Libmonster ID: UZ-1051

The problem of interethnic relations occupies a significant place in the scientific discourse of the Republic of Belarus. At the same time, it is hardly surprising that this discourse is burdened with the politicization of its participants. Most local scientists did not so much study the problem as a scientific one, but rather tried to realize their political preferences. Publications in scientific publications on this topic almost immediately from the moment it (the topic) appeared began to be perceived exclusively as evidence of ethnic loyalty or disloyalty of their authors, patriotism or hostility of their positions. The assessment and discussion of the scientific quality of their content in such conditions were of secondary importance. As a result, the level of knowledge about interethnic relations in the Republic of Belarus is extremely weak. In this situation, the appearance of S. A. Panarin's research is difficult to overestimate. If the research factual background, the validity of certain statements and conclusions of the author can be discussed, then there is no doubt about the significance of his research. It is worthy of the attention of specialists already because it is a truly scientific work on this problem. I would like to present some of my partly critical thoughts on this issue.

Speaking about the merits of S. A. Panarin's work, each of them can be safely preceded by the word "for the first time". Almost for the first time, the problem of interethnic relations in the Republic of Belarus was concretized in terms of conflict. For the first time, relations between Russians and Buryats were conceptualized in the context of various objective correlations supported by statistical data and the results of sociological research. For the first time, this topic appeared in scientific research in the form of a specific plot - forming subject - the sphere of education as one of the links of the social system, on the one hand, and as a subject of application, practical implementation of ethnic mentality (habitus), on the other. For the first time, scientific research has provided an opportunity to predict interethnic relations based on indicators of structural situations and objective processes.

The content-theoretical core of the research is formed by arguments about the ethno-social features of social mobility of Buryats in the conditions of economic modernization of the republic and urbanization. Specifically, the author focuses on their educational strategy or mechanism for ensuring expanded access to higher education, the political and economic consequences of this mechanism and, accordingly, the possibility of projecting them into the field of ethno-political relations, their ability to cause ethnic tension in the current situation.

In his analysis, the author clearly prefers the structuralist approach or structuralist determinism; subjectivity (ethnic) in it is dissolved in processes (spontaneous) and structures. In other words, the analysis is based on the assumption that the social unconscious is the main mechanism of ethnic activity, a framework for all possible manifestations of the conscious principle among Buryats and Russians. Therefore, it is no accident that the research paradigm is formed by the concept of "field of action of specific (ethno-social) processes". From the point of view of this field, the interests of the titular people and the places of condensation of the conflict potential are determined (in absentia).

Buryat educational strategy or, more precisely, a social strategy aimed at expanding access to higher education, and in the future - to a "clean" and well-paid environment.

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According to S. A. Panarin, it is initially explained by the low quality of their education in rural schools and is defined as a compensatory or protective behavior model. This strategy is supported by three conditions that together form a single mechanism: 1) mobilization of kinship and community ties in support of prospective students; 2) dominance of Buryats in the higher education system; 3) increased representation of Buryats in government, i.e. a kind of "roof". Moreover, the author emphasizes the spontaneous nature of the emergence and functioning of this mechanism. This is probably why the phenomenon of Buryats 'activity in obtaining higher education, on the one hand, and as a consequence their distribution in the local employment structure, on the other hand, still does not find its rational explanation and is presented in the public consciousness in the form of a "myth flattering ethnic pride", namely, as a traditional value for Buryats. By the way, this fact, which the author has justly pointed out, can be extended to say in general, if not about the mythical nature of the Buryat self-understanding, then, in any case, about the tendency to mythologize it, about the paradoxical neighborhood and cooperation of local science and modern mythology in the ideas about society and about science itself. This mechanism of social mobility of Buryats, according to S. A. Panarin, as an irrational element in the system of socio-economic relations of the republic, eventually generates such a phenomenon as disproportionate representation in the management system - the most significant and therefore the most sensitive segment of society. After all, it is here that all personnel events (appointments and displacements, turnover and perpetuity, compliance and inconsistency of certain persons with the position held) are always ambiguous and differ in their special politicization and mythologization, the ability to generate rumors and biased interpretations in society.

While it is absolutely impossible to suspect the author of any bias and of the intention to sow the seeds of conflict, in my opinion, the very logic of the approach, which encourages us to discover potential conflict where it has not been seen or searched for so far, is objectively conflict-causing. After all, in a sense, this study lays the "foundation" for further rationalization (both scientific and non-scientific) of problems in relations between two ethnic communities with the effect of their (problems) multiplication. As Pierre Bourdieu said, " scientific knowledge of political reality necessarily has political consequences." In this case, the political acuteness lies in the fact that the economic backwardness of the republic and the low standard of living of its citizens are explained by the author's specific behavior of Buryats, which is based on a survival strategy. By its theoretical action (research), S. A. Panarin logically "closes" the causal link between the public opinion of citizens (in the text there is a link to the results of sociological surveys) regarding the kinship-community principle of appointment to prestigious positions - this is the most vulnerable and acute point in relations between Russians and Buryats - and the depressed state of the republic's economy.

Further, S. A. Panarin, I think, also rightly warns that, like any myth, the idea of a traditional disposition to receive an education is a pleasant self-interpretation for Buryats. The myth actually encodes the established mechanism of social mobility, and the self-interpretation fed by it is doomed to be debunked. Ultimately, the very educational strategy that emerged in the Soviet state/society and adapted to its conditions and rules must undergo a change. There are two forces that must inevitably push the Buryats to do this: one is ethnopolitical in nature, the other is economic or market - based. Moreover, if the corrective action of market mechanisms is impersonal, objectively forced, then political interference in the current situation threatens to create ethno-political tension or confrontation in relations between ethnic communities. And here there is a possibility of different scenarios of this action for political intervention in the current situation.

The first scenario, which the author himself seems to adhere to, is an action to rationalize or rationalize the existing representative imbalances. This is like a surgical intervention in a pathological clinic: it is painful, but necessary; the result (standard state) it will certainly justify situational and time costs. It must be said that such an idea of the possibility/necessity of rationalizing adjustment, if it does not overestimate the charm and effectiveness of the rational, implicitly assumes ideal conditions: rational politicians, their rational behavior.-

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This is based on a responsible understanding of the sensitivity of the issue by all.

Another interpretation, or scenario, can be presented based on a lack of confidence in the power of the rational principle in our society, government and politics. The behavior of politicians is extremely situational and opportunistic, depending on their positions in the field of political struggle for power and influence (needless to say, there is no room for delicacy here). In my opinion, this study can give an impetus and a tool for ethno-political actions to interested politicians (it is not a fact that this will actually happen): at least as a self-justification, try to convince citizens that the unfavorable situation in the republic's economy is not due to the level of managerial competence of the government or uncovered cases of corruption among its members, a representative disproportionality. In this context, this study, regardless of the author's position and intentions, contains a provocative charge. Therefore, it is also an invitation to local experts to study both the situation and the study itself by S. A. Panarin.

The analysis of stabilization factors, namely spatial and related social mobility of Russians, the experience of settlement coexistence, and regional consciousness, contained in the study, is also sustained in the spirit of objectivism. It cannot be said that the subjective component of the interaction of ethnic counterparties, which has its own history, including the history of collective ideas about each other, in which there are also multidirectional factors, has generally remained out of the author's attention. But we can also say that not enough attention was paid to it. The researcher focuses mainly on comparing statistical data about counterparties, their structural positions, and describing their behavioral strategies. Meanwhile, in the problem of conflict in a binational republic, analyzing the perception of counterparties by each other in the current and historical perspective is of paramount importance. After all, the mass consciousness operates mostly with mythological personifications of itself and others, gives generalizing fictional, exaggerated human qualities. Ordinary people think and perceive reality in "pictures", not statistics (this is a tool for politicians). Through what images and emotional charges encoded in them (anger, fear, indifference, tolerance, etc.) do representatives of one ethnic group perceive themselves and representatives of another group? This is the very field that is cultivated and cultivated by elites (intellectuals), where the generalization and rationalization of prejudices as primary material takes place and collective (ethnic) identities are constructed.

