Lecture by Miroslava Hukelova on New Nationalism in Russia and post-communist Europe
On 2 September, Miroslava Hukelova, a senior researcher from Manchester University spoke about New Nationalism in Russia and post-communist Europe. Open lecture was organized in cooperation of MSSES and Center for Russian Studies, RANEPA.
The main focus of the talk was on the gradual changes developing in the field of nationalism in post-communist Europe. Miroslava examined the applicability of traditional theories of nationalism as well as the new developments in nationalism, redefining and shifting the balance between the majorities and the minorities, between the nations and the states. Much attention has been directed towards categories and labels. Practically all categories in nationalism are very subjective but at the same time prescriptive. Miroslava explained such definitions as nationalism, nation state, national identity, homeland, and ethnicity.
Nationalism in post-communist Europe can be categorized to classical or the 19th century nationalism, old nationalism and new nationalism which is contemporary nationalism. Also it was pointed out that there is clear division between old and new nationalism. Classical nationalism emerged at the beginning of 19 century where there were only 8 state nations: English, French, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Finish, Dutch and Russians. But the national movements and emergence of new nation states have resulted in fragmentation. Basically, classical nationalism was the result of breaking up of Empires. Ethnic groups wanted to become nations with the political, cultural and social demand. The case of Russia was slightly different. Few people said that the problem of Russia is that Russia became the empire before it became a nation and a state. Old nationalism emerges as a result of an answer to the political crisis and disintegration of old regime. At the end of communism it was very difficult to find a new direction for the nation, there was a lack of democratic politics, and there was no free Media. The changes of borders enhanced ethnic divisions, in some cases previous majority became a minority.
The fundamental and most prominent feature of the new nationalism are questions of what is a nation, the change in the relationship between majority and minority and new waves of migration from conflict affected areas which often bring migrants and asylum seekers from a very different cultural background. The traditional national state is actually changing, it is not a nation state that we had 50- 100 years ago, Democracy and open political space also influences greatly on modern states, and it is more difficult to sustain homogeneity. The recent migrant practice shows that that most migrants come from Muslim countries, they have different culture and traditions and it can be very difficult to assimilate in EU culture. And when EU was being trying to impose quotas to its member states this was met with resentment from all former communist states. Non-Christian migrants are associated with Islam and terrorism, most of the anti-migrants protests in Europe are automatically anti-Muslims.
New nationalism in Russia is also demonstrated with the anti-migration rhetoric. But Russia is opposed mostly to its internal migration from the Northern Caucuses and from its neighbors in Central Asian republics. Russian nationalism appears to be similar to that of other nation states in Europe and former empires i.e. Ottoman, British. The fear of the other and the need to define or protect the core nation is therefore acute – in Russia, in post-communist Central and Eastern Europe and also in the West.