Staunton, July 19 – Tomsk State University has announced the program for an academic conference to be held in October 2014 on ethnic identity. Eleven speakers are addressing issues about Siberia, and the titles of their talks, a Siberian portal says, permits “speaking about a Siberian nation, a Siberian political elite and the concept of Siberian identity.
The editors of the Global Siberia site yesterday drew this conclusion on the basis of the titles of talks by scholars to that upcoming meeting in a section on “Siberian Regional Identity: History and the Present Day” (globalsib.com/20171/).
Seven of the talks focus on the emergence of Siberian regionalism in the 19th and early 20th centuries, including discussions of “The Siberian Nation in the Historical Conceptions of the 19th Century or How Peasants Became Siberians” and Siberian identity during World War I and the Russian Civil War.
But four scholars will address more contemporary themes. Yevgeny Lukov of Tomsk is to speak on “The Identification of the Siberian Political Elite” as shown by the Siberian Accord of the early 1990s, Mariana Fadeicheva of Ekaterinburg will discuss “The Development of Conglomerate Identities of Contemporary Regional Communities,” Marina Zhigunova of Omsk on “Regional Siberian Identity at the End of the 20th and Beginning of the 21st Centuries,” and Fedor Korandey of Tyumen on “The Map of Tyumen Oblast as a Symbol.”
In addition to this session, the October conference includes others where Siberian identity will be discussed including “Local and National Branding of Territory as a Means of Strengthening Regional Identity: The Historical Experience of Siberian Cities” and “A Discourse Analysis of the Theme of Shifting the Capital of Russia to Siberia in Internet Media.”
At a time when the Moscow media and following it the Western media suggest that Vladimir Putin’s ideological campaign has unified Russians as never before, it is important to recognize that within those Moscow counts as Russians are emerging or re-emerging alternate identities, regionally based but at least aspiring to be separate nations.
Siberians for reasons of geography and history are perhaps the furthest along this path, as this conference shows, but they are hardly alone, yet another trend in the life of people within the borders of the Russian Federation that deserves attention from a perspective other than that of Moscow.