Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Fate of Nations Depends on Their ‘Ethnic Capital,” Khakass Scholar Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 7 – The survival of nations within the Russian Federation and their ability to adapt to changing circumstances depends on how much “ethnic capital” they have, a term that includes languages, social and political institutions, and the reliable transmission of traditions from one generation to the next, Larisa Anzhiganova says.

                        In a new book, Ethnic Capital: Problems of Conceptualization (in Russian, Abakan, 2021), the professor of Khakass State University becomes the latest to draw on economics for modeling social phenomena like ethnicity and nationality, an approach that gives promise to become a significant field of research (tuva.asia/news/russia/9473-kruglyy-stol.html).

            According to her, “the collection of resources for the preservation and development of ethnoses constitutes ethnic capital, which supports the formation and development of the status of ethnicity as a subject” rather than an object of the policies of others. With regard to her own people, she argues that the heroic epic and national art are key parts of ethnic capital.

            At the Novosibirsk roundtable where Anzhiganova presented her book and her ideas, two other scholars, Chimiza Lamazhaa of Tuvin State University and Yury Popov of the Siberian Division of the Russian Academy of Sciences also made intriguing presentations that deserve mention.

            Lamazhaa described the ways in which the distribution of passports among the Tuvin people had the effect of breaking down pre-existing kinship groups, something that simultaneously contributed to nation building and to the weakening of tradition among that nation.

            And Popov described the ways in which resistance to globalization among various peoples in the Russian Federation is leading to a growth in neo-traditionalism, with members of various nations seeking to revive their traditions as the best means they have to resist being swamped by change and modernization.


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