Seminar on Inter-ethnic relations in contemporary Russia

Date: 17.03.2020 at 12-14

Place: Lecture room 5026, Linna building, Kalevantie 5


12.00 Opening words: Prof. Harri Melin

12.15 Prof. Mikhail Chernysh: Social factors of inter-ethnic tensions in contemporary Russia

13.15 Prof. Harri Melin: Classes and ethnicity

13.30 Researcher Vadim Romashov: Comments

13.45 Discussion

Lecture abstract

The rapidly changing ethnic composition of European societies is likely to put ethnic issues high on the agenda of modern sociology. Hence the necessity to hold a public discussion of their causes and possible impact. The problem of inter-ethnic tension has been a highly relevant topic in the sociological agenda in Russia. On the one hand, Russia is by formal criteria a mono-ethnic state with more than 80% claiming to be ethnic Russians. On the other hand, it is in fact a multi-ethnic state with some ethnic groups playing a key role in defining local economies and politics. In addition, the country is hosting many migrants from the post-Soviet republics. The number of external migrants in Russia is close to 11 million which far exceeds the scale of the recent middle eastern migration into the European Union. The rate of internal migration is also high, given the level of regional economic and social differentiation. In the last two decades the Russian society occasionally experienced ethnic tension turning into civil strife or assuming violent forms. Thus, the Russian case provides an interesting context to explore the causes of inter-ethnic problems and to analyse more general issues related to them.

The lecture will focus on the following issues:

  1. What is the state of the current debate on the causes of ethnic tension and ethnic conflicts in Russia and beyond?
  2. What are the global and local trends that have a potential to instigate ethnic tensions and conflicts?
  3. How can the state and other institutions involuntarily affect inter-ethnic relations?
  4. Can identity politics diminish the level of ethnic tensions?
  5. How did the Russian conflicts unfold and what were their causes?
  6. Is there a chance to hold the ethnic “demons” under control? What are the possible solutions to the existing inter-ethnic problems in Russia and beyond?

Mikhail Chernysh is Doctor of Sociology, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the head of the Sector of Social Mobility at the Institute of Sociology, Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences.