other Muslim societies (Bringa 1995). However, unlike Bringa’s description of Bosn (...)

35An unevenly observed prohibition against women of childbearing age attending funerals provides an example of how Tatars attempt to moderate women’s perceived emotionality.21 Several men and women I asked about it told me that the prohibition stems from fear that, if women were to attend funerals, they might give in to their feelings and cry, thereby making the occasion more painful for everyone. One (childless) woman gave the alternate explanation that, since women bring life into the world, they ought not to be present when it departs.

36Both explanations indicate the centrality of motherhood to Tatars’ understanding of what it means to be a woman. For, according to Tatars, giving in to uncontrolled emotional outbursts is antithetical to cultivating the qualities that make women good mothers. Indeed, among Tatar women, the ability to channel controlled emotionality, which Tatars call patience or sabyrlyk, is key to maintaining their responsibility to look after their families and the other people to whom they extend the warmth of kinship. The ability to temper emotion evokes unmitigated respect from men and children.

  • 22 For example, the Russian woman I lived with in St. Petersburg in 1993 was very concerned about my (...)
  • 23 Tatars’stricter sexual mores are evident, inter alia, from the fact that Tatar women don’t wear tr (...)

37Similar to Russians, all the Tatars I spoke to seem to agree that girls only attain womanhood through fulfilling the social roles of wife and mother. However, different from Russians, many of whom think it important to have been married in order to be considered a woman, Tatars foreground the importance of motherhood as a woman’s defining social role.22 Indeed, despite Tatars’ stricter sexual mores, it is not shameful to have a baby out of wedlock once no hope remains of finding a husband.23 Instead, motherhood elevates a woman’s social status. For example, Aygul, the childless woman mentioned above, was in her mid-forties and unmarried. She had a friend, Älfiye—another Tatar woman with no husband or children—who was noted for her bluntness.

38Älfiye once pointed out to me that Aygul never brought men home. “If she had been Russian,” Älfiye noted, “Aygul would shack up with a man in the two-room apartment she shares with her parents with little thought to how they might feel.” Instead, Aygul was careful to maintain the appearance of virginity even though she knew she would never get married—this is Tatar tärbiia. However, despite the Tatar prohibition against sex out of wedlock, Aygul’s mother urged her to get pregnant so that she would have someone to look after her in her old age. Implicit in this practical concern is an ideological one, which is that women cease to be viewed as children once they have reproduced.

39Reproducing removes some of the shame of not being able to find a husband. It also serves as a way for women to demonstrate the quiet, enduring, long-suffering heroism of sabyrlyk. By contrast, women without children have little opportunity to demonstrate this quality. A conversation I had with Hayat apa and her husband about Älfiye illustrates this. When I told the couple that Älfiye had no children and had never been married, the husband broke in with the exclamation, “That’s not a woman!” “Yes,” agreed Hayat apa with a little laugh, “No children and no husband, she’s hardly a woman.” Assuming, incorrectly, that they felt sorry for Älfiye for being isolated, I attempted to temper their concern by adding, “She’s generally cheerful.” “Of course she’s cheerful,” responded the wife, “She’s never had to look after anyone else in her whole life.”

40In a similar application of these standards, most Tatars have ostracized Tatar nationalist Fäüzia Bäyrämova because she violated female behavioral norms. Bäyrämova is said to have physically attacked another woman with whom she had a political disagreement—demonstrating her lack of sabyrlyk. Moreover, Bäyrämova is alleged to have declared that children who are the products of ethnically mixed marriages do not belong anywhere and therefore should be rounded up and put into camps. Tatars view this as a demonstration of Bäyrämova’s lack of maternal feeling and overall inadequacy as a human being. Many of them don’t care whether or not she actually made this declaration. What’s important is that she’s the kind of person who is capable of making it.

41Through my own failure to remain open and sabyr under stress, I came to understand the difficulty of maintaining Tatar standards of behavior. When a local doctor told my fiance, who was visiting me in Kazan, that he was too ill to fly, I went to a travel agency to change the date on his return air ticket. The Tatar agent informed me that the ticket was no longer valid and that I had to purchase another at full cost. I lost my temper and yelled at her. Aisylu, who had accompanied me to the travel agency, smoothed things over by volunteering to share her professional services and connections with the agent. Afterwards, Aisylu agreed that my reaction had been completely inappropriate, patiently explaining that favorable resolution comes from always being able to find a path of negotiation.

  • 24 Pesmen (2000); Ries (1997).

42In contrast, among some Russians, violent outbursts are not necessarily condemned, and, one could argue, even condoned.24 Young men commonly walk around Kazan and other cities in Russia with their right hands bandaged or in casts—injuries resulting from drunken brawls. At funerals, in contrast to Tatar women, Russians wail in dismay like Greek women from Classical mythology. When I attended a funeral for a Russian schoolteacher in her 80s in subzero temperatures—it was minus 25 Fahrenheit—during two of the three hours we spent standing around in the graveyard, the Russian women screamed and cried and clutched at the corpse of the deceased. Meanwhile, the Tatar women at the funeral stood by stoically without tears.

  • 25 See Graney (2009).

43People acculturated to Tatar linguistic practices are trained to keep the peace and to convince their opponents to comply with their wishes through non-confrontational persuasion. At the same time, people are expected to maintain emotional openness in daily interactions. Though Tatar women endure especial pressure to temper their emotions, Tatar men are not exempt from the requirement to maintain peace. Indeed, Tatars do not view small-scale social negotiations as different in kind from the large-scale political negotiations primarily carried out by men. For example, the first time we met, a secretary to Tatarstan Presidential Advisor Rafael Khakimov showed me the Russian translation of Getting To Yes he was in the process of reading. The Tatarstan government has proven itself willing to engage patiently in endless negotiations with the Russian government in Moscow in order to hammer out the small details of political agreements.25 Several Tatars I knew, some of whom were dominant Tatar-speakers and some of whom weren’t, attributed their ability to survive the Soviet period, in part, to being able to control their emotions, contrasting their own reactions to Russian colonialism and the reemergence of self-determination since the mid-1980s with Chechens’ lack of desire to negotiate. That is, the Tatar cultural ideal of sabyrlyk is considered essential to the survival of Tatar culture.

Nation-Building Without a State

  • 26 Turkish recognition of sovereignty meant that people from Tatarstan, like citizens of the Turkic r (...)
  • 27 See one of Tatarstan’s official websites,, for details. Tatarstan has tw (...)
  • 28 On self-determination see Lenin (1927[1914]) and Martin (2001). See Malik (1994) for a thorough di (...)

