Volga Tatars: Continuing Resilience in the Age of Uncertainty

  • Renat ShaykhutdinovEmail author
Living reference work entry

Latest version View entry history


The purpose of this chapter is to trace social and political processes of Volga, or Kazan, Tatars – the largest ethnic minority in the Russian Federation and one of the largest stateless ethnonational groups of Europe and the world. In doing so, some of the major developments concerning Tatar history, traditions, and their interaction with the Russian state will be surveyed. In addition to some of the key scholarship on Tatars published in English, several Russian- and Tatar-language sources will be employed. Following the introductory remarks, the origins of the people and their name will be examined alongside their early history. Competition with the Russian lands and the consequences of the loss of statehood will then be discussed. These include strategies of resilience, especially efforts at reforming culture, tradition, and the way of thinking. Post-communist struggle for greater self-governance, achievement of the power-sharing treaty with Moscow, and the post-Yeltsin policies will also be investigated. Brief assessment of the prospect of Tatar survival will be offered in the concluding section.


Volga (Kazan) Tatars Russian Federation Tatarstan Idel-Ural Volga-Urals region 


  1. Ämirxanov/Amirkhanov, Raşat/Rashat (1997) Fatíx Ämirxan/Fatikh Amirkhan: ‘Vse prezhnee vo mne prevratilos’ v pepel (Fatíx Ämirxan/Fatikh Amirkhan: ‘Everything that was inside me has turned into ashes’). Ğasırlar Awazı – Ekho Vekov (Voice/Echo of Centuries)Google Scholar
  2. Beissinger MR (2002) Nationalist mobilization and the collapse of the soviet state. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge/New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bilz-Leonhardt M (2008) Deconstructing the myth of the Tatar yoke. Centr Asian Surv 27(1):33–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Conquest R (1968) The great terror: Stalin’s purge of the thirties. The Macmillan Company, New York/TorontoGoogle Scholar
  5. Daulet S (2003) Kazan and Moscow: five centuries of crippling coexistence under Russian imperialism (1552–2002). Kase Press, Hudson/New HampshireGoogle Scholar
  6. Davis H, Hammond P, Nizamova L (2000) Media, language policy and cultural change in Tatarstan: historic vs. pragmatic claims to nationhood. Nations and Nationalism 6(2):203–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Etatar.Ru (2011) Kai Eilers: ‘Tatary Znaiut, Chego Khotiat’ (Kai Ehlers: ‘Tatars know what they want’). Etatar.Ru.
  8. Faller HM (2002) Repossessing Kazan as a form of nation-building in Tatarstan, Russia. J Muslim Minor Aff 22(1):81–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Faller HM (2011) Nation, language, Islam: Tatarstan’s sovereignty movement. Central European University Press, BudapestCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gagnon A-G (2014) Minority nations in the age of uncertainty: New paths to national emancipation and empowerment. University of Toronto Press, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  11. Giuliano E (2000) Who determines the self in the politics of self-determination? Identity and preference formation in Tatarstan’s nationalist mobilization. Comp Polit 32(3):295–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Goble PA (2016a) Crimea annexation restored ethnic Russian share of country’s population to 1989 level, Tishkov says. Window on Eurasia – New Series.
  13. Goble PA (2016b) A warning to the Kremlin: Its non-Russians likely to be the Irish of the 21st century. Window on Eurasia – New Series.
  14. Goble PA (2018a) Tatarstan now under attack and probability it will disappear is ‘extremely high,’ Gilyazov says. Window on Eurasia – New Series.
  15. Goble PA (2018b) Yeltsin was just as much an imperialist as Putin is but lacked resources to act broadly on his views, Eidman says. Window on Eurasia – New Series.
  16. Goble PA (2018c) ‘Muslim Martin Luther’ jailed by both Soviets and British recalled in Kazan. Window on Eurasia – New Series.
  17. Gorenburg DP (2003) Minority ethnic mobilization in the Russian Federation. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grimes BF (1996) Ethnologue. Ethnologue.
  19. Grousset R (1970) The empire of the steppes: a history of Central Asia. Rutgers University Press, New BrunswickGoogle Scholar
