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Varshaver, E. (2022). “Stop beating the dead primordial horse”: actual agendas in the constructivist research of ethnicity. The Russian Sociological Review, 21(3), 31-58. [in Russian]
The article describes the current state of affairs in the contemporary constructivist research of ethnicity. While emerging within anthropology in the 1960’s under the influence of sociological constructivist theories, this approach has been developing in a dialogue with “primordialism” and “essentialism”, the ways of thinking which were, to a large degree, conceptualized by constructivists themselves. It has been, however, become clearer that this dialogue is no longer productive, and constructivists faced the necessity to re-establish the very agenda of the constructivist research of ethnicity. Two projects were undertaken in the 2000-2010’s, and are associated with the names of Andreas Wimmer and Kanchan Chandra. The theoretical languages created within these projects, however, were not optimal in terms of their descriptive power. The second part of the article describes a new research program as suggested by the author, within which an alternative theoretical language is proposed, and much attention is paid to the meanings of ethnic categories as well as the social consequences of these meanings. Descriptive and analytical capabilities of the language are demonstrated from two examples taken from the empirical research of the author. The closing part of the article describes the shortcomings of the approach created, as well as the directions for further developments.
“Stop beating the dead primordial horse”: actual agendas in the constructivist research of ethnicity