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Article

Автономия, меньшинства и мультикультурализм: в чем смысл управления многообразием?

Осипов А. Г.

The paper addresses a set of ways to conceptually organize and represent ethnic diversity though law and politics. The point of departure is an examination of the Russian law on non-territorial autonomy for ethnic groups (1996) and the conclusion that the law virtually has no practical value. A wider study reveals that the idea of "non-territorial autonomy" and its practical implications have much in common with the approaches resting on the notions of "multiculturalism" and "minorities". Also a comparison of legal and administrative practices related to ethnicity demonstrates that a variety of terminologies employed in different national contexts may denote similar ideas, decisions and outcomes. Ethnic differences are described in terms of "group" and "culture"; the issues of territorial affiliation becomes the crucial one; the theme of equality is being reduced to the issues of a "fair" classification and taxonomy of groups. It turns out that these approaches have no utilitarian meaning, but rather contribute to a publicly acceptable representation of social reality. These observations allow us to question the specific position of Russia in the area known as "nationalities policy" or "ethnic relations". Reversely, one can talk about some local manifestations of the global trends in the perceptions and representations of ethnic diversity. It is supposed that actual "diversity policies" stem from a set of essentialist and group-centric assumptions which have become universally accepted. The meaning of these "diversity policies" can be explained in terms of symbolic (re)production of social reality. Dissemination of these socially acceptable narratives concerning ethnic diversity turns to be a mechanism of power and social cohesion.