Structures, Political Cultures and Social Practices
Edited By Christian Giordano and Nicolas Hayoz
Informality as a “Weapon of the Weak”? Public Representation of Tatar Youth Movements in Kazan, Russia
Informality as a “Weapon of the Weak”? Public Representation through Informal Practices of Tatar Ethnocultural Youth Movements in Kazan, Russia1
During field work, social anthropologists usually try to expand their network of informants by means of the so-called “snowball system”, which means that respondents give the anthropologist access to their own personal network in order to recruit interview partners for their research. Often, informants are keen to mobilize their most prestigious contacts to gain status with the researcher. Thus, when a member of a Tatar youth movement in Kazan suggested that he could arrange for me meetings with the delegate of the mufti of Tatarstan, the President of the World Congress of the Tatars, the personal adviser of the President of Tatarstan or the Director of the Tatar theatre, I first took this discourse as a strategy of impression management in face of the ignorant foreign researcher. With time, however, it became clear that such horizontal and vertical personal networks hinted at by the young Tatar mentioned above are a key resource for the strategies for public action and performance of Tatar ethnonational youth movements and youth scenes. Thus, in the analysis of the role of youth in the nation-building processes in postsocialist societies it is important to be aware that the study of official youth policy and actions of institutionalized youth organizations does not, on its own, give an adequate image.
In Russia, contradictory trends regarding the construction...
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