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NatPress: Reference About Ethnonym “Circassian” Caused Public Interest

posted by eagle on June, 2010 as CIRCASSIA ADIGA

Reference about ethnonym "Circassian” caused public interest 

24 June 2010 – 10:09 pm – NatPress 

On the Circassian Internet-sites they actively discuss the opinion letter of the Institute of ethnology and anthropology of the Russian academy of sciences concerned the ethnonym "Circassian”. That document appeared on May, 25th 2010 being signed by the chief department on Caucasus of that institute professor Sergey Arutiunov. The main conclusion of the opinion letter is the following:

” Modern researches prove that the ethnic identity and the basic layer of the traditional culture of Shapsugs, Adygs, Circassians and Kabardians are common. It testifies to that it is possible to consider the named groups as sub-ethnoses of one nation - Circassian (Adygeyan) people”.

They also named as Adygs descendants of Ubyhs – the people which had lived till the middle of the XIX century in the upper flows of Sochi and Shahe rivers and almost all deported to the Ottoman empire:

"The present not numerous descendants of Ubyhs, or those who consider themselves as those (they were registered during the All-Russia census of 2002), have the All-Circassian identity, share the Circassian (Adygeyan) cultural traditions, identify themselves with the basic part of modern Circassian (Adygeyan) people”.

The opinion letter of the Institute of ethnology and anthropology appeared not accidentally and could be interesting not only from the scientific point of view. That document is the reply to the letter of the president of the International Circassian association Kanshobi Ajahov who had asked the most authorized Russian scientific instance to answer the question "Are Ubyhs, Shapsugs, Adygs, Circassians, Kabardians the sub-ethnoses of the one Circassian ethnos?”

That question for the leader of the public organization uniting Adygs without any dividing to sub-ethnoses and already in its name fixes the one ethnonym could seem rather strange. It is strange from the point of view of the academic science, too – that is the opinion of the historian, member of "Adyghe Khasa” of Krasnodar Asker Soht:

-I am surprised with that letter to the Russian academy of sciences. Because this question is so obvious that such requiring letter seems to be rather odd. As to the opinion letter it corresponds to what we have in reality. In the native language Adygs name themselves Adygs for already several centuries. So you can not hear anything new about it.

Still, the question has rather concrete contest. Russian empire as well as the Soviet Union not once had remade borders of the Adygeyan lands as the Adygeyan people was resettled in enclaves having got different names supposed as separate nationalities. Circassian national activists struggle with that dissociation. One of the elements of that struggle is agitation for registration of all the Adygs in the census of 2010 as "Circassians”. And in that the activists could find some help from the Institute of ethnology and anthropology. A. Soht considered:

- That opinion letter is connected with the census of 2010. Everybody knows that there is a tendency – calls up to the population to write during the census the ethnonym Circassians. And using that tradition, opponents of that idea had tried to develop false "about-scientific” approaches. But the academic science has no such problem. The opinion letter of the Russian academy of sciences will work for fixation of the one ethnonym. As to political consequences of that letter I do not expect them.

Further political prospects about which the historian speaks so pessimistic, is uniting of Circassian people not only under one name but also in one Circassian region. Asker Soht’s pessimism could be understood – historical scientific opinion letters have no influence on such decisions in Russia.

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