POWER, SUBJECTIVITY AND POLICