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The Ethnic Conflict Research Digest

1998, Vol. 1 No. 1 .


New States, New Politics: Building the Post-Soviet Nations
Edited by Ian Bremmer & Ray Taras.

(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).
65.00; ISBN 0-521-57101-4.
Pb.: 22.95; ISBN 0-521-57799-3.


Within the four years of the volume's first publication, the diverse geographical and political space that is still referred to as "the former Soviet Union" has been evolving continuously and rather swiftly along the path of nation-building. The authors who contributed to the new edition of "New States, New Politics" faced a most challenging task of balancing theoretical analysis and empirical test in examining topics too often treated in a largely instrumentalist and "practical" way with a rather tangible post-Sovietologist air of respectful agnosticism so far as theoretical generalisations are concerned. Like the earlier book, the 1997 edition presents a genuine attempt to comprehend the complex processes of state-building and role of national and ethnic mobilisation in the light of the existing nationalism and identity theories, which appear to be an important analytical tool throughout the volume. Perhaps the main contribution the book makes to this field is the in-depth analysis of the processes of power transition in the Russian Federation and major adjacent states, which, as many chapters exemplify, it is no longer correct to call "newly-independent". It is obviously one of the most interesting qualitative developments the volume addresses. Especially systematic and detailed are case studies of the situation in the former autonomies of the Russian Federation, a chapter on Kazakhstan and on Belarus. As in any edited volume the quality of research and comprehensiveness of sources' coverage is variable, but all chapters strike a combination of covering a wide range of issues and fitting together neatly. The conclusion by Ray Taras unifies the chapters and gives a very profound, if a bit too monumental, synthesis with a particular emphasis on the role of ethnicity in the Post-Soviet political space.


Anton Ivanov, Russian Academy of Sciences



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