IMAGINING CHUVASH HISTORICAL TIME:
HISTORICAL CONTINUITIES AND INTELLECTUAL FAILURES
Maksym W. Kyrchanoff
Voronezh State University
The concept of historical time is a focal point in the imagination and invention of national history. Among nations without a tradition of independent statehood, historical time was actualized when these nations became independent actors in historical processes. Nationalists played a special role in inventing historical time in their struggle against more powerful opponents. Beginning in the interwar period, Chuvash nationalists formed their own unique Chuvash concept of historical time. Nationalist-inclined Chuvash intellectuals radically tried to separate Chuvash historical time from Russian collective representations. In contrast, during the latter half of the twentieth century, Chuvash Soviet intellectuals developed a loyal version of historical time integrated into the broader Soviet and Russian historical context. In the post-Soviet period, Chuvash intellectuals revived the earlier national idea of historical time from their interwar predecessors. The current intellectual community of historians in Chuvashia is fragmented into two groups, those who cultivate a national Chuvash version of historical time and those who endorse a pro-Russian version. On the one hand, the general uncertainty of Chuvash historical time has stimulated the rise of historical pessimism. On the other hand, the historical situation provided intellectuals with limited number of opportunities and options for political, social and cultural progress. Therefore, debates about historical time among Chuvash nationalists continue through the present day, while the general trajectories of collective representations about historical time remain unclear.
Keywords: Chuvash identity, nationalism, historical imagination, the invention of traditions.