Call For Papers: War and State among Ethnic Minorities in Russia 45/2024


Call for papers Issue 45/2024

 War and State among Ethnic Minorities in Russia

Guest Editors:

Zbigniew Szmyt,  Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań

Stephan Dudek, University of Tartu

Despite the fact that research in and on Russia has been flourishing in the last 30 years, it is also clear that the mechanisms of power, images of the state and intricacies of hierarchies within the Russian state territory are poorly understood. The present war initiated by Russia leaves many commentators with the question: What place does this war have in the lives of the people in Russia and what makes it possible or even comprehensible to them? In anthropological perspective most precisely: how is everyday life affected by the workings of the state and how the state is understood and lived? 

Questions of political power and subordination, economic vulnerability, social discontent, colonisation and its aftermath, strategies of resistance, negotiation and cooperation in the face of various forms of domination are at the centre of anthropological reflection today. There is a growing need for broader reflection on the relationship between state power and citizenship, economic subjugation and strategies of resistance and accommodation, as well as conditions and processes of identification, including questions of intersectionality and various forms of social hierarchies.

This special issue is an invitation to reflect anthropologically on these interconnections, but with a particular ethnographic and historical focus. We propose to look at the interactions between ethnic minorities in Russia and the Russian state during wartime in imperial, Soviet, as well as post-Soviet context. Our focus is on shifts and transformations that state strategies and ideologies produce on the micro level. In particular, we would like to explore the entanglements of privatised violence with that of state institutions, as well as different forms of domination in the political and economic sphere. 

At least since the invasion of Ukraine in 2014, Russia's imperial goals have become enmeshed with nationalist rhetoric and neoliberal practices. In the process of internal colonisation (Alexander Etkind's term), the periphery provides human resources for the military subjugation of the neighbouring state. The clear over-representation of Dagestanians, Buryats and Tuvans among those killed in Ukraine in 2022 raises the question of a crisis of collaborative nationalism (Uradin Bulag's term). At the same time, we are confronted with a new, inclusive model of the Russian national community, based on a common commitment to the struggle against “enemy states” - Ukraine and its Western allies. The participation of ethnic minorities in the war, which has been compared by propaganda to the Second World War, can be seen as an opportunity to participate again in state-building warfare, to reunite the national community and to overcome the inter-ethnic hierarchies and inequalities that had hitherto accumulated. In this context, going on combat duty became an important form of demonstrating loyalty to the state, but also a source of prestige and correspondingly high incomes in the impoverished periphery.

We seek texts that address more general anthropological issues by addressing one or more of the following questions:

  1. How have Russian and Soviet wartime conflicts, past and present, affected ethnic minorities in the [po-Russian Federation?
  2. How has warfare historically affected relations between ethnic minorities and the Russian/Soviet state?
  3. How do various forms of collective memory of participation in wars affect ethnic minorities? 
  4. Is the ethnic diversity of the Russian state resonant in the perceptions and narratives of various sides of the conflict? 
  5. How can we reflect on the intersectionality of different forms of social inequality: ethnic, economic, gender, spatial, educational or cultural in the context of war?
  6. What forms and means of resistance to war and mobilisation have been developed inside and outside Russia among ethnic minorities?
  7. How have mobilisation, conscription and war in Ukraine transformed cross-border mobility with neighbouring countries?
  8. What image of the state emerges from observing the practices and narratives of ethnic minorities in the context of war?

Information for Contributors:

Ethnologia Polona is a peer-reviewed English-language journal focused on cultural/social anthropology and ethnology, but open to other disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. It is published by the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences.

Here link to our latest issue: Ethnographies of Protests under guest editorship of Jan Kubik

The journal's aim and scope are to serve as a platform for discussion concerning critical issues emerging in anthropology/ethnology in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond. The journal stays close to the empirical while remaining attentive to current theoretical debates in the humanities and social sciences.

Expressions of interest (300-word abstracts) should be sent by email to before 01.06.2023.

Full articles (between 6000 to 8000 words, including bibliography) should be submitted through the Ethnologia Polona submission system. See the Author’s Guidelines. The deadline for submission of full articles is 15.01.2024. The issue will be published in 2024. For informal inquiries and questions concerning potential contributions please contact us at