This collection of articles published in the cadre of the Russian South Subprogramme “Analysis and Modelling of Geopolitical, Social and Economical Processes in a Poly-Ethnic Macro-Region” is basically a compilation of contributions presented at the congress “Peace for the North Caucasus through Language, Education, and Culture” and of public readings homonymous with the book organised by the Russian Public Chamber’s Tolerance and Freedom of Conscience Commission at Piatigorsk (October, 2007). The authors range from scholars to public personalities (up to clerics), and they tackle questions of state administration, social-economic and political development, civic identity, and ethno-religious diversity. The papers are grouped under five general headings: The Stabilisation of Social Relations and Achievement of National Concord in the South of Russia; The Population of the North Caucasus Region in Migration: Intercultural and Ethno-Political Processes; The Exploitation of the Economic Resources of the Russian South; The Civil Society and the Political Process; The Russian Identity and Civic Consolidation in the South of Russia, with an introduction by the editor, V. A. Tishkov, the Director of the Institute of Ethnography and Anthropology of the Academy of Sciences of Russia.
Among issues considered in the first section are: the “dialogue of cultures as means to overcome the gap between the possible and the real in Southern Russia” (an initiative coming from the archbishop Theophan of Stavropol); the chief options of peace and stability in North Caucasian lands (which include, according to the author, Iu. Davydov, “poly-cultural education” and “real civil society”); issues of national policy as linked to those of educational culture; the religious factor in Russia’s policies towards Dagestan; the contemporary geopolitics of the Caucasus; the North Caucasian perspective of Moscow’s line on constructing a multinational society (encompassing the regional experience and the consequences of the transitional period, the potential of tension and the character of problems in the field of interethnic and interreligious relations, the long-term assessment of the situation, and the necessity at programming the state policy in the area); the definition of the determinants of Russian political course in the North Caucasus (presupposing the symptoms of a new crisis in the ethnic conscience provoked by “unnoticed and unlearned lessons of the 1990s” symbolised by the Russo-Chechen clashes in Kondopoga as a serious challenge to the ethno-political strategy of Russia in the area, or rather, as the writer, Kh. G. Tkhagapsoev, puts it, “the absence of a strategy as such”).
The second section is dedicated to ethno-social transformations in Dagestan caused by migration and the policies of Russia in the North Caucasus on the turning of the millennium as seen by locals. The article devoted to contemporary migration constants among the Russian population of the republics refers to the process of acquisition of sovereignty that took roots in the late 1980s and early 1990s, stressing the causes of social-economical and ethno-political nature (the remigration to the republics of a considerable number of representatives of “title ethnic groups”, changing of the existing balance; the general absence of programmes of diminution of the reflux of Russian-speakers; the activities of local ethnic entities and media; the difficulty for Slavs to achieve high level education in the republics; a blatant ethnocentrism in the composition of cadres; the inexistence of a regional policy taking in consideration the interests of the Slavic population and of a dialogue between the Russians’ public organisations and power structures).
The third section unites themes such as the realisation of developmental projects in the Mineral Waters (Mineral’nye Vody) zone; the interrelation of economical dynamics and administrative reforms in the North Caucasus; and more generally the Russian South in the coordinates of globalisation and regionalisation. The next section regroups the subjects of interaction of so-called “Highland” ideologies (gorskie ideologii, with their stress put on the revival of ancestral ethics) and the interests of the Federation in the North Caucasus, risks and successes of current administrative-territorial reform in Dagestan, the implementation of civic unity and interethnic harmony in urban milieu, the formation and functioning of party system in Karachay-Cherkessia, and the policy in the sphere of information as a clause of social-economical modernisation of the region. The last portion of the book focuses on the regional modelling of civic identity, the progress of institutionalised theological education as an element of its formation, the necessity of an integration programme combining ethnic plurality and civic solidarity, and the crystallisation of a common sense of belonging as a support to securing stability in the North Caucasus.