“Russia Beyond the Russians”
The producers of the Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremony boasted that Russia is home to 180 nationalities; over 100 of them still retain their indigenous languages. In this course, we consider the rich tapestry of ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups living in the Russian Federation today. We shall see that some groups, like the Veps, have been largely acculturated by the Russians, but have left an indelible mark on such aspects of Russian culture as folktales and traditional embroidery patterns. Other groups have been significantly diminished by the uniformity-seeking policies of the Russian state, first under the Tsars, then under the Soviets, and most recently through President Vladimir Putin’s quest for the “national idea” aimed to unify the entire country. Many groups still carry the collective memories of the atrocities that were committed against them in the past and most such groups seek to gain a recognition of their ethnic and cultural uniqueness, increased autonomy, or even full independence, often taking very different approaches ranging from the peaceful Circassian movement to the much more violent Chechen resistance. Along with the history of Russia and its various ethno-linguistic groups, we will consider such elements of contemporary Russian culture as music, cinema, cuisine, ethnic jokes, and more.
1. Russia Beyond the Russians: An Introduction
What is “ethnicity”? Russians and non-Russians
Language-less ethnicities: Yezidis, Kazaks, Pomors
The birth of Russia and the Finnic peoples: assimilation of “middle Finns”, Veps culture and their influences, Middle Volga Finnic peoples, “Buranovo Grannies” (Beatles’ “Let It Be”, video, Banderas’ “Bessame Mucho”, video), the Russian-Finnish borderlands
Other peoples: Yukaghir, Ket, and others
2. The East Slavs: Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians
Ukraine and the Jews: “Strange Bedfellows” Emerge in Ukraine Protests
3. “Crimea and Punishment”
“Crimea and Punishment”: Comments on the Media Coverage of the Recent Events in Crimea
Was Crimea “always Russian”?
4. “Prisoner of the Caucasus”
Peoples, genes, languages of the North Caucasus
Northeast Caucasus: Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan and their peoples
5. “Two Hundred Years Together”?: Russia’s non-territorial ethnicities, Gypsies & Jews
Why are Russian Jews not Russian?
The birth of Esperanto
Are there Sephardic Jews in Russia?
Re-Branding Soviet-Jewish Nostalgia—Jewish Culture That Never Was
In conclusion: The “Russian World”—What And Where Is It?