Beyond memory: The crimean tatars’ deportation and return by Greta Lynn Uehling (auth.)

By Greta Lynn Uehling (auth.)

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The themes presented in oral testimony are a citation from the past and evidence of motifs that have continuing meaning in the present. This is part of contemporary mythmaking in the sense that Barthes (1957) articulated. They are not divorced from, but integral to sociopolitical activity: stories about deportation helped to foster a stance of protest. The focus throughout is not only on what was told but how and when it was told. In chapter 4, “Family Practices,” the ways in which the narratives were circulated are therefore explored.

Uehling, Beyond memory © Greta Lynn Uehling 2004 26 Beyond Memory concept of “civilization” itself, is negatively constructed by describing its antithesis (Wolff 1994: 12–13). The irony is that while the Tatars were “barbarians” to Slavs, the Slavs were barbarian to the Europeans. This phenomenon has been described by Milica Baki´c-Hayden (1995) and Baki´c-Hayden and Robert Hayden (1992) in terms of a hierarchy of “nesting” orientalisms, “in which each region has the tendency to view cultures and religions to the south and east of it as more conservative or primitive” (1992: 4).

The discontent generating the nationalism would, theoretically, atrophy of its own accord (Slezkine 1994: 419). If tolerance for ethnic particularism and support of national categories was a fundamental part of the way that the Soviet Union was organized, why were the Crimean Tatars exiled? The most plausible answer is that the actual behavior of the Soviet state did not derive wholly from Marxist–Leninist nationality theory, as some Soviet writers claimed, but from the much more basic security and state-building interests of the Soviet Union (Wixman 1986; Suny 1993).

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