Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Ethnographic Museum Exhibit Encouraging Russians to Think about Their Membership in Local Sub-Groups of Russian Nation

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Sept. 8 – Vladimir Putin has encouraged Russians to think of themselves as members of a common and united nation, but a new roving exhibit put together by St. Petersburg’s Russian Ethnographic Museum is causing many to focus on their membership not in that commonality but in local sub-groups of the Russian ethnos.

            The exhibit features pictures and stories about 11 such sub-groups; and Tatyana Zimina, a specialist on Russian identity at the Russian Academy of Music says that the greatest interest has been in those groups that have promoted themselves and in regions from which people in various cities come (

             People in St. Petersburg often arrived in the northern capital from the Tver region where there are several sub-groups of the Russian nation, she points out; and having visited the exhibit, they are now far more aware than they were of the characteristics that set them apart from other Russians.

             Given how much the Kremlin wants people to think of Russians as a single group, it is at a minimum surprising that one of the leading ethnographic centers in the country is promoting an alternative view – and perhaps even more surprising that the Kremlin hasn’t intervened to stop this.


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