44Historically, nation-building is usually part of a process to justify and lend authority to an already-existing state. In Tatarstan, nation-building has occurred despite the absence of a state. Notwithstanding its location in the heart of Russia, Tatarstan acted on the terms of its 1990 sovereignty declaration by developing the foreign relations befitting a state. Its foreign relations included those with other polities in the Russian Federation, as well as with external states. Since only the Republic of Turkey officially recognized Tatarstan’s sovereignty, relations with other states were largely ideological, rather than political.26 Despite lack of recognition, Tatarstan successfully created trading partnerships with Germany, Finland, Poland, the US, Lithuania, Turkey, Kuwait, Japan, and numerous other countries.27 Tatar nation-builders drew the political legitimacy for their efforts variously from Lenin’s statements regarding the self-determination of Soviet nations; a statement Boris Yeltsin made during a 1991 visit to Kazan that Tatarstan should take all the sovereignty it could swallow; the artful wording of the 1992 referendum on sovereignty; and the bilateral treaty signed between Tatarstan and Moscow in 1994.28 Since Vladimir Putin’s visit to Kazan in the summer of 2000, these relations have been unequivocally downgraded to commercial and cultural exchanges.

45Internally, Tatars, like other former Soviets, primarily focused on the revival and elevation of the status of their national language—which is the prescribed, standardized, literary version developed by the Soviet state. The Tatarstan government tried to do this by promoting mass media in Tatar and implementing a system of bilingual education for all Tatarstan children. Tatar nation-builders also attempted to support Tatarstan’s nation-building by creating symbols of statehood.

  • 29 Wertheim (2003).
  • 30 This argument was made by ethnologist Damir Iskhakov at a conference on Russian Federalism held at (...)
  • 31 Evidence for which may be found in Rorlich (1986).

46Like all ideologues, nation-builders manipulate the idea of the nation in ways that don’t conform to objective reality. Echoing the exclusionary nationalisms associated with 19th-century Europe, Tatar ideologies sometimes exclude non-Tatars from discourses on the future of the nation while envisioning ethnic Tatars as a homogenous group. They almost always perpetuate the Soviet stereotype that the native language of Tatars is the Tatar language and that Tatars are by definition Muslim. In actuality, ethnic Tatars, Tatar-speakers, and Muslims form three different, if overlapping, publics. Only about half of ethnic Tatars speak the Tatar language.29 Käräshen Tatars are Orthodox Christians and Muslims of various nationalities—Bashkirs, Azeris, Uzbeks, Arabs and so on live in Tatarstan. Beyond this, whom “the nation” includes fluctuates— sometimes nation-builders appear to mean all people of all nationalities living in Tatarstan. At others, they imply that “the nation” is “the Tatar nation.” Nation-builders frequently project the local culture of Tatarstan Tatars upon the millions of Tatars living outside the borders of the republic. Since only two million of the 5.6 million Tatars living in Russia, according to the 2002 All-Russia Census, reside within Tatarstan, some nation-builders contend that Tatarstan has a special mission to elevate the prestige of Tatar language and culture for all Tatars.30 Others maintain that because Kazan was a center for Muslim learning in pre-revolutionary Russia, promoting Tatar culture requires Islamifying Tatarstan society.31

47Though Russians perceive Tatar nation-builders as advocates for “the Tatar nation,” nation-building efforts likewise benefit other nationalities living in Tatarstan and beyond its borders. For example, nation-builders created the One-Percent Fund, which committed one percent of Kazan’s budget to supporting the city’s various ethnic organizations. They also developed language materials for Tatarstan nationalities with small populations, such as the Chuvash, Mordva, and Mari, who also live in titular republics on Tatarstan’s borders. The language materials Tatarstan nationbuilders developed for these nationalities were created in consortium and shared with education officials in Chuvashia, Mordovia, and Mari-El.

48Implementing political change requires simplifying the social field. Many nation-builders’ efforts comprise part of a project to balance out Russian political, linguistic, and cultural hegemony with the aim of creating a multicultural society. When asked, they acknowledge that the various communities considered to constitute “the nation” and the boundaries surrounding them are porous, demonstrating that their model is not only based on 19th-century European exclusionary nationalism, but also emerges from indigenous thought.

Tatar National Ideologies

  • 32 Nor is authorship in other contexts as a rule individual. See Bakhtin (1991) and Goffman (1991), i (...)

49The principal ideas that shaped Tatar nation-builders’ attempts to create a Tatarstan nation emerge from such cultural traits as tärtip, tärbiia, Tatar Islam, and sabyrlyk. Additionally, their endeavors were guided by a philosophical approach influenced variously by a collective nostalgic melancholy called mong (the topic of Chapter 7), environmental ecology, and a healthy dose of Leninism. Since Tatars have a strong tradition of literary production, nation-builders have written extensively on the topic of sovereignty. From this body of work I consider below three publications that best represent Tatar national ideologies. Because of the tight-knit nature of Tatar-speaking social networks and Tatars’ habits of collaboration, their authorship is collective.32

50The first work on Tatarstan sovereignty is The Twilight of the Empire (1993), a book in Russian on Russian Federalism by Rafael Khakimov, former advisor to President Mintimir Shaimiev. The second is the Tatarstan Ministry of Education’s National Doctrine for Developing the Republic of Tatarstan’s Educational System (1998), in Russian, which outlines a program for creating the generation of the future. The third source is The Tatar Path: A Geopolitical Analysis for the Fate of Tatars (2001) written in Tatar by Räshit Safin, a retired military officer and former leader in the Tatar Social Center (TOTs), a political organization.

Federalism from a Tatar Perspective

51In order to understand Khakimov’s arguments in The Twilight of the Empire, it is necessary to know whom he is writing against. One such person was Russian ethnographer Galina Starovoitova, who while serving as

52Yeltsin’s Minister of Nationalities, repeatedly voiced the opinion that Tatarstan could not be deemed sovereign because its majority population was not Tatar. According to the 1989 Soviet census, only 48.5 % of Tatar-stan’s population was Tatar.

53Khakimov is also in dialogue with Russian nationalism of the variety propounded by writer and former dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn. In 1990, a Parisian press published the Russian-language version of Solzhenitsyn’s volume How To Rebuild Russia and made it available in the Russian Federation. In it Solzhenitsyn proposed that the Soviet Union disaggregate and Russia redraw its borders to include Ukraine, Belarus, and northern Kazakhstan, where the majority population is ethnic Russian. Russia would thus cast off the rest of the Soviet Union as an impediment to advancement. The book completely ignores the existence of non-Russian nationalities in Russia and the other Soviet republics.

  • 33 Tolstaya (1992: 29).
  • 34 “Dissident writer Solzhenitsyn returns,” BBC News, 27 May 1994.

54As Muscovite writer Tatiana Tolstaya aptly noted in her review of the book’s English translation, Rebuilding Russia, “If someone in Russia were to take Solzhenitsyn’s recommendations seriously and set about fulfilling them point by point, the country would collapse within a month.”33 Be that as it may, how most Russians received Solzhenitsyn’s ideas in the early 1990s is difficult to gauge. Several intellectuals I interviewed in St. Petersburg and Moscow considered Solzhenitsyn to be out of touch with Russian reality, though, when he returned to Russia in 1994 after 20 years in exile, thousands of Russians turned out to welcome him.34 Like other nations suffering from economic and political instability, Russians don’t necessarily shun extreme nationalism, as evidenced by the uninterrupted popularity of Russian nationalist Duma Deputy Vladimir Zhirinovsky since the early 1990s and the lack of criminal prosecution of a spate of racially motivated attacks against minorities that began in the late nineties. Most significant for the purposes of this discussion, however, is that Tatar nation-builders take Russian nationalist discourses seriously.

55Khakimov argues that while Stalinist concepts of ethnos and nation still hold sway in Russia, they

  • 35 Ethnos is the term for a biological category Soviet ethnologists use to generalize beyond any conc (...)

explain hardly anything about social processes.... For an ethnos to exist, it is not necessary it have all the signs of the “Stalinist” definition—a shared language, territory, culture, economic, and psychological disposition.35

56Khakimov provides examples of how Tatars historically have not fit the Stalinist definition of ethnos as a biological category:

  • 36 Khakimov (1993: 20).

Moreover, the Stalinist definition does not exemplify the characteristics of a nation because it does not contain the most important indicator of nationhood—the ability to govern. That which transforms a collective of people into a nation is government. The citizens of a government who live according to common interests comprise a nation. By the way, that is exactly why nationality is not displayed on western passports. All citizens are considered to belong to the nation, irrespective of their ethnic origin. Any citizen of France, whether he’s German, an Algerian by birth or a Turk by origin, is considered French.36

  • 37 Khakimov (1993: 32).

57French Algerians might beg to differ with Khakimov’s idealization of French society. All the same, Khakimov correctly asserts that the Russian Empire’s government has historically neither been ethnically Russian nor expressed the national interests of Russians. As a consequence, he claims, ethnic Russians living in Russian provinces have more in common with colonized indigenous peoples than they do with the Russians in the metropole, who have benefited from ruling and exploiting those provinces. This is why, Khakimov explains, Russians, Chuvashes, and other “ethnoses” living in Tatarstan voted in favor of sovereignty. Together, he adds, “they constitute a people,” which, Khakimov defines as a group that realizes that it is a subject of history, possesses a concrete territory, and is “prepared to live together on that shared territory while striving to obtain political rights to independent rule of its own government, economy, and culture.”37

58At the same time, Khakimov argues, this people cannot be bled of its various ethnic particularities. Democratization requires giving greater rights of self-rule to Russia’s various polities, many of which the Soviet government defined as the titular territories of particular indigenous peoples. Khakimov insists:

  • 38 Khakimov (1993: 40).

It is not possible to separate the “national” from the “human” in a person. Individuals are the bearers of historical traditions who become persons thanks to language and education. Therefore civil rights include, first and foremost, the right to speak one’s native language, to develop one’s culture, to possess the means to exist, and so on. Without these elemental, natural rights, the rest does not have any meaning.38

59Raised in the USSR, Khakimov presumes that national identity takes precedence over all others.

Tatarstan Educational Reform

  • 39 History Institute (1998: 4).

60The title of the Tatarstan Ministry of Education pamphlet, National Doctrine for Developing the Republic of Tatarstan’s Educational System refers to education in the broadest sense of the term, as “Obrazovatel’novospitatel’nii.” The Russian word obrazovanie signifies education with regards to the school subjects children study, while vospitanie means up-bringing, the Tatar word for which is tarbiia. The pamphlet does not list the Doctrine’s individual authors. Rather, its collective author is the Center of History and the Theory of National Education at the Tatarstan Academy of Science’s History Institute—a Tatar scholarly institution Khakimov directs—which suggests that the authors are all Tatars. Despite this, the Doctrine’s broad-minded vision is ethnically inclusive in its proposals for cultivating the republic’s future generation, which it calls “Tatarstan’s national wealth.”39

  • 40 History Institute (1998: 5).
  • 41 History Institute (1998: 12)
  • 42 History Institute (1998: 8).

61Voicing a commonly articulated view, the Doctrine describes circumstances that make Tatarstan unique. These concern its location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia and the consequent mixing of cultural influences from each continent, the peaceful coexistence of Islam and Christianity, and the co-residence of numerous nationalities.40 The Doctrine proclaims that the “first stage of reform of the Republic of Tatarstan’s educational system is fundamentally realized. The educational system is freeing itself from the legacy of totalitarianism. It is becoming more open, democratic, and diverse.”41 Despite this advance, since “only 15 % of children today are born absolutely healthy,” it emphasizes, “it is crucially necessary to strengthen the public health orientation of preschool institutions.”42

  • 43 History Institute (1998: 3).

62Notwithstanding its recognition of the deplorable state of public health, otherwise generally ignored by post-Soviet government institutions, the Doctrine primarily focuses on cultivating children’s mental health and hence, it argues, their social health as well. Thus, the Doctrine “proceeds from the assumption that education plays a primary role for the Republic of Tatarstan in developing national culture and the nation, the formation of civil society, and a transition to steady economic growth based on modernized industry” and “takes into account the ideals, goals, and values of the people of sovereign Tatarstan.”43

  • 44 History Institute (1998: 4).

The Doctrine proposes creating a flexible, open, and emerging system of uninterrupted education...capable of guaranteeing the Republic of Tatarstan’s preparedness to meet the historical challenges of the 21st century...including the long-term development of the Tatar nation, increasing general national unity and civil concord, economic growth, social and professional mobility, the standard of living, and public health; and acquisition by every citizen of a primary education.44

63The Doctrine emphasizes that all citizens should have equal access to education, regardless of social status and sphere of professional activity. However, the most important task is to socialize young people correctly. The authors explain their plan:

The National Doctrine for Developing the Republic of Tatarstan’s Education System declares the need to form in the growing generation a moral temperament based upon spiritual and ethical values common to all mankind... as follows:

  • Attitude towards society—civic socialization (citizenship, respect for the law, social activism and the conscientiousness of a citizen of the Republic of Tatarstan)
  • Attitude towards the public—nurturing humane behavior (respect for the rights and freedoms of the individual; worthiness and decency)
  • Attitude towards culture (valuing cultural achievements, nurturing spirituality, national self-awareness and national uniqueness; accepting beauty and harmony)
  • Attitude towards work and future profession (nurturing industry and respect for working people of all professions; consciously choosing a profession), and
  • Personal relations (valuing family, children, and friends; ethical family socialization with a regard for ethnopedagogy—formation of a conscience, honesty, and a sense of decency).45

64Ethnopedagogy refers to upbringing within the traditions of a particular ethnicity without the interfering domination of another ethnic group. The term has significance, because, as Khakimov indicates, Tatar nation-builders believe that civic responsibility emerges from being secure in one’s own ethnic identity. The schoolteachers involved in nation-building whom I interviewed frequently stated, “If a person respects himself as a member of a worthy nationality, then he can extend that respect to people of all other nationalities.”

  • 46 History Institute (1998: 6)
  • 47 History Institute (1998: 7).
  • 48 History Institute (1998: 9).

65But, Tatar nation-builders’ breadth of vision for social change exceeds the national. They consider that education will have a significant role in Tatarstan’s gradual entrance into the world market and in reshaping social structures. They propose shedding totalitarianism and encouraging democracy by creating different models for educational institutions and by promoting teachers’ creativity and initiative through freeing them from Ministry of Education decrees.46 Additionally, they seek to increase children’s and teachers’ ability to use computer technology.47 Finally, the Doctrine states that maintaining schools in agrarian settlements is necessary to discourage migration to large population centers, which contributes to overcrowding.48

The Tatar Path

  • 49 The inscription reads, “Bu kitapta tatar ideologiiasy nigezläre bar.”

66Tatar yuly [the Tatar path] is the title of a book and is also a philosophy supported by a handful of élite intellectuals whose program for shaping the future of Tatarstan is the most radical of those considered here. The book Tatar yuly, written in Tatar by Räshit Safin, was presented to me by its editor, Damir Isxakov. In the inscription to the copy he gave me, Isxakov noted, “This book contains the foundation of Tatar ideology.”49 In Tatar yuly’s preface, as well as during a personal interview in 2001, the book’s author specified that his ideas are the fruit of the national movement’s 12 years of growth.

67Safin perceives the world to be in a state of crisis, the nature of which he explains as follows:

  • 50 Safin (2001: 5).

Why is it that humankind, in order to preserve itself and to guarantee conditions that will allow for the continued growth of civilization, is obliged to keep in mind the demands of individual societies—among them nations—and people? Because the multitude and variety of weapons of mass destruction, the growth of terror technologies, the proliferation of nuclear arms, and other threats to civilization have reached a level such that individual groups, even individual people, are able to put the safety of all life on Earth in peril... In short, the problem facing humankind is immense and normalizing it will require the participation of all peoples—including us.50

68In addition to weapons, Safin considers the global economy’s increasing demand for natural resources a threat to life on earth. The situation is particularly dire since, Safin maintains, the world population is projected to increase to nine billion over the next 50 years and the disparity in wealth between rich and poor countries will lead to a geopolitical crisis. Safin explains, the hunger of starvation is terrible. But hunger results not only in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, it creates an ideological crisis. The solution to this crisis, Safin asserts, is Tatar Islam.

69According to Safin—who writes that Tatar Islam is “simply Islam”— Tatar Islam is no more than a political term used to unite Tatar people. Nevertheless, Safin positions how Tatars practice Islam between the two extremes of “atheism” and “Islamism.” The key to living life correctly is balance. Safin elucidates his point:

  • 51 Safin (2001: 88).

In the Quran humankind is spoken of as the slave of Allah, on the one hand, and the Master of the planet, on the other. Do humans—Muslims among them—comprehend this? Does humankind correctly understand the relationship between being slave and Master? The fate of humankind is tied to understanding this relationship. It has consequences for individual nations.
Allah has created Humankind as Master on Earth’s surface. To be master is to direct, that is, to cause action. This requires freedom. God gave freedom to almighty Humans. So that Humans make proper use of freedom God gave us Reason. Real freedom is bound by the laws of nature. In order that we might understand those laws properly, Allah gave us the almighty Quran.51

70Safin takes issue with overly zealous interpretations of the word “Islam,” which literally means “submission (to Allah’s will).” He complains that Muslims forget the need to balance out submission with mastery.

  • 52 Safin (2001: 89–90).

Many Muslims themselves do not understand this. They take pleasure in the word slavery and forget that they are Masters. They become too timid, and having fettered their desires, give themselves over to fanaticism. They change into brainless, weak-willed organic robots...this is why Muslim countries have fallen into a distressing state. [By contrast,] western-cultured peoples take pleasure in being Masters. They have embarked on the path of not heeding the divine lessons. But Allah is warning them as well. The dominance of western culture, founded upon atheism, today has brought human civilization to a global crisis. To be Master on Earth and, at the same time, to not forget that we are Allah’s slaves, to know the correct relationship between the two is a Tatar trait.52

71Tatar yuly adherents suggest that the understanding of balance individuals acquire from studying the Quran should be cultivated in all aspects of life. This includes geopolitical affairs—lessening disparities in wealth, preserving the natural environment, and promoting peace—as well as in personal matters, including language use. Another member of the Tatar yuly movement, Farit Urazaev of the Tatar World Congress, explained in a 2001 interview that he delights in being a balanced Tatar-Russian bilingual, especially due to the two languages’ mirrored syntax. Urazaev demonstrated the pleasure he derives from bilingualism by beginning an utterance in one language and, at its apex, switching into the other. He implied that his balanced bilingualism indicates his ability to counteract Russian hegemony with pride in his own nation, without having to become a national chauvinist. Maintaining balance is likewise key to negotiating with Moscow, as it has been through cultivating the middle way that Tatars have achieved Tatarstan’s special status without bloodshed.

72Because Tatar yuly is an all-embracing philosophical approach to living on Earth, Safin explains, it is the Tatar nation that will unite Eurasia and help the countries of western and central Europe, the Far East, India, and the Near and Middle East achieve balance in international relations.

  • 53 See Chapter 1 and Gasprinskii (1985[1881]), Khalid (1998), Kazanly (1960), Kuttner (1975), Lazzeri (...)

