This substantial and well-argued article casts light on the national symbols and denominations successively elaborated by North-Caucasian national groups in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Mountaineers ASSR in the early 1920s. The author successfully evokes the destiny of the ethnic name ‘Vainakh’ promoted by Soviet authorities for encouraging the merging of Chechen and Ingush peoples, till their respective choice of antinomic strategies in the 1990s; the successive and long confidential attempts at a mutual rapprochement between Balkars and Karachais by national intelligentsias, from the 1960s onwards; and the instrumentation by both and other north Caucasian peoples of the theme of the Alan national ancestry ― Alans being sometimes seen as Turks (notably by Balkars, Karachais, and Chechens), sometimes as Iranians (Ossetians, most notably), each group using a wide range of cultural symbols for parading its own “Alan nature.” Comparisons are sketched, notably with the Mordvinian case, though other ones ― beginning with that of the Middle-Volga Bulghars ― would perhaps have showed more productive. In all cases, the author astutely shows the decisiveness of the Russian factor and of the adoption of such or such strategy of independence from or integration to Russia (particularly obvious in the respective cases of the Chechens and of the Ingush).

The Redaction
CER: II-2.3-80