Avenel Companion to Modern Social Theorists
Postcolonial societies are a unique event in world history. Their emergence in the mid-twentieth century did not result from centuries-old internal social processes, but was directly determined by the formation and short-lived (by historical standards) existence and disintegration of the European colonial empires. The colonial borders reflected primarily the balance of forces between the metropolitan powers in this or that region, but not the preceding course of the region's own political, social, economic, and cultural history. With rare exceptions, many different peoples were forcibly united within a colony. Not only kinship but also cultural affinity among those peoples was often absent. At the same time, the colonial borders would divide one people or break the historically established regional systems of economic and cultural ties not less infrequently. Likewise, the colonialists would forcibly unite peoples that had never formed regional political and economic systems; moreover, had different levels of sociocultural complexity, and sometimes did not even know about each other or were historical enemies. At the same time, the colonial borders would often separate historically and economically connected peoples and societies. These features were supplemented by stadial and civilizational heterogeneity of the colonial societies. The elements of capitalism, implanted by the Europeans in different spheres, did not synthesize with a set of pre-capitalist features of the local societies. There was also a little intersection between the autochthonous and new sectors of public life, in which essentially different value systems dominated.
Russia's European South as a macroregion formed in the late imperial and Soviet periods. It that time Russia's Caucasus was shaped as its integral part. The whole region is often regarded a backward and closed borderland that opposed to all modernization processes reaching it late. In this article the author argues that this stereotypic narrative was uncritically borrowed by some politicians and scholars from the Russian colonial literature of the nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. It should be rethought basing on first-hand sources from region. In reality, Russia's Caucasus quickly answered to all challenges that reached it from the imperial core. After the end of the Caucasus war a long series of reforms started in the region. They ended already under the Soviet rule and resulted in making Caucasus as integral part of the Russian polity for more than half a century.
Globalization is a process of not unification but rapprochement of cultures, formation of a global civilization as a «federation» of local civilizations. In connection with transformations of the phenomenon of nation in the post-colonial period, its tendency to transform from a «supraethnic» into «interethnic» phenomenon, a global transnational culture is forming. With respect to this process, it makes sense to speak about not degradation, but a change in the place of ethnic cultures and even an increase in their role in the time of intensive globalization.