From February to October 1992, Valery Tishkov served as Minister of Nationalities of the government of Russia. This book is his account of ethnicity, nationalism, and conflict in the territory of the former Soviet Union, focusing particularly on the Russian federation, and drawing on his personal political experience and inside knowledge of major events. He analyzes the demographic, ecological, and cultural backgrounds of ethnic tensions and conflict, and carefully measures grassroots ethnic attitudes and cultural interactions, which do not always correspond to intellectual and political statements and claims.
Chapter 4: Territories, Resources, and Power
Previous chapters have discussed how ethnicity operates both in general and in the specific case of the Soviet and post-Soviet context. We have seen how it was socially engineered and institutionalized, and how it found its main doctrinal and practical expression in various forms of ethno-politics. I do not deny the significance of what may be called ‘objective realities’ or ‘fundamental factors’ – by which I mean both social conditions such as basic human resources and distribution of material wealth, as well as the equally important access to power to achieve material and social objectives. The materialistic tradition of presupposing that economic and social factors have primacy in societal life is also relevant in studying ethnicity. A ...