Dancing the Nation in the North Caucasus by Sufian Zhemukhov and Charles King

Slavic Review Vol. 72, No. 2 (Summer 2013), pp. 287-305

Published by: Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies; Cambridge University Press


In the north Caucasus, collective dance has long been an expression of communal identity and a forum for political dissent. In this article Sufian Zhemukhov and Charles King examine the emergence and transformation of a communal dance form known as adyge jegu (roughly, “Circassian festival“) in the Russian republics of Adygeia, Karachaevo-Cherkesia, and Kabardino-Balkaria. They chart the history of the adyge jegu after 2005, elucidate debates over the meaning of authenticity in contemporary Circassian nationalism, and provide a detailed archaeology of the specific decisions that enabled this cultural artifact to get constructed in one way but not another. While attention typically focuses on elite-driven narratives of border security and terrorism, the adyge jegu highlights grassroots debates over the meaning of right behavior, the boundaries of communal identity, and alternatives to Russianness in either its russkii or rossiiskii varieties.

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