Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Three New Books Highlight Problems Volga Tatars Face

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 3 – Three new books, part of Kazan’s state program for “the preservation of the national identity of the Tatar people,” call attention to three problems the Tatars of the Middle Volga now face: their dispersal across Russia, the disappearance of Tatar villages in Tatarstan itself, and assimilationist pressures in other Turkic language countries.

            The first, “Regions of Compact Settlement of Tatars in the Russian Federation” (in Russian and Tatar) contains a bibliography of some 600 books and articles about the far-flung Tatar nation, most of whose representatives live beyond the borders of Tatarstan (nazaccent.ru/content/22794-v-akademii-nauk-tatarstana-prezentovali-tri.html).

            The second, “Disappearing Population Points of the Republic of Tatarstan” (also in boht languages) provides detailed information on the almost 1,000 Tatar villages that have become depopulated and have disappeared over the last 90 years, an investigation that the authors say is going to be replicated by other national groups in the Russian Federation.

            And the third, is an illustrated handbook, “The Tatars of Kazakhstan,” which is described as “the first universal encyclopedic publication” about the 250,000 Volga Tatars who live in Kazakhstan and about their efforts over more than a century to preserve their culture in the face of assimilation pressures from ethnic Russians and Turkic-speaking Kazakhs.

            Unfortunately, these books have been issued in relatively small print runs, but one can hope that they will become available electronically because they appear as a group to provide a comprehensive description of the problems the Volga Tatars face, a nation whose special role is simultaneously reinforced and undercut by their dispersal and modernization.

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