Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Russians Shouldn’t Fear Multiple Identities or the Emergence of Regional Ones, Funk Says

Paul Goble

Staunton, July 23 – Ethnic Russians should be sufficiently self-confident to avoid becoming alarmed by ever more people in the Russian Federation declaring multiple ethnic identities or announcing their identification with groups assumed to have been assimilated or that never existed before, according to Dmitry Funk.

            The director of the Moscow Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology argues that multiple and new or recovered identities are “normal” whenever people have the chance to make choices. Viewing either as a threat and thus trying to block it only politicizes the issue and makes it worse (

Funk who says he has multiple identities himself thus puts himself at odds with many in the Russian establishment and even more among Russian nationalists who believe that Russians can only be Russians, that any assimilation of non-Russians must be complete, and that no appearance of new identities or rise of old ones is to be tolerated.

Among the groups he mentions as being on the rise are Cossacks, Pomors, and Daghestanis. When he is challenged that no such nationality as Daghestani has ever existed, the top Russian academic ethnographer responds bluntly: “If someone decides that it does, then it does,” pointing out that 20,000 people declared that ethnic identity in the 2010 census.

Funk continues by noting that in preparation for the current census, his Institute prepared a list of some 2,000 possible responses to the question about nationality. Many of these will be grouped together in a smaller list, but the size of the list the ethnographers sent forward highlights just how diverse the population of the Russian Federation in fact is.

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