Russians in Latvia: Ethnic Identity and Ethnopolitical Change

Aasland, Aadne (1994) Russians in Latvia: Ethnic Identity and Ethnopolitical Change. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Over a very short period conditions tor the Russian population in Latvia have changed dramatically. From being representatives of the majority nationality enjoying a special status in the Soviet multinational empire, Russians have become a national minority in a Latvian nation-state. The thesis focuses on the implications of these changes for the ethnic identity of Russians living in Latvia; the changes are analysed through the perspective of ethnopolitical developments in the country'. An examination of relevant western and Latvian scholarly literature on ethnicity and nationality issues provides the theoretical framework within which to discuss the Russian question in Latvia. Conceptual issues are clarified and various explanations for the phenomenon of ethnicity are considered. The relationship between ethnicity and the political sphere is also examined. After this theoretical introduction, the thesis looks at Latvia's Russian question in a historical context. The history of the Russian population in Latvia is examined, with special attention being paid to the role of historians in the formation of public opinion on historical issues as well as to relevant topics from the period of Latvia independence in the interwar period. Soviet nationalities policies in general and in Latvia in particular are then discussed, and the role of the Russian nationality in the Soviet empire is analysed. The responsibility for nationalities policies in Latvia was gradually transferred from the centre in Moscow to Latvia itself. The thesis therefore analyses Latvian nationalities policies in the period from 1988 to 1993. The main part of the thesis, however, focuses more directly on the Russian population itself. A major survey "Russians in Latvia 1992" was conducted by the author in cooperation with Latvian sociologists, and it is used extensively for the analysis of Russians' perceptions of their own role in Latvia. Apart from data on the general socio-economic and demographical characteristics of the Russian population, the survey provides information about Russians' evaluation of a wide range of issues, including political attitudes, interethnic relations, links with the historical motherland, Russia, citizenship, language and many more. The thesis contains an analysis of Russians' organisational structures and political activities in Latvia, and the experiences and opinions concerning the formation of a Russian party in the country are also discussed. The main findings of the thesis are finally put into a theoretical framework. Both the intensity and content of Russian ethnic identity are here accounted for. Similarly, the question of the prospects for integration and/or assimilation of the Russian population is crucial m the final analysis. Also, in line with the ethnopolitical perspective, the thesis looks at various models of conflict resolution in ethnically divided societies and assesses their applicability to Latvia.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Baltic studies, Astronomy, Ethnic studies, East European studies
Date of Award: 1994
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1994-74721
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 27 Sep 2019 16:59
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2019 16:59

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