This panel explores institutional and non-institutional practices used by Finno-Ugric minority groups to present and represent their ethnic identity in Soviet and post-Soviet Russia. These representations are juxtaposed with institutions and practices that are provided for them by the state.
Today's Russia is on the one hand heir to Soviet ethnopolitics, while on the other hand Russian nationalities policies are in continuous change. One of the recent developments include the invention of the category 'small-numbered indigenous people'. Finno-Ugric minorities should be looked at in the context of current transformations and general trends of building Russian national identity. This panel focuses on interaction, cooperation and tensions between Finno-Ugric minorities and the state in the process of nation building in Soviet and post-Soviet settings. Panel participants are invited to discuss various institutional and non-institutional forms of nation building that support or question the ethnic identity of minority groups in particular socio-political environments. The research materials analysed may include, for example, census data, laws and documents of nationalities policies, museum exhibitions, fieldwork recordings from national or regional festivals that can be regarded as manifestations of ethnic revival. We propose also to explore the ways in which ideas about ethnicity, formulated and institutionalised during the Soviet period, are (re)circulated, transmitted and adapted to new settings. Which ideologies back the process of conscious nation building? What notions of ethnicity and the elements of traditional culture are selected to represent a particular group? How are these elements staged within the framework of regional festivals and how are they presented in museum exhibitions dedicated to minority groups? What are the strategies and ideologies of ethnic activists and of the state in controlling and manipulating the processes of nation building?