  20. Iskhakov DM (1992) Neformal’nye ob”edineniia v sovremennom tatarskom obshchestve (Informal associations/organizations in contemporary Tatar society). In: Iskhakov DM (ed) Sovremennye natsional’nye protsessy v Respublike Tatarstan (Contemporary national processes in the Republic of Tatarstan). Rossiiskaia Akademiia Nauk – Kazanskii Nauchnyi Tsentr (The Russian Academy of Sciences – Kazan Science Center), KazanGoogle Scholar
  21. Iskhakov DM, Sagitova LV, Izmailov IL (2005) The Tatar national movement of the 1980s–90s. Anthropol Archeol Eurasia 43(3):11–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Keenan R (2013) Tatarstan: the battle over Islam in Russia’s heartland. World Policy J 30:70–79CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Khurmatullin A (2010) Tatarstan: Islam entwined with nationalism. In: Dannreuther R, March L (eds) Russia and Islam: state, society and radicalism. Routledge, London/New York, pp 103–121Google Scholar
  24. Kondrashov S (2000) Nationalism and the drive for sovereignty in Tatarstan, 1988–92: origins and development. St. Martin’s Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  25. Kopanski AB (1998) Burden of the Third Rome: the threat of Russian Orthodox fundamentalism and Muslim Eurasia. Islam and Christian–Muslim Relations 9(2):193–216. Scholar
  26. Lewis MP (2009) ‘Statistial Summaries’, ethnologue: languages of the world, 16th edn. SIL International.
  27. Malashenko A, Yarlykapov A (2009) Radicalisation of Russia’s Muslim community. MICROCON Policy Working Paper 9. Brighton: MICROCONGoogle Scholar
  28. Malik H (1994) Tatarstan’s treaty with Russia: autonomy or independence. J South Asian Middle East Stud 18:1–36Google Scholar
  29. Massimo C (2015) Do minorities have a place in Putin’s Russia? Wilson Q.
  30. McAuley M (1997) Russia’s politics of uncertainty. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK/New YorkGoogle Scholar
  31. Möxämmätşin (Mukhametshin) RM (2009) Osnovnye etapy vozvrashcheniia islama v obshchestvenno-politicheskuiu zhizn’ v volgo-ural’skom regione (Main phases of Islam’s return in the socio-political life in the Volga-Urals region). In: Iskhakov DM (ed) Konfessional’nyi faktor v razvitii tatar: kontseptual’nye issledovaniia (Confessional factor in the development of Tatars: conceptual research). Institut istorii im. Sh. Marjani AN RT; Rossiiskii Islamskii Universitet (Sh. Marjani Institute of History of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan; Russian Islamic University), KazanGoogle Scholar
  32. Nurutdinova AN (2016) The newspaper discourse dynamics of religious extremism in the Tatarstan Republic. J Org Cult Commun Confl 20(2):33–38Google Scholar
  33. RFE/RL (2012) Rafail Xäkimov: ‘Atışlar artında islam eşläre tügel, ä kriminal’ (Rafail Xäkimov/Rafael Khakimov: ‘Criminality is behind the shootings, not Islam-related affairs’). Azatlıq Radiosı—Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
  34. Rorlich A-A (1986) The Volga Tatars: a profile in national resilience. Hoover Institution Press, StanfordGoogle Scholar
  35. Säetov/Saetov İ/I (2017) Kommentarii. Tataro-mongol’skoe EGE. Kak v Rossii stroiat etnonatsional’noe gosudarstvo (Commentary: The Tatar-Mongolian EGE (Unifed State Exam). How an ethnonational state is being built in Russia). Novaya Gazeta, № 103, September 17.
  36. Shaykhutdinov R (2018) The terrorist attacks in the Volga region, 2012–13: hegemonic narratives and everyday understandings of (in)security. Centr Asian Surv 37(1):50–67. RoutledgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Tanrısever OF (2001) The impact of the 1994 Russian-Tatar power-sharing treaty on the post-soviet Tatar national identity. Slovo 13(1):43–60Google Scholar
  38. Toft MD (2003) The geography of ethnic violence: identity, interests, and the indivisibility of territory. Princeton University Press, Princeton/OxfordGoogle Scholar
  39. Xäyretdinov (Khairutdinov) A (2018) Musa Bigiyev govorit, chto nuzhno reformirovat’ ne islam, a nashe ponimanie islama (Musa Bigiyev says that it is not Islam that needs to be reformed, but our understanding of Islam). BIZNES Online (BUSINESS Online).

Copyright information

© The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Florida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Joseph Rudolph
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceTowson UniversityTowsonUSA

Personalised recommendations