73This mission is not new for Tatars—it recalls Sultan-Galiev’s 1920s agenda with respect to Tatars’ role in building socialism. Even so, Safin’s claim has substance. For example, when in 1996 Russian missiles killed Chechen President Dzhokhar Dudaev with the aid of US tracking technology, Rafael Khakimov was attempting to arrange negotiations between Dudaev and Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Tatar yuly emphasizes Tatars’ roles as political brokers and interprets Islam progressively, which is why adherents consider their movement a legitimate offspring of Tatar jadidism.53

Projecting Sovereignty

  • 54 For a thorough discussion of Tatarstan nation-builders’projections of sovereignty, see Graney (200 (...)
  • 55 The 2007 agreement states that Tatarstan people can request special Tatar-language inserts for the (...)

74In addition to writing about sovereignty, Tatar nation-builders attempted to perform statehood through enacting Tatarstan national symbols.54 Until 2000, the Tatarstan government had plans to issue its own passports.55 The chief complaint about Russian passports was that transcribing Tatar names into Russian changes their meaning by eliding Tatar graphemes with phonological significance into undifferentiated Russian letters. For example, the Tatar name “Räsima” meaning “Woman Ruler” becomes “Rasima” in Russian. In losing its front vowels the name becomes meaningless.

75In another attempt to project statehood, in 1999, approximately half the cars on the streets displayed Tatarstan license plates in place of Russian plates designating Tatarstan. Even at that time, the license plates didn’t have staying power. As Alexander Saligaev, Director of the Slavic Cultural Society, informed me, roadway police outside Tatarstan’s borders had a tendency to strip them from vehicles.

Figure 4.1. Tatarstan’s State Seal, the ak bars.

76More successful symbols of state power have been the Tatarstan state seal, the ak bars, or “snow leopard,” and the Tatarstan flag. The snow leopard is an ancient symbol among Turkic people of Central Eurasia. Tatar artist and sculptor Rif Faxrutdynov won a competition to design the state seal, which was introduced in 1992. The white snow leopard in the seal is winged and wears a shield, representing his rule over the elements and his role as protector. His right paw is raised in an imperial gesture. He appears against a red sun disk said to signify the Bolgar Khanate.

77Tatarstan adopted its flag in 1991. It was flown by law on the buildings of all government, public and private institutions, organizations, and enterprises in Tatarstan, as well as on ships. Like the ak bars, the colors of the flag are green, white, and red. Tatarstan government websites describe the colors’ significance as follows: green symbolizes spring and rebirth; white is purity; and red stands for maturity, energy, strength, and life. These interpretations are not, however, universal. In one specialized, but not specifically Tatar-language gymnasium in Kazan, a welcome-to-our-school display explained the significance of the flag’s colors as follows: green is for Islam; white is for religious purity; and red is for renewal. A self-proclaimed Tatar nationalist friend provided a third interpretation. He stated that green is the Islamic color of renewal; white signifies the pretty words of an imaginary peace; and red is included because ex-Communists want to display the correct color in case of a return to the old order.

78During my fieldwork in 1999–2001, both the ak bars and the Tatarstan flag were ubiquitous in Tatarstan. Moreover, Ak bars became the name of the Tatarstan branch of the Russian National Bank, as well as the name of Kazan’s extremely popular hockey team. A Russian university administrator told me that the ak bars seal was stamped on Tatarstan university diplomas, which institutions in Moscow refused to recognize as legitimate. Less visible in Kazan was the city seal, a medieval Eurasian image of a dragon, significant because the image of St. George killing that dragon is a core Russian imperial symbol.

  • 56 Malik (1994).

79In addition to other symbols of statehood, Tatarstan introduced a national anthem in 1991. The chosen anthem wasn’t the melancholic song Täftiläü, advocated by the letter writer in Chapter 2, but rather an optimistic and stately major key arrangement written by established Tatar composer Rüstäm Yaxin. While Yeltsin encouraged the autonomous republics to adopt their own flags and constitutions in 1993, Tatarstan had already ratified a comprehensive constitution by 1992, a year before Russia approved its (post-Soviet) constitution.56 In 2000, Putin’s government began coercing Tatarstan to modify the constitution to bring it into compliance with Russia’s subsequent legislation. The resulting document is a thin pamphlet.

Difficulties in Implementing Sovereignty

  • 57 The ways in which former Soviets are fettered by hegemonic structures recalls Virginia Woolf’s (19 (...)

80Even at the height of sovereignty’s authority, significant disjunctures existed between the ideological programs for fomenting change and various levels of practice. First, not all intellectuals engaged in advancing social change in Tatarstan possessed the same clarity of vision as Khakimov, Safin, and the authors of the National Doctrine. Like everyone else, Tatar nation-builders have varied intellectual abilities and personal opinions that affect their responses to initiatives. Moreover, while Tatars believe in the importance of the collective, they simultaneously value the discussion of individual approaches to any and all issues, which can promote factionalism. Second, practitioners involved the quotidian implementation of sovereignty—among them, government bureaucrats and schoolteachers—unevenly possess the training and tools necessary for executing the changes their superiors desired. Third, many Tatarstan people resemble Äminä xanym, whose epigraph opened this chapter, and see no benefit in change. Beyond all this, even nation-builders with the greatest lucidity are impeded by what they deem colonial-period structures and attitudes, including those they have internalized.57 To paraphrase Marx, Tatar nation-builders do not make history under circumstances chosen by themselves. Rather, anxiously conjured up spirits of the past dictate that revolutionizing Tatarstan’s social and political order is at best an unsure process.

  • 58 A retired English teacher from Kazan’s Veterinarian Academy and a Belarusian Jew for whom Yiddish (...)

81For one, a significant disjuncture exists between the breadth of vision shared by Khakimov and other ideologues and the authors of the Tatar language textbooks for Russian-speaking children. I spoke with several textbook authors. They declared that their materials teach oral proficiency in a variety of settings and situations—a departure from the Soviet-period approach to language pedagogy in which the focus is on grammar and translation. In fact, the exercises in their books continue to present Tatar as a code into and out of which to translate Russian sentences. The text-books have little practical use and are not designed to engage children’s imaginations or to appeal to Russian-speaking children’s interests. Thus, tenth-graders enamored of MTV are asked to study provincial folksongs. In a representative example from one textbook the question “What will you eat?” appears in both languages, surrounded by colorless line drawings of beets and carrots printed on poor quality, yellowed paper. Indeed, except for one volume written by the late Igor Litvinov, a non-Tatar whom Fliura Safiullina—Chair of the Department of Tatar Literature at Kazan University denounced for his audacity—the textbooks do not promote Tatar as a spoken, living language.58

  • 59 See for example Jaffe (1993), McDermott and Tylbor (1995), Philips (1983), and Trudgill (1975).

