The dissolution of the Soviet Union has provided scholars with tremendously rich material for the study of comparative nation building. Not since the decolonization of Africa in the 1960s have so many new states been established in one stroke in one region. The post-Soviet states, moreover, have all the necessary prerequisites for fruitful comparison: a number of similarities, but also significant differences in terms of size, culture, and recent history. State leaders in all of the new states are making strenuous efforts to imbue their population with a sense of unity and common nationhood. The citizens, they believe, ought to adhere to some common values and common allegiance towards the same state institutions and symbols. Often but not always this means that all inhabitants should also share the same culture. Strategies to foster this kind of common nationhood in a population are usually referred to as 'nation building'. After a decade of post-Soviet nation building certain patterns are emerging, and not always the most obvious ones. Some states seem to manage well against high odds, while others appear to be disintegrating or sinking slowly into oblivion. To a remarkable degree the former Soviet republics have chosen different models for their nation building. This book examines the preconditions for these endeavors, the goals the state leaders are aiming at, and the means they employ to reach them.
Preface -- Introduction -- Nation-Building and Social Integration Theory -- Discovering the Centuries-Old State Tradition -- Nation, State, and Religion -- Integration or Alienation? Russians in the Former Soviet Republics -- Nation-Building in Two Bicultural States: Latvia and Kazakhstan -- Two Romanias, Two Moldovas -- Belarus: The Dog That Didn’t Bark -- Ukraine: Building a Nation on Marginal Differences -- Russia: The Old Center Versus the New—Versus the Periphery -- Comparisons and Conclusions