Regional identity in everyday discourse among young Tatars in Tatarstan

G.I. Makarova

53-74 p.

This article presents an interpretation of everyday regional unities among the young Tatars in Tatarstan. The content and nature of their regional identity compared to ethnic Tatar and ethnic Russian identities are revealed. The article is based on results from focus groups, which were carried out in cities and in rural areas in the Republic of Tatarstan. The analysis shows that regional identity tends to have significance for young Tatars in Tatarstan. One of the reasons for this is Tatarstan’s continuing socioeconomic development today. Tatarstan has a relatively high standard of living, and is a leader among other polities in the Russian Federation in domains such as technology, sports, and tourism. Moreover, many Tatars think that it is important to support the Tatar language and its culture, as well as their social status in the Republic of Tatarstan. Tatarstan has value for some participants in the focus groups because of its interethnic and interfaith tolerance. For other participants Tatarstan represents their home and their motherland. Finally, for a certain percentage of Tatarstan’s population, Tatarstan is significant as a polity in a country with a large landmass. There are some factors that have a negative effect on solidarity with the region. This include insufficient emphasis on social problems (problems among youth, sociocultural development, and the overall health of the population), and the neglect of historical monuments, as well as the poor quality of the region’s mass media and Tatar popular culture. Symbols related to politics (Tatarstan’s Coat of Arms – the Ak Bars, the Tatarstan Flag, Tatarstan political figures), as well as symbols of Tatarstan’s socioeconomic development (Tatneft, Kamaz, The Universiade) and the sports teams Ak Bars and Rubin were considered by participants as important to the region. Many participants named the heroes from Tatar fairy tales and famous works in the performing arts, as well as Tatar writers, poets, and composers as symbolically important to Tatarstan. According to the results from the focus groups, regional identity is close to ethnic identity among young Tatars. In the variation in the balance between regional and Russian identities, the most frequently encountered during discussions was one in which self-assignment to a regional community was considered more significant than identity with Russia, although there were other variations as well. All of this requires further clarification as part of future, large-scale sociological research.

Keywords: discourse, ethnic identity, regional identity, Russian identity, Tatars, Tatarstan


Makarova G.I. Identichnosti tatar i russkikh v kontekste etnokul’turnoy politiki Rossiyskoy Federatsii i Respubliki Tatarstan [The Identities of Tatars and Russians in the Context of the Russian Federation’s and the Republic of Tatarstan’s Ethno-Cultural Politics]. Kazan: Kazan University Publ., 2010. 248 p

About the author: Guzel I. Makarova – Doctor of Science (Sociology), Associate Professor, Advanced Research Fellow, Department of Ethnological Research, Sh.Marjani Institute of History of the Tatarstan Academy of Sciences (Entrance 5, Kremlin, Kazan 420014, Russian Federation);

Received 06.06.2016   Accepted for publication 03.10.2016

Published Online 17.11.2017