In Buryatia, only in the 1990s, such political identifiers as "indigenous", "descendants of Genghis Khan", "colonizers", "occupiers", "assimilators", etc. appeared in the public consciousness. But there are also everyday prejudices and negative stereotypes, for example: they are arrogant, cunning, duplicitous, optional, thuggish, etc. (i.e., mass longing for order in a hidden form always has its own vector, orientation and readiness to join in "program" collective actions). Moreover, the situation is determined not just by the existence of such negative stereotypical representations about each other, but by the degree of their prevalence and rootedness, their historical change, and the degree of solidarity of members of the ethnic community in such stereotypical representations. It is one thing when all members of the community share negative ideas about their counterparties, and quite another when these ideas are localized only in some part of it and are critically perceived and condemned by another part of it. Therefore, it is logical to assume that the socio-cultural dialectic of the situation of binational existence, along with the analysis of ethno-social, ethno-demographic and other conditions, is the main content of the study of this topic.

The analysis of stabilization factors, despite the validity of most of the author's many statements, still, unlike other segments of the study, in my opinion, does not rely enough on specific analytical material. The author, as already mentioned, identified three factors. But what does it mean to identify stability factors? This means identifying such factors that, in the presence of a conflict-prone situation, neutralize the effect of opposite factors and prevent the situation from developing into an open interethnic conflict. Obviously, when setting such a task, it was necessary first of all to address the analysis of specific conflict situations that took place in the post-Soviet period in the Republic of Belarus.

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The correctness of such a research task as "correct assessment of the balance of conflictogenic/anti-conflictogenic factors"is also doubtful. After all, before evaluating such a balance, it is necessary to determine, in fact, the factors themselves. In other words, identify them (preferably with concrete examples), and not hypothetically assume them. Otherwise, the set of factors itself looks arbitrary, and the results of a theoretical analysis based on such a hypothetical basis are very relative. And what is the "balance of factors"? Here, apparently, the author had in mind the effect of neutralizing conflict factors. But in this case, it was necessary to identify specific forms and mechanisms of interaction of these factors, the mechanism of action for neutralization, and not to assess their balance.

Of course, ethno-social processes correlate in a certain way with conflict in society. But it is equally important what interpretation they receive in public opinion, in what form and mode they function in the public space, and ultimately to what extent these processes respond to ideological pressure (regulation). While paying attention to such a phenomenon as ethnic prejudice and stereotypes, the author does not seem to attach any fundamental importance to it. Meanwhile, it is in this subject area that a different direction of analytical work is contained, since stereotypes and biases are the soil on which mechanisms of a conflict-causing and anti-conflict nature operate. The probability that a conflict of initially insignificant (interpersonal, intergroup) scale will develop into a large-scale one, as well as that certain objective structural situations and processes in a binational society will become conflict-causing factors, depends precisely on the degree of prevalence (activity) of negative stereotypes or prejudices.

You can continue to list various research topics related to the problems of interethnic relations, but not covered in the study of S. A. Panarin. However, it would be absurd to put this as a reproach to the author. On the contrary, I would like to emphasize the heuristic value of this study and its stimulating effect on the research activity of local specialists. First of all, it indicates that the problem of relations between Russians and Buryats in the Republic of Belarus results in a wide range of diverse subjects and situations, structures and processes. In other words, it sets the model of a scientific approach that is adequate to the complexity of the phenomenon.


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S. D. BATOMUNKUYEV, S. A. PANARIN. ETHNOPOLITICAL SITUATION IN THE REPUBLIC OF BURYATIA / / BAIKAL SIBERIA: HOW STABILITY IS FORMED // Tashkent: Library of Uzbekistan (BIBLIO.UZ). Updated: 02.07.2024. URL: (date of access: 20.07.2024).

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