Working Paper 165

Imperial Formations and Ethnic Diversity: institutions, practices, and longue durée illustrated by the example of Russia

Dittmar Schorkowitz

Abteilung ‚Resilienz und Transformation in Eurasien’

Jahr der Veröffentlichung


Working Paper 165

In the present essay I will examine the complex relations between imperial formations and ethnic diversity, illustrated by the example of Russia. The focus will be on state institutions and practices of rule of longue durée that may be typical of the tension-laden relationship between ethnic minorities and multinational states, and thus of immediate relevance for the present as well. The essay begins with a brief review of recent debates on the imperial turn and Russia’s ‘postcolonial’ heritage. Then the “particularistic arrangements of rule” identified by Adeeb Khalid with regard to Soviet Central Asia will be discussed in some detail, using the example of the eastern Siberian Buryats and the Kalmyks of southern Russia. It will become apparent that the imperial formation of institutions is characterised by historical continuity. In the concluding remarks, I will suggest some new perspectives with regard to a more comprehensive and comparative approach.

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