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"Region-building": the specifics of the russian regional identity policy V. A. Achkasov, A. I. Abalian, N. V. Poliakova

By: Achkasov, V. AContributor(s): Abalian, A. I | Poliakova, N. VMaterial type: ArticleArticleOther title: "Строительство регионов": специфика российской региональной политики идентичности [Parallel title]Subject(s): регионы | региональная идентичность | политика идентичности | нациестроительство | политические элитыGenre/Form: статьи в журналахOnline resources: Click here to access online In: Вестник Томского государственного университета № 451. С. 89-95Abstract: This article is devoted to the study of the regional identity policy in post-Soviet Russia based on the concept of “region-building” by the Norwegian political scientist Iver Neumann. Traditional concepts explained the existence of a region mainly in terms of cultural, linguistic, socio-economic, and other similarities, emphasizing the isolation of the region with the existing distribution of political forces and clearly established leadership. However, along with this understanding of region models, one question has always re-mained unrevealed, namely, which factors are “external” and which are “internal” in the formation and functioning of regional structures if, according to B. Anderson, a nation appears as an “open” and “closed” (sovereign) community simultaneously, the re-gion in its turn is an “open” community. Thus, according to Neumann’s concept, regions can also be regarded as “imaginary com-munities”, but their identities come usually as a result of deliberate political actors’ efforts both “from within the region” and “from the outside”, or as a reaction and outcome of the emergence and spread of local nationalisms. The authors of the article analyze the similarities and differences in the regional identity policy in the 1990s and in modern Russia, primarily on the following grounds: which social forces or groups control the attribution of regional identities in modern Russia, on what basis these identities are built, how these ideas are proliferated in the regional society, what potential for conflict or coexistence they contain. At the same time, it is obvious for the authors that the specifics of the regional identity policy are due to the peculiarities of the region status as an inte-gral part of Russia. The activity of regional political elites in the formation and implementation of identity policy is inevitably asso-ciated with the need to solve the problem of combining regional identity with national identity. Therefore, a regional identity policy can be aimed at the formation of two types of identity: exclusive and inclusive. Exclusive identity involves the formation of ideas about the regional “we-community”, which is opposed to the national community. Inclusive identity, on the contrary, is aimed at harmonizing ideas about regional and national communities, the region is considered as an organic part of a larger community. As a result, the authors conclude that, in a transforming Russian society, regional identities are extremely mobile and depend on the na-ture of emerging social relations, political alliances and their goals. However, the formation of a regional identity policy in Russia has been largely influenced by the type of the relationship between the federal center and the regions, as well as the activities of the central authorities (or their absence) in the formation of a nationwide civic identity.
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This article is devoted to the study of the regional identity policy in post-Soviet Russia based on the concept of “region-building” by the Norwegian political scientist Iver Neumann. Traditional concepts explained the existence of a region mainly in terms of cultural, linguistic, socio-economic, and other similarities, emphasizing the isolation of the region with the existing distribution of political forces and clearly established leadership. However, along with this understanding of region models, one question has always re-mained unrevealed, namely, which factors are “external” and which are “internal” in the formation and functioning of regional structures if, according to B. Anderson, a nation appears as an “open” and “closed” (sovereign) community simultaneously, the re-gion in its turn is an “open” community. Thus, according to Neumann’s concept, regions can also be regarded as “imaginary com-munities”, but their identities come usually as a result of deliberate political actors’ efforts both “from within the region” and “from the outside”, or as a reaction and outcome of the emergence and spread of local nationalisms. The authors of the article analyze the similarities and differences in the regional identity policy in the 1990s and in modern Russia, primarily on the following grounds: which social forces or groups control the attribution of regional identities in modern Russia, on what basis these identities are built, how these ideas are proliferated in the regional society, what potential for conflict or coexistence they contain. At the same time, it is obvious for the authors that the specifics of the regional identity policy are due to the peculiarities of the region status as an inte-gral part of Russia. The activity of regional political elites in the formation and implementation of identity policy is inevitably asso-ciated with the need to solve the problem of combining regional identity with national identity. Therefore, a regional identity policy can be aimed at the formation of two types of identity: exclusive and inclusive. Exclusive identity involves the formation of ideas about the regional “we-community”, which is opposed to the national community. Inclusive identity, on the contrary, is aimed at harmonizing ideas about regional and national communities, the region is considered as an organic part of a larger community. As a result, the authors conclude that, in a transforming Russian society, regional identities are extremely mobile and depend on the na-ture of emerging social relations, political alliances and their goals. However, the formation of a regional identity policy in Russia has been largely influenced by the type of the relationship between the federal center and the regions, as well as the activities of the central authorities (or their absence) in the formation of a nationwide civic identity.

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