Accepted Paper:

"What's the difference what's my nation or religion?"  

Author:

Iwona Kaliszewska (University of Warsaw)

Paper short abstract:

Basing on my fieldwork in Dagestan I will show how ethnically and (to lesser extent) confessionally heterogeneous local communities in Dagestan respond to attacks of religious or ethnic movements of various groups.

Paper long abstract:

Dagestan is Russia's most ethnically heterogeneous republic, which over 30 ethnic groups, most of them Muslim, some Christian and Jewish.

"What's the difference what's my nation or religion? Do you want to "reduce me" to nationality? We all live here peacefully"- I kept on hearing from Dagestanis, usually referring to their neighbours from different ethnic groups. It was not uncommon for my respondents (all of whom lived in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods in the city) not to know the ethnic affiliation of the neighbour or friend. They were usually aware of each other's religious background, distinguishing between Muslim and non Muslim (here Russian and Mountain Jews) however exchange of ritual food or gifts as well as participation in each other celebrations was common.

I will show how ethnically and (to lesser extent) confessionally heterogeneous local communities respond to rhetorical attacks of religious and ethnic movements of various groups.

I argue that despite religious and nationalist movements trying to disturb inter-communal co-operation in pursuit of purity by, for example, attacking "non purely Muslim practices" or usage of Russian language, neighbourhood communities were able to work-out strategies of resistance: the more passive like "doing what we have done but not speaking about it" and more active like achieving a consensus on double language standard - used for example during weddings (also inter-ethnic) or local festivals (e.g. Lak culture festival) in order not to offend people from other ethnic groups with whom they can communicate only in Russian.

Panel W018
Mutuality and difference in multireligious local communities: the politics of neighbourliness