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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The Circassian national project can be considered the first experimental attempt at modern nation-building in the Northern Caucasus. Its origins can be traced all the way back to the Caucasian war (1817-1964), when territories inhabited by Circassians became part of the Russian Empire. A new round of Circassian national mobilization took place during the collapse of the USSR, when Kabardians, Adyghes, Circassians and Shapsugs began uniting under the Circassian flag and putting forth demands for resolving the so called “Circassian issue”. The Circassian national movement was able to bring these demands to the international community’s attention right before and during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Circassians’ national mobilization is currently ensured by various means, the most effective of which being the use of media technologies, due to their effectiveness when it comes to nation building among territorially divided peoples. Based on the results of the study conducted by the author, this article meticulously examines and analyzes contemporary media technologies used by ethnical entrepreneurs from Russia and the diaspora to construct an “imaginary Circassian community”, using as an example a certain infamous case which lead to widespread Circassian national mobilization in 2017, namely – when a well-known activist named Ruslan Gvashev was arrested and prosecuted. This event caused widespread public outcry among Circassians living both in Russia and abroad, while sparking a large-scale and lengthy media campaign encompassing Russia, Turkey, the United States, as well as various European and Middle-Eastern countries. The national mobilization triggered by Gvashev’s case was in fact so vast that a few Russian experts considered it reasonable to declare the start of a “Tulip revolution”, while certain Western experts noticed the key markers of a “color revolution”. Meanwhile, two epicenters of the Circassian national movement clearly manifested themselves – the North Caucasus and Turkey, which would take action either in a coordinated fashion or independently from one another. Ruslan Gvashev’s case also revealed the fact that the current Circassian national mobilization is repeating the 1990’s era mobilization, utilizing the same mechanisms and even the same activists.
national mobilization, media technologies, nationalism, Circassians, Adygs, the North Caucasus.
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