Routledge, the world's largest publishing house specializing in the humanities and social sciences, is part of the Taylor & Francis international publishing group, recently published “Russia's Regional Identities: The Power of the Provinces". The book describes the unique features of different Russian regions. NSU Sociologists Olga Echevskaya and Alla Anisimova authored the chapter on Siberia and its inhabitants.
“Russia's Regional Identities: The Power of the Provinces" was published as part of a special series, "Contemporary Russia and Eastern Europe". The idea for the book came after the conference "Centrifugal Forces: Russia's Regional Identities and Initiatives” that was organized by the University of Virginia (USA) in March 2015. During the conference, researchers from leading universities in the US, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, Sweden and Russia presented more than 30 reports on the history and current status of Russian regions. Twelve of these reports were included in the book as separate chapters. The main editor as Edith Clowes, a Professor at the University of Virginia (USA).
Olga Echevskaya explained,"The main idea of the book is to present Russia not as a model of the center (Moscow) and the periphery (all other regions), but as a diverse, socially heterogeneous and very lively picture of regional cultures, identities, and traditions.”
The book begins with a general review of the history and current state of research on the Russian regions, and then presents the results of studies conducted in the European part of Russia, the Urals, Siberia, Dagestan and Tatarstan. Academics from the Sociology Section at the NSU Department of Economics, Alla Anisimova and Olga Echevskaya, have studied the Siberian identity and socio-economic development of the Siberian region for more than 10 years. For work on the Siberian chapter, the Novosibirsk State University sociologists conducted interviews with residents of Omsk, Irkutsk, and Novosibirsk. As a result, they identified characteristics common to Siberians, as well as interesting differences between residents of different cities. For example, for residents of Irkutsk, the unifying value and basis for their regional identity is Lake Baikal; for people in Novosibirsk it was living in the heart of Siberia that is a metropolitan city; and Omsk residents identify themselves to a lesser extent with Siberia as a whole than people in Irkutsk or Novosibirsk. To them a local urban identity is more characteristic. The authors believe that perhaps this is because Omsk is located not only on the border of two regions, but also of two countries.
Alla Anisimova said,
The main conclusion of our study is that the Siberian identity is defined and formed through the activities of the individual, and it is by doing something in Siberia (and for Siberia) that a person begins to identify with this land and through it becomes a Siberian. The fact of birth in Siberia is of no fundamental importance here. A person can be born in Siberia and not think of himself as a Siberian at all and strive towards leaving Siberia. On the other hand, a person can be born outside Siberia, come here and become a Siberian by, for example, joining the environmental struggle or solving other significant problems in the region.
Other chapters in the book describe the patriotic rebranding of post-Soviet Pskov, the "regional revolution" in perestroika Sverdlovsk, the legacy of the GULAG in Tomsk, the aesthetic aspects of the Ural identity, the national identities in Tatarstan and Dagestan, and much more. Due to the expansive nature of the book the authors believe it will be interesting not only to specialists - historians, sociologists, ethnographers, anthropologists - but also to a wide range of readers who are interested in life in Russia and want to learn more about cultural diversity in the Russian regions.
The book is currently available in hardcover and Kindle editions. In the future there will be a paperback version.