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Crimean Tatars return home: Identity and cultural revival

Aydingun, Ismail
Aydıngün, Ayşegül
Crimean Tatars were deported by Stalin from Crimea to Central Asia in 1944. This paper focuses on the Crimean Tatars' cultural revival, beginning in 1989 following their mass return to their homeland. We analyse the interaction of the Crimean Tatars with other ethnic groups both in Central Asia during the deportation years and in Crimea following their return to the homeland. In addition, the impact of interaction with other ethnic groups on the Crimean Tatars' ethnic identity and culture is examined. A constructionist approach is adopted, with special attention given to the role of interaction with different cultures and state policies in shaping ethnic and cultural identities. Emphasising the necessity of distinguishing ethnic and national identities from cultural identity, the authors argue that hybridity, as one of the new concepts aiming to challenge static and essentialist approaches to ethnicity and culture, is useful in explaining cultural content rather than the notion of the ethnic boundary. The paper is based on fieldwork carried out in Crimea in 2001 and 2002, during which 100 in-depth interviews were conducted with Crimean Tatars, Ukrains and Russians.