A number of studies and publications have recently appeared applying
the Western concept of multiculturalism to the Russian context.
However, even the most active advocates of multicultural policies, such
as Valery Tishkov and Leokadia Drobizheva have never tried to find out
how the main principles of multiculturalism, such as equal
opportunities for all citizens, social inclusion, and understanding and
respect of ethnic and cultural diversity would fit the Russia's social
and political reality and therefore what the conceptualization of the
‘Russian multiculturalism' might be.
In order to be developed and promoted, the ‘Russian multiculturalism' has to be supported by the authorities and the senior civil servants in the regions. The project presented aims to study attitudes and values of the regional civil servants from the Perm and Saratov regions on multiculturalism to define a number of social and political factors contributing to the possibility or, on the contrary, the impossibility of the adoption of multiculturalism in Russia.
The main objective of the project is to analyze how the concept of multiculturalism is perceived in Russia's regions by the regional authorities and whether a sort of the ‘Russian multiculturalism' might be seen as a tangible perspective for the ethno-cultural policy in Russia.
As the term ‘multiculturalism' has come into fashion in the West, Russian policy makers and authorities have also adverted to it, though quite occasionally, to mark the Russia's inclusion into the world civilization process. I have discovered a direct reference to multiculturalism in one of the important official Saratov regional government documents – the Programme for the Social and Ethno-Cultural Development of the Nationalities of the Saratov Region (1998-2001). It was indicated in the Programme, that ‘in Europe the concept of multiculturalism is being actively developed and advocated, as an acknowledgment of the cultural pluralism of the contemporary European society and as an equal access to, and a participation in the common cultural heritage'. The Programme also underlined, that ‘as a matter of fact, the concept of multiculturalism has always been and still remains a reality in Russia: all the nationalities have been utilizing all-Russian heritage as a mean of self-fulfillment and as a mean of getting access to the pan-civilization process'.
The Perm region has also appeared to be one of the most advanced regions of the Russian Federation with regard to working out nationality policy strategies for the regional population. Starting from the beginning of the 1990s, when the collapse of the Soviet Union was accompanied by the raise of the self-consciousness of the ethnic minority groups, the regional government has launched and successfully carried out a number of Programmes focused on the harmonious development of all the nationalities and ethnic groups resided in the region. Among them, The Programme for the Development of the Ethnic Cultures of the Peoples of the Kama Area for 1993-1995 and 1996-1998; The Programme for the Development and Harmonization of the Ethnic Relations of the Peoples of the Perm Region for 1999-2003 and 2004-2008 have to be mentioned. As in the case of the Saratov region, the latter Programme serves in Perm as the primary tool for managing ethnic diversity in one of the most polyethnic regions in the Russian Federation.
However, to declare the concept of multiculturalism as a well-fitted to the Russian context, it is not enough to say that all the nationalities in the country enjoy our multicultural past and present. After a more precise examination of the above mentioned Programme it has become clear that an analytical approach to multiculturalism as a concept is missing in there.
In order to develop a more relevant understanding of multiculturalism, in particular in Saratov and Perm regions, the concept of multiculturalism as a policy needs to be studied more carefully from the point of view of those who are responsible for the launching and implementation of the Programme and more broadly the ethno-cultural policy in the region – namely, from the point of view of the regional senior civil servants.
My intention is to conduct an expert-survey via interviewing the senior civil servants from the Perm and Saratov regions and to utilize a Grounded Theory approach in order to derive an attributes of the ‘Russian multiculturalism' as a concept. I am also planning to interview municipal authorities on the issue of multiculturalism, as they usually appear to serve as a ‘front-line employees' in resolving problems related to the accommodation of the ethnic minorities in Russia. The two particular regions have been chosen as the research sites by a number of reasons:
• both regions appeared to be rather diverse with more than 100 nationalities living together in each of them;
• the regional governments in the both regions have at least on the paper acknowledged the diverse ethnic nature of the Saratov and Perm regions and have made several attempts towards making all the nationalities feeling respected and sharing equal appreciation from the government and the residents of the region;
• the Perm region merged with the Komi-Permyak Autonomous Okrug in
December 2005 into a new unit of the Russian Federation – Permskiy Krai – which became even more ethnically diverse and will face an issue of the accommodation of the ethnic minorities in a more intensive manner;
• both regions have rather actively adopted a form of the Ethnic Cultural Autonomy for some ethnic groups and thus have made a particular attempt to meet the needs of the minority population in the regions.
A number of practice-oriented recommendations for the regional governments and policy makers in the sphere of ethno-cultural policy will be developed as a result of the project presented.
The plan of the fulfillment of the project would include the
two specific steps:
• a comparative analysis of the concept of multiculturalism in a cross-cultural perspective;
• in-depth expert interviews on multiculturalism with the regional senior civil servants and municipal servants in the Perm and Saratov regions.
Antonova Last modified July 30,