Space for all? European perspectives on minority languages and identity
  • ISSN 1878-9714
  • E-ISSN: 1878-9722
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This study analyzes the long-term reasons why Udmurt occupies a restricted linguistic space in the post-Soviet state – the low status of Udmurt, due to Soviet language and other policies; urbanization; population shifts; myths and stereotypes about Udmurts; making Russian compulsory after 1938 – and the consequences of this for the fate of the Udmurt language today (relatively few native speakers). The central argument is that Udmurts have not overcome the Stalinist legacy, which led to the reversal of Lenin’s ‘affirmative action’ policy on non-Russian languages. This stems from the failure of the elites in the Udmurt Republic to pursue an ethnic mobilization strategy to promote the Udmurt language in contemporary Russia. Drawing upon language planning and ethnic policy elsewhere in Russia (Tatarstan) and in the UK (Wales), this article outlines ways to raise the status of Udmurt without generating inter-ethnic conflict, thereby creating a ‘space for all’.


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