82A second serious disjuncture arises because bilingual education was structured to reflect Soviet-period ideologies about the relations between language and nation, instead of the realities of linguistic knowledge. Assuming that ascribed nationality connotes knowledge of national language, Tatarstan’s education system divides children into either “Tatar” or “Russian” groups. A fundamental problem with this system, complain the children’s parents, is that it doesn’t provide a place to learn Tatar for Tatar or mixed Tatar-Russian children who have little or no contact with Tatar language outside the classroom. The pedagogical methods applied to “Tatar” children presume that they are fluent in Tatar and that their school lessons only serve to augment their knowledge of the literary language. Few children who don’t already know how to speak Tatar before beginning school learn to speak it there. Indeed, barring cases where the teachers are exceptionally lively, engaged, charismatic, and talented, children tend to complain that studying Tatar is drudgery. As a result, realizing the ideals of bilingual education in Tatarstan matches the reality common to school classrooms in other bilingual contexts.59

83Young Tatar nation-builders who achieved adulthood during perestroika often view their more Soviet-minded elders’ efforts critically. For instance, one such nation-builder Nail Garipov, an urban born and bred Tatar historian, gave the following assessment of the difficulties of elevating Tatar from its previous status as a subordinate language. Garipov explained that Tatar is currently taught the way English used to be taught in the Soviet period. That is, children learn to translate texts from one language to another, but not to converse with a native speaker. Moreover, the Tatar language taught in schools is based on literary language and not the living vernacular. Therefore, getting children to study a subject for which they see no practical use is problematic.

84Garipov also described the urban-rural divide, explaining that the ruralization of Tatar language over the course of the 20th century lowered its status. Many Tatar-speakers lack urban experience and haven’t cultivated adequate defenses against city snobbism. Tatar teachers consequently have difficulty exciting interest in Tatar language among urban children. Garipov put it like this.

Most government people and teachers are from villages and their culture is different from urban culture. Teachers’ level of cultural sophistication must be much higher than that of their pupils. But most rural people don’t understand the psychology of urban dwellers and urban dwellers don’t like Tatar pop culture.

85His response to my request for clarification was as follows:

Having a high level of cultural sophistication means that a person can rise above Russian chauvinism. Urban dwellers include urban Tatar intellectuals, who are mostly russified and have technical or medical educations.

86In contrast, Tatar’s intellectual range is limited. Garipov clarified:

Tatar-language publications are geared towards villagers or first-generation urban dwellers. They repeat what’s in official Russian-language sources without commentary. The Tatar classics were written in Arabic script and have not been republished recently.

87According to Garipov, the russification of intellectual activity that began in the 1930s is continuing. Ten years of sovereignty didn’t change the situation. Garipov pointed out why, “The same people are teaching Tatar history in 2000 as were teaching it before perestroika. From 1917 on, orders coming from Moscow have been obeyed. Tatars in high positions always have Russian secretaries.”

88Garipov’s comment about Russian secretaries refers to a Soviet-period surveillance practice where party members from the national cadres at every level of government administration were “underseen” by ethnic Russian secretaries. This form of surveillance no longer exists universally. Rather, it mostly continues to persist metaphorically, since many Tatars have internalized the censorship that keeps them from stepping out of line with respect to the imagined wishes of Russians, not making declarations, for example, that peripheralize Russians. Aisylu’s statement about her first visit to Turkey provides an indication of what it means to live with this specter.

89With the advent of Tatarstan’s sovereignty movement, Tatar supporters began to take measures towards placing ethnic Tatars in the republic’s most prestigious political, cultural, and educational positions. They justified this action by pointing out that only Tatars know Tatarstan’s two government languages and therefore possess the necessary qualifications to manage the republic’s affairs. Making high-level positions “Tatar” resulted in a mad scramble among some Tatar bureaucrats to demonstrate their Tatarness, primarily indexed through their knowledge of the Tatar language. (Talented bureaucrats quickly learned the rules for excelling in the new bureaucracy.) In the Soviet period, except for national cadres, like Tatarstan President Mintimir Shaimiev, bilingualism was counter indicated for success. Summing up the situation as he saw it when we spoke in 2000, Garipov stated:

Tatar in Tatarstan is like a poor homeless child. No one wants to use it. If a person enters an office and says a few words in Tatar, the people there think, “He’s our man. He speaks Tatar.” And then they speak Russian.

90Garipov’s observation regarding the new protocol for entering offices is accurate. On numerous occasions I both observed and participated in this ritual. Greetings are exchanged in Tatar, and then the rest of the conversation occurs in Russian.

Religious Tensions

91Uneven linguistic abilities magnify the tensions inherent in pragmatic code choice. Other tensions—with respect to the religious freedom of Tatars and other Muslims—become greater the longer Vladimir Putin is in power. While Yeltsin impeded Tatarstan sovereignty, Putin actively sought to undo it and his government implemented measures that served to alienate Muslims from mainstream Russian society. Three phenomena that clearly highlight this alienation are the introduction of school lessons in Orthodox Christianity, conditions in the Russian military, and the requirements for obtaining a Russian domestic passport.

  • 60 “School Classes on Orthodox Christianity Introduced in More Regions.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Libe (...)

92I first heard mention of the Russian government’s desire to include a course on Orthodox Culture in school curricula at a Tatar national school conference in 2001. By the end of 2006, 75 of the 89 polities comprising the Russian Federation had instituted “The Fundamentals of Orthodox Culture.” The course is supposed to be an elective, but in 19 regions children are required to take it. While a few education administrators, notably among them the Director of Moscow’s Education Department, have objected to the course, suggesting that children should learn the religious history of all four of Russia’s officially recognized faiths—Orthodoxy, Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism—no concrete steps have been taken in this direction.60

  • 61 There is some evidence that, in Dagestan, parents bribe army officials to post their sons close by (...)
  • 62 As of 2004 alternative military service has been instituted—it lasts 3.5 years as opposed to two.

93In Russia, military conscription of eighteen-year-old men is universal. Less than 20 % of those eligible actually serve in the army. Many young men aren’t healthy enough to pass the military’s lax physical examination and everyone who can avoids conscription, either through paying bribes or getting admitted to a higher education institution, which can be the same thing.61 Since at least 1998, Fändäs Safiullin, Tatarstan Deputy to the Russian Duma and a former general in the Soviet Army, has been attempting to implement alternative service for Tatarstan conscripts.62 Safiullin and other Tatar nation-builders I spoke to about alternate service gave three specific reasons for wanting to introduce it. First, they would like to keep their sons from dying needlessly in Chechnya. Second, they want to protect Tatarstan men from forced participation in the genocide of their fellow citizens, as Tatar-speakers formulate it, occurring in Chechnya. Third, they hope to shield them from the Russian army’s notorious hazing practice known as dedovshchina.

