Constructing Grievance

Constructing Grievance: Ethnic Nationalism in Russia's Republics

Elise Giuliano
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition: 1
Published by: Cornell University Press
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    Constructing Grievance
    Book Description:

    Demands for national independence among ethnic minorities around the world suggest the power of nationalism. Contemporary nationalist movements can quickly attract fervent followings, but they can just as rapidly lose support. In Constructing Grievance, Elise Giuliano asks why people with ethnic identities throw their support behind nationalism in some cases but remain quiescent in others. Popular support for nationalism, Giuliano contends, is often fleeting. It develops as part of the process of political mobilization-a process that itself transforms the meaning of ethnic identity. She compares sixteen ethnic republics of the Russian Federation, where nationalist mobilization varied widely during the early 1990s despite a common Soviet inheritance. Drawing on field research in the republic of Tatarstan, socioeconomic statistical data, and a comparative discourse analysis of local newspapers, Giuliano argues that people respond to nationalist leaders after developing a group grievance. Ethnic grievances, however, are not simply present or absent among a given population based on societal conditions. Instead, they develop out of the interaction between people's lived experiences and the specific messages that nationalist entrepreneurs put forward concerning ethnic group disadvantage. In Russia, Giuliano shows, ethnic grievances developed rapidly in certain republics in the late Soviet era when messages articulated by nationalist leaders about ethnic inequality in local labor markets resonated with people's experience of growing job insecurity in a contracting economy. In other republics, however, where nationalist leaders focused on articulating other issues, such as cultural and language problems facing the ethnic group, group grievances failed to develop, and popular support for nationalism stalled. People with ethnic identities, Giuliano concludes, do not form political interest groups primed to support ethnic politicians and movements for national secession.

    eISBN: 978-0-8014-6072-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Preface
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    (pp. 1-28)

    In the late 1980s ethnonationalist movements were springing up all over Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. Initiated by intellectuals but carried out by mass publics through protest cycles, popular referenda, and elections for independence, nationalist movements sought to gain political control of their region away from rulers they considered foreign. As the states of Eastern Europe suddenly dislodged communist rule and union republics in the Soviet Union unexpectedly acquired independent statehood, the federal integrity of the new Russian state balanced precariously. Home to sixteen autonomous republics (ARs) that were ranked just below the union republics (URs) in the USSR’s...

    (pp. 29-59)

    The dramatic intervention by Mikhail Gorbachev into an ideologically, politically, and economically stagnant Soviet Union in the late 1980s triggered unanticipated political developments that weakened the system it was meant to rescue. The policies of glasnost and perestroika permitted people and organizations to articulate ideas challenging prevailing ideologies and the status quo itself. Risk-taking newspaper editors began to publish articles about ethnic relations and editorials written by intellectuals with minority ethnic identities. With press reports of popular protests taking place among Crimean Tatars, Armenians in Karabakh, and Latvians and Estonians, awareness of ethnic issues began to develop in Russia’s republics.¹...

  8. 3 DOES STRUCTURE MATTER? Local Labor Markets and Social Mobility
    (pp. 60-90)

    Did adverse economic conditions at the end of the Soviet era in Russia’s republics inspire people to support republican nationalism? This chapter addresses this question by analyzing socioeconomic stratification among ethnic groups. This theme has received wide attention in the general literature on ethnic politics, perhaps most famously in Gellner’s model in which Ruritanian workers seek national independence from Megalomania after being shut out of desirable jobs in the core state.¹ In this chapter I investigate social mobility and the labor market position of Russians and titulars in Russia’s sixteen republics to understand how these variables relate to the emergence...

    (pp. 91-125)

    This chapter provides an in-depth study of the rise of mass support for nationalism by focusing on one of Russia’s most nationalist republics—Tatarstan. This case is particularly revealing because people in Tatarstan supported the opposition nationalist movement to a greater degree than in other republics. The case also suggests, however, the ephemeral nature of nationalism: popular support for nationalism in Tatarstan peaked in 1991 and early 1992 and then began to decline. By the mid-1990s, the republican government led by former communist Mintimir Shaimiev had consolidated power. Tatar nationalist organizations faded into political irrelevance as much of the public...

  10. 5 NATIONALISM IN A SOCIALIST COMPANY TOWN: Tatars, Russians, and the Kamskii Automobile Works in Naberezhnye Chelny
    (pp. 126-144)

    In 1969, Naberezhnye Chelny, named Brezhnev at that time, was a small rural town located in northeast Tatarstan with a population of thirty-eight thousand and no infrastructural links to the rest of the country. Soviet central planners, in a less than rational moment, decided this was the ideal spot to construct the USSR’s newest and largest truck and automobile production complex. So construction began on the all-union enterprise, Kamskii Automobile Works, or KamAZ. Technical training schools appeared, and enormous housing complexes were thrown up, each with its own stores, schools, and child-care centers. Young workers poured into the city, persuaded...

    (pp. 145-184)

    It is generally thought that people support programs of nationalist renewal as a result of long-standing cultural, political, or economic grievances. If people maintain a grievance—a feeling of having been wronged—over the course of many years, that grievance, it is assumed, will be deeply felt and therefore likely to shape political attitudes and motivate political action. Though people may have grievances that persist over time, grievances may also develop rapidly, as a result of the actions and discourse of political entrepreneurs. Nationalist entrepreneurs in particular play a key role in constructing grievances swiftly as part of a contingent...

  12. 7 SECESSIONISM FROM THE BOTTOM UP: Democratization, Nationalism, and Local Accountability in Russia
    (pp. 185-205)

    This chapter addresses secessionist campaigns mounted by Russia’s republics vis-à-vis Moscow in the early 1990s. It asks why some republics made strong demands on Moscow for increased autonomy, sovereignty, or even independence while other republics did not. In contrast to existing explanations that see republican wealth as the motivating force behind secession, the approach developed here brings politics back into the study of secessionism. I argue that disintegration of the Soviet Union’s centralized, single-party system produced a contest for political control inside Russia’s republics and that that contest determined the strength of separatist demands the republics made on Moscow. With...

  13. 8 LESSONS FROM RUSSIA: A Critical View of the Relationship between Ethnic Elite Claims and Mass Interests
    (pp. 206-214)

    It is by now conventional wisdom in social science that ethnic identity is a contingent, socially constructed phenomenon rather than a primordial one. As the hegemony of primordialist explanations of ethnic mobilization fades, rational choice-based as well as other approaches to the formation of ethnicity and its politicization have appeared. However, while recognizing the constructedness of ethnicity, many of these accounts retain essentialist assumptions concerning the preferences of ethnic groups. In an essentialist understanding of ethnic politics, ethnic group members have fixed, uniform preferences that support a nationalist program. These preferences, furthermore, are conflicting and opposing across ethnic groups. Thus...

  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 215-228)
  15. Index
    (pp. 229-234)