National identity, nationalist discourse and the imagined nation in post-Soviet Russia

Blackburn, Matthew (2018) National identity, nationalist discourse and the imagined nation in post-Soviet Russia. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis attempts to account for post-Soviet Russian national identity and nationalism ‘from below’, employing the ‘thick descriptions’ of the nation reproduced by ordinary Russians across social and generational lines. It examines the current equilibrium in mainstream nationalist hegemonic discourse, shedding light on the vitality of the nation as an ‘imagined community’. In doing this, nationalism is viewed as a set of discursive formations that make claims about how or what the nation is or should be. A central aim in this research is to highlight what discursive constructions are shared or contested across a representative sample of the Russian population.
In order to offer a meaningful assessment of nationalist discourse, this research employs ethnographic fieldwork driven by a grounded theory approach. With fifteen months of fieldwork in three Russian cities, this permitted room for exploration and siginificant redirection of the research focus. This helped reveal the interconnections between certain common, foundational elements of national identity and the structure of a dominant nationalist discourse. Previous research has often focused on the challenges of Russian nation-building given the complicated heritage bestowed by the Romanov and Soviet empires. This thesis identifies certain historical and cultural factors vital to the shaping of Russian national identity today. It also identifies a current hegemonic nationalist discourse and unpacks how it is relevant to the majority. This dominant discourse is built on certain myths and versions of normality, much of which takes the late Soviet as ‘normal’ and the wild nineties as ‘abnormal’.
The thesis also explores how the above is contested. What is argued is that, at the current moment, the challenge of anti-hegemonic nationalist discourses is, for many people, neutralised by the appeal of a particular geopolitical vision. This research outlines how visions of the nation are weaved into commonly shared notions of identity and underlines how the current status quo is held together.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: national identity, post-soviet, Russian nationalism, nationalism 'from below', ethnographic fieldwork, normality, myths, political legitimacy, civic-ethnic nationalism, Homo Sovieticus, geopolitical identity, the constituent 'Other', citizenship, nationality, patriotism, social contract.
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DK Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JZ International relations
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Central and East European Studies
Supervisor's Name: Vladimir, Dr. Unkovski-Korica and Geoffrey, Prof. Swain
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Dr. Matthew Blackburn
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-30590
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2018 07:50
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2022 15:42
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.30590

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