  • 63 Op. cit. 2009.

94There has been considerable western press coverage of dedovshchina, an unofficial institution tacitly approved by Russian military commanders which results in the deaths, suicides, and maiming of thousands of new recruits each year. What the press doesn’t report about dedovshchina, however, is that it makes particular targets out of national minorities and other outsiders—evidence of the prevalence of Russian national chauvinism in the army. Indeed, in the early 2000s, the army briefly experimented with constituting separate Orthodox units, sending Muslim recruits to non-combat and less prestigious construction battalions as a means of protecting them from hazing.63 Even at the official level, Russian chauvinism prevails. While soldiers may attend Orthodox Church services and Orthodox clergy sprinkle holy water on soldiers of all faiths before the latter head into battle, Muslims are not allowed to perform the daily prayers called namaz, even in private. Nor are adherents of Judaism and Buddhism allowed to worship while serving in the Russian armed forces.

95In the wake of the Soviet Union’s collapse religiosity has increased among Russian citizens of all faiths. Among Muslim nationalities this means that young people study at madrases, mosque attendance has increased exponentially, and an increasing number of devout women have begun to cover their heads with scarves in public. Meanwhile, Soviet-period domestic passports are expiring and require replacement with new Russian Federation passports. The domestic passport is an essential piece of identification in Russia. It is required in every bureaucratic encounter, including spot checks by police, withdrawing a book from the library, buying a train or bus ticket, visiting a television or radio station, and paying utility bills.

96Some devout Muslim women object to having to remove their headscarves for their passport photographs, and they took their claim to court.

97After first responding that a person’s ears, neck, and throat must be visible in order for her to be identifiable, in May 2003 the Russian government ruled to allow Muslims to wear their scarves in passport photographs. Opponents of headscarves vowed to overturn the decision and in July 2003 Russian authorities began to require women wishing to keep their heads covered in passport photographs to produce affidavits signed by their local imams attesting to their membership in a Muslim community. This legislation oddly presumes that women wishing to keep their headscarves on may be “inauthentic” Muslims. It also punishes Muslim women for devotion to their faith, for any woman not belonging to a specific mosque or who had difficulty obtaining the affidavit would effectively lose her civil rights. The legislation was quickly overturned later that month, but the rancor it created among devout indigenous Russian Muslims still remains.64


98In Kazan, social networks are constantly renewed, traditionally serving as crucially important means for navigating city bureaucracies. They are unusual in that Tatars and Russians maintain close ties, even when they espouse incompatible political views. In an expression of their continuing sense of entitlement, Russian-speakers feel comfortable instructing outsiders in how to perceive gender relations among Muslims. However, Tatar gender relations differ from what one might expect. As in all societies, women are expected to meet a higher standard of conduct than men, most clearly manifest in the need to remain calm, have patience and find a way out of difficult situations. Nevertheless, the same ethos is employed by Tatar nation-builders in their relations with Russia’s central government in Moscow. Nation-builders pragmatically manipulate “the nation” to refer to various groups of people depending on context. While some Tatar nation-builders reflexively propose progressive, Muslim ideas that emerge from understanding Tatarstan’s role as a subject of history to support the formation of a new Tatarstan national identity, these ideas are unevenly applied.

99This chapter has explored Tatar cultural traits and beliefs that have borne an influence on Tatarstan nation-building ideologies. By stressing the post-colonial hegemony of ever more intrusive Russian rule, my discussion touches upon the inherent, unavoidable pitfalls of implementing Tatarstan sovereignty. As Tatar intellectuals attempted to promote sovereignty through bilingual education and symbols of statehood, the Russian government introduced measures that increasingly marginalized the country’s Muslims in the spheres of elementary education, the armed forces, and participatory citizenship.

100Other aspects of Tatarstan nation-building have included erecting a big symbol of Islam in Kazan’s administrative center and attempting to introduce Tatar language into all of Kazan’s speech domains. These are the topics I cover in the next chapter.


1 This definition of culture resembles Bourdieu’s (1986) habitus—a reworking of Marxian practice theory.

2 This bears some similarity to the relationships between clans and politics that Edward Schatz (2004) describes in Kazakhstan.

3 To measure the strength of the ties in Kazan Tatar-speakers’social networks, in 1999 I drew a chart of my acquaintances, marking down who introduced me to whom. Soon I started to ask new contacts whom they knew and also noted down these ties on the chart. After a few months, the chart had become such a busy crisscrossing of lines it ceased to be legible.

4 According to Saligaev, the Slavic Cultural Society advocates for “the maintenance of Russian culture.” Saligaev’s primary complaints are that children are not taught the values of Orthodox Christianity and that the time they spend studying Tatar in school denies them the opportunity to read Russian writers of tertiary importance (in my opinion), like Nikolai Leskov. Saligaev has been successful in pressuring the Tatarstan government to open special Russian lyceums.

5 These people include, most remarkably, scholars working for the Tatarstan Academy of Science’s History Institute, headed by President Mintimir Shaimiev’s former advisor, Rafael Khakimov.

6 See McAdoo (1997) inter alia.

7 When Tatars talk about their place in the world, habitually as one nation among others, they tend to conceive of themselves as located at the center of a series of concentric circles that describe relative degrees of inclusion. The way they arrange these circles varies, but frequently, neighboring Bashkirs are considered closest to the inner circle, despite the existence of mutual animosities. Other Turks—of Central Asia or Anatolia—or Muslims occupy the next circle outward, then Jews, then Russians and other ex-Soviet non-Muslims. Variation in which nations fill the circles depends upon the person, context, and how speakers seek to stress solidarity and social distance. This variation resembles the ways East Europeans calibrate the difference between public and private spheres depending not upon physical places, but on discursive projections of “us” and “them,” elaborated upon in the next chapter.

8 Russians have used the purported backwardness of Muslims as a foil to leverage a role for themselves as intermediaries in relations with non-Soviets. An excellent example of this is provided by Russian ethnographer Sergei Poliakov’s 1992 book Everyday Islam.

9 This has parallels with the ways that women’s NGO representatives in Bulgaria, who like Arbatova have imported western cultural feminism wholesale, misrepresent relationships between Bulgarian men and women (Ghodsee 2005).

10 Devout Muslims perform namaz five times a day, but don’t pray before eating the way that Christians do.

11 See Lemon (2000) on writer Alexander Pushkin and Russian nationalism.

12 This recalls the double consciousness W.E.B Dubois describes among American blacks further developed in Morgan’s (2002) description of the simultaneous multiple positionalities of speakers of African American English.

13 Geertz (1973) explains how culture creates particularized normalities that seem real and universal.

14 Muslims’scarves, my research assistant Dilbara carefully explained, must be Tatar and not Russian, which means that believers should purchase them at special religious stores attached to mosques and not from government-run department stores

15 A kalfak is Tatar women’s head covering, somewhat like a conical yamika worn on top of the head.

16 In reference to why they won’t shake hands with women, Russian men sometimes invoke the following proverb, “Kura ne ptitsa, a zhenshchina ne chelovek [A chicken is not a bird and a woman is not a person].”

17 Unlike other regions of the former Soviet Union—Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, the Baltic Republics, and elsewhere—in Tatarstan there were only one or two reported incidents of inter-ethnic strife during the Soviet Union’s collapse.

18 In addition to evidence of this in Chapter 1, see Geraci (2001), who notes that up until the 1870s disagreements between Russians and Tatars often ended in bloodshed and rioting.

19 While I was living in Kazan in 1999, my fiancé, who was supposed to join me, suffered a serious illness. After discovering he was too ill to fly, I cried and Hayat apa admonished me, for, she explained, it could bring him worse luck.

20 Ironically, one of the Tatar girls at the Lab School told me Russians think Tatars are always fighting because, as she put it, their speech has emotional intonation.

21 This is true in other Muslim societies (Bringa 1995). However, unlike Bringa’s description of Bosnia, in Tatarstan pre-menopausal Tatar women do attend funerals.

22 For example, the Russian woman I lived with in St. Petersburg in 1993 was very concerned about my lack of desire to marry, until she found out that I had lived with a boyfriend for four years. For her, our having lived together was close enough to marriage to assuage her concern that I might miss out on womanhood.

23 Tatars’stricter sexual mores are evident, inter alia, from the fact that Tatar women don’t wear translucent shirts without brassieres, as many Russian women do. In a conflict that illustrates where the boundaries of Tatar propriety lie, Tatar singer Ilsiye Bädrätin’s songs are banned from Kazan’s airwaves in part because she sings a song about a Tatar streetwalker—a phenomenon outside the perception of proper Tatar society.

24 Pesmen (2000); Ries (1997).

25 See Graney (2009).

26 Turkish recognition of sovereignty meant that people from Tatarstan, like citizens of the Turkic republics in Central Asia, at least until 1998 could enter Turkey without a visa. This is based on information presented in a lecture on Tatarstan by Ruzel Yusupov, Rector of Kazan State Pedagogical University, at the University of Washington, 14 August 1998. I attempted to contact the Turkish consulate in Kazan for confirmation in May 2003, but received no response to my inquiry.

27 See one of Tatarstan’s official websites,, for details. Tatarstan has twenty-six economic trade representations. They are located in six other autonomous regions within the Russian Federation (Bashkortostan, Nizhniy Novgorod region, St. Petersburg and Leningrad oblast’, Sverdlovsk region, Saratov region, and the Khanty-Mansissky Autonomous Region); six former Soviet republics (Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Belarus’, and Russia); four former Soviet satellites (Cuba, Vietnam, the Czech and Slovak Republics, and Poland); and ten other foreign states (Iraq, Switzerland, Austria, France, Italy, Cyprus, USA, Finland, Australia, and Turkey) in the latter three of which there are also significant Tatar diasporas.

28 On self-determination see Lenin (1927[1914]) and Martin (2001). See Malik (1994) for a thorough discussion of the processes through which this legitimacy was created.

29 Wertheim (2003).

30 This argument was made by ethnologist Damir Iskhakov at a conference on Russian Federalism held at the Tatarstan Academy of Science’s History Institute on 25 February 2000 and also in Xalit (1997). It was incorporated into the July 2007 agreement with Moscow.

31 Evidence for which may be found in Rorlich (1986).

32 Nor is authorship in other contexts as a rule individual. See Bakhtin (1991) and Goffman (1991), inter alii. Among the works examined here, however, its multiplicity is documented.

33 Tolstaya (1992: 29).

34 “Dissident writer Solzhenitsyn returns,” BBC News, 27 May 1994.

35 Ethnos is the term for a biological category Soviet ethnologists use to generalize beyond any concrete examples of ethnicity or nation. Here Khakimov is writing against a definition of ethnos by Bromlei (1984) and Bromley and Kozlov (1989), as well as Stalin’s definition of a nation (1950). Khakimov (1993: 20).

36 Khakimov (1993: 20).

37 Khakimov (1993: 32).

38 Khakimov (1993: 40).

39 History Institute (1998: 4).

40 History Institute (1998: 5).

41 History Institute (1998: 12)

42 History Institute (1998: 8).

43 History Institute (1998: 3).

44 History Institute (1998: 4).

45 History Institute (1998: 13–14).

46 History Institute (1998: 6)

47 History Institute (1998: 7).

48 History Institute (1998: 9).

49 The inscription reads, “Bu kitapta tatar ideologiiasy nigezläre bar.”

50 Safin (2001: 5).

51 Safin (2001: 88).

52 Safin (2001: 89–90).

53 See Chapter 1 and Gasprinskii (1985[1881]), Khalid (1998), Kazanly (1960), Kuttner (1975), Lazzerini (1973, 1975, 1988, 1992, 1995, 1997), and Sultan-Galiev (1984) for more on jadidism as an ideology and movement.

54 For a thorough discussion of Tatarstan nation-builders’projections of sovereignty, see Graney (2009).

55 The 2007 agreement states that Tatarstan people can request special Tatar-language inserts for their Russian passports.

56 Malik (1994).

57 The ways in which former Soviets are fettered by hegemonic structures recalls Virginia Woolf’s (1929) statements regarding the need for freedom of the mind in order for creative processes to occur.

58 A retired English teacher from Kazan’s Veterinarian Academy and a Belarusian Jew for whom Yiddish was the mother tongue, Litvinov (now deceased) told me in a 2000 interview that he felt compelled to write Ia nachinaiu govorit’po-tatarski because he was appalled by the low quality and ineffectiveness of the textbooks his granddaughter was using to study Tatar in school.

59 See for example Jaffe (1993), McDermott and Tylbor (1995), Philips (1983), and Trudgill (1975).

60 “School Classes on Orthodox Christianity Introduced in More Regions.” Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty,

61 There is some evidence that, in Dagestan, parents bribe army officials to post their sons close by, in their own regions (Sieca-Kozlowski 2009).

62 As of 2004 alternative military service has been instituted—it lasts 3.5 years as opposed to two.

63 Op. cit. 2009.

64 See Izvestiya’s online article on the topic at

Table des illustrations

Légende Figure 4.1. Tatarstan’s State Seal, the ak bars.
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