Rebounding Identities: The Politics of Identity in Russia and Ukraine

In This Review

Rebounding Identities: The Politics of Identity in Russia and Ukraine

By Dominique Arel and Blair A. Ruble (eds.)
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2006
384 pp. $55.00

If not the culmination, then this book is a creditable sample of the work done in the many post-Soviet-society study groups sponsored by the Kennan Institute over the last ten years -- this one focused on multicultural legacies. Identity, of course, has become the all-purpose drop cloth for vastly disparate subjects. This volume, too, enfolds a random range of topics, from state policy toward religion to popular anti-Chinese sentiments, from migration effects to language revival. What holds the volume together and gives the collection integrity are the editors' introduction and conclusion. The first uses David Laitin's analytic disaggregation of identity to situate each author's contribution. The second groups the issues raised into four clusters: the state's efforts to control identity dynamics; the role of language in renegotiating identity; the growing divergence in the way state, society, and identity interact in Russia and Ukraine; and the potential tension between the Russian regime's centralizing preference and the society's underlying diversity.

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