Sunday, July 23, 2023

Tatar who Emigrated to France Uses Cartoons to Tell How She Became More Tatar as a Result

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 21 – Earlier this year, the Horizontal Russia 7x7 portal launched a project on “the non-Russian world” in which non-Russians have used various means to tell about their experiences and how they have made them more or less attached to the nation of their birth. The latest offering is especially striking.

            Entitled “How the Tatar Girl Rezeda Came to Recognize Her Lack of Similarity to Russians,” her offering consists of a series of seven cartoon illustrations with accompanying text that show how this process occurred (

            Below are the texts accompanying these drawings:

·       I was born and grew up in Tatarstan. As children, my brother and I spoke a mixture of Tatar and Russia which infuriated our parents. They tried to teach us to speak pure Tatar.

·       As a pupil, I began to speak Russian more often because I read a lot and there were more interesting books in Russian than in Tatar, for example, Harry Potter


At university, Tatars sometimes spoke Tatar. Russian-speaking students invariably intervened and told us to speak Russian even if they weren’t taking part in the conversations. At times this was offensive.

·       My brother told me that because of his name, he had difficulties finding an apartment in St. Petersburg. But to me Russians, thinking that they were giving me a compliment, said that I didn’t look like a native Tatar.


I began thinking about my identity after I moved to France. There, few know about Tatarstan: they think it is one of the countries of the former USSR. In the French language, there is no word for non-ethnic Russian; there is only russe which is close to russky. I am uncomfortable calling myself russe.

·       Longing for my native culture, I became more interested in it” and focused on stories in Tatar.

·       I like telling the French about the Tatars.  

The use of such cartoons is a very serious matter because it helps those who encounter them understand how identity develops and how efforts to suppress or ignore it often play the largest roles in promoting it.

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