post-imperial nationalism
November 13, 2006 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone recommend reputable academic sources on the repression of local national culture in Macedonia, Armenia, Georgia, and Moldova during the era of Communist rule by dominant 'imperial' nations Serbia and Russia respectively, and the resurgence of nationalism in these countries after the fall of Communism and breakup of these empires? Thanks!

Also, similar sources on former Soviet Central Asian states would be appreciated.
posted by thirteenkiller to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm really only familiar with the Russian/Soviet case, but even here the literature is huge. A classis is Robert Conquest, The Nation Killers: The Soviet Deportation of Nationalities. Conquest is a Cold Warrior, but he turns out to have been right about most things Soviet. One proviso. In the Soviet case, the CPSU made a serious effort to *promote* national cultures in the USSR. The Soviet Union was a federation of nations, and each nation needed a "culture." In some cases, these national cultures had to be created (especially in Central Asia). A good treatment is Terry Martin, The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939. I'm sure there are studies on more recent (e.g. post-Soviet) events, but I'm a historian...
posted by MarshallPoe at 1:40 PM on November 13, 2006

I don't quite understand the inclusion of Macedonia in your list. Macedonia was made a Yugoslav republic only in 1945, and as such the codification of a Macedonian literary language and an independant Macedonian national identity began in earnest. One of Tito's purported goals in recognizing Macedonia was to offset Serbian nationalist claims to the area, which was claimed as well by Bulgaria. Macedonia is one of the few places in former Yugoslavia where you can still see portraits of Tito hanging on the all in many public places, such as bars and shops.

In Moldova, a lot of the repressiveness came in the form of reclassifying the Romanian language (spoken by a majority of Moldovans, but not as much in urban areas) as a different language called "Moldovan" using the Cyrillic alphabet, and replacing hundreds of Romanian, latin based words annualy with slavic based neologisms. Googling Moldavian language sites (ie. "Romanian language in Moldavia") will probably get you on the road (I use "Moldavian" because it is a perfectly good term - Moldovan is itself a neologism, promoted by the editors of the NY Times.)
posted by zaelic at 2:23 PM on November 13, 2006

I'll take a look at some Armenian sources, but I'd have to go with anything by Ron Suny...
posted by k8t at 3:52 PM on November 13, 2006

Oh also, do some searches on nationalities policy. I'll email you something I wrote in undergrad on nationalities policy in Armenia, the sources may be helpful.
posted by k8t at 3:53 PM on November 13, 2006

After the USSR: ethnicity, nationalism and politics in the Commonwealth of Independent States by Anatoly M. Khazanov
Central Asia and the Caucasus after the Soviet Union by Mohiaddin Mesbahi
National identity and ethnicity in Russia and the new states of Eurasia by Roman Szporluk
The nationalities question in the post-Soviet states by Graham Smith
The Central Asian republics: fragments of empire magnets of wealth by Charles Undeland

The Macedonian conflict: ethnic nationalism in a transnational world by Loring M. Danforth (focuses on Greece rather than Serbia, but lots of good info)
posted by languagehat at 5:31 PM on November 13, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks everyone.
posted by thirteenkiller at 5:37 PM on November 13, 2006

Sorry, I forgot probably the best Central Asia book for your purposes:
Central Asia, 130 years of Russian dominance: a historical overview by Edward Allworth
posted by languagehat at 5:45 PM on November 13, 2006

Including Macedonia in that list presupposes the notion that Yugoslavia was nothing more than Greater Serbia, which is a very contentious position that many people who still identify as Yugoslavian would argue with you for days about.

The Baltic states would be more interesting in this context, particularly Estonia and Latvia.
posted by mikel at 7:43 PM on November 13, 2006

Response by poster: I didn't generate the list myself - it's one of the subgroups of Herbert Kitschelt's path dependency theory of communist successor parties. The four countries in question are ones that gained independence from a larger "empire" after the fall of communism and that had no serious tradition of civil society or political mobilization or clan organized society before the establishment of a communist government. Kitschelt argues that in these four countries the communist successor parties have been fairly successful because they alone have the infrastructure and practical experience needed to be politically effective in a lasting way, but, because of nationalist concerns, especially desires to (re-)assert local cultre and establish ties with western countries instead of the former communist hegemon, these countries tend to have fairly democratic political systems (within which the communist successor parties enjoy a fair amount of success).

My field is Mongolian politics, so I don't have in-depth knowledge of these other countries. I just need some good (widely accepted, hopefully) sources to either back up or challenge Kitschelt's characterization of this stuff.
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:22 PM on November 13, 2006

The Baltic states would be more interesting

You're telling the poster what she should be interested in? Sheesh. OK, let me join in: why are you asking about all these weird little countries anyway? Russia itself is much more interesting!

posted by languagehat at 6:00 AM on November 14, 2006

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