Constructing Grievance

Constructing Grievance

by Elise Giuliano
     
 

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Demands for national independence among ethnic minorities around the world suggest the power of nationalism. Contemporary nationalist movements can quickly attract fervent followings, but they can just as rapidly lose support. In Constructing Grievance, Elise Giuliano asks why people with ethnic identities throw their support behind nationalism in some

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Overview

Demands for national independence among ethnic minorities around the world suggest the power of nationalism. Contemporary nationalist movements can quickly attract fervent followings, but they can just as rapidly lose support. In Constructing Grievance, Elise Giuliano asks why people with ethnic identities throw their support behind nationalism in some cases but remain quiescent in others. Popular support for nationalism, Giuliano contends, is often fleeting. It develops as part of the process of political mobilization—a process that itself transforms the meaning of ethnic identity. She compares sixteen ethnic republics of the Russian Federation, where nationalist mobilization varied widely during the early 1990s despite a common Soviet inheritance. Drawing on field research in the republic of Tatarstan, socioeconomic statistical data, and a comparative discourse analysis of local newspapers, Giuliano argues that people respond to nationalist leaders after developing a group grievance. Ethnic grievances, however, are not simply present or absent among a given population based on societal conditions. Instead, they develop out of the interaction between people's lived experiences and the specific messages that nationalist entrepreneurs put forward concerning ethnic group disadvantage.

In Russia, Giuliano shows, ethnic grievances developed rapidly in certain republics in the late Soviet era when messages articulated by nationalist leaders about ethnic inequality in local labor markets resonated with people's experience of growing job insecurity in a contracting economy. In other republics, however, where nationalist leaders focused on articulating other issues, such as cultural and language problems facing the ethnic group, group grievances failed to develop, and popular support for nationalism stalled. People with ethnic identities, Giuliano concludes, do not form political interest groups primed to support ethnic politicians and movements for national secession.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Giuliano rejects explanations for the varying strength of nationalism [in the Russian Federation] based on culture, demography, history, or institutional structure. Instead she points to the role of 'ethnic entrepreneurs' who use nationalism as an electoral tool. . . . She sees nationalism as contingent and fragile, not an unstoppable tide as is commonly supposed. This book is clearly written and will be of interest to scholars of nationalism and of Russian politics."—Choice (November 2011)

"With intrepidness and insight, Elise Giuliano examines one of the great unasked questions in Eurasian studies: Why did a region of seemingly endless potential ethnic conflicts produce only a handful of actual ones? As Giuliano shows, ethnic minorities in Russia were easiest to sway in cases where elites put economic disadvantage in ethnonationalist frames. By taking mobilization and demobilization equally seriously, Constructing Grievance offers new ways of understanding Russia's multiethnic polity—as well as the hope that politics can be a solution to social discord as much as its cause."—Charles King, Georgetown University, author of Extreme Politics: Nationalism, Violence, and the End of Eastern Europe

"In Constructing Grievance, Elise Giuliano argues that in order to comprehend nationalist politics we must understand how publics come to join in nationalist mobilization. This requires that publics see their own grievances associated with their own daily lived experiences in terms of victimhood that can be remedied by transferring sovereignty from a central state to their region. Importantly, Giuliano argues that these grievances are often not rooted in unambiguous facts and, thus, ethnic entrepreneurs must creatively construct a narrative of victimization by selectively rewriting recent history."—Philip G. Roeder, University of California, San Diego

"Constructing Grievance makes an important contribution to the study of nationalist mobilization in the communist and postcommunist world. Elise Giuliano stresses the importance of how economic grievances are framed to foster support for nationalism."—Dmitry Primus Gorenburg, Harvard University

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801447457
Publisher:
Cornell University Press
Publication date:
03/17/2011
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.30(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Elise Giuliano is Visiting Assistant Professor of International Relations and Comparative Politics at Barnard College and Harriman Institute, Columbia University.

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