As some scholars argue, the Soviet regime institutionalized ethnic and national identities to put those into knowable categories, and ultimately communities started embracing and mobilizing around them. Ethnic and national identities were used as building blocks for construction of nation-states within the Soviet Union. Thirty years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, policies towards ethnic and national communities in the successor states differ to a great extent. Looking at the individual country cases and building a comparative regional and cross-regional perspective, the research aims at identifying areas which can benefit from the adaptation of existing models for minority protection as well as issues that can provoke rethinking and/or further development of the current European frameworks.

Since its establishment in 1996, the ECMI has been very active in the postSoviet space. After successful projects in such countries as Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine (some of those projects are still ongoing), in 2019 the ECMI’s team intends to additionally turn its attention towards the Central Asian countries, that is Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. In terms of research, the ECMI’s team is willing to focus primarily upon such topics of regional relevance as: (1) border regions, (2) national, ethnic and linguistic minorities, (3) nation building and identity formation, (5) language policies and language rights, (5) the patterns of political mobilization of ethnic communities. In spite of its manifold particularities, Central Asian countries share numerous common features (the most obvious ones are post-Soviet and post-colonial legacies). As a consequence, the ECMI’s methodological approach to the region will be a comparative one, aiming at identifying common threads as well as divergences.

In 2019, the ECMI- team will continue the comparison between the patters of the Russian and Soviet colonization policies and those employed by the Western states focusing on the respective impact on ethnic identity formation. The multi-layered comparative analysis will cover Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan and will address intertwined subjects as: (1) the dynamics of ethnonational identity formation in the region; (2) the patterns of political mobilization of ethnic communities in the region; (3) the access to natural resources and ethnic tensions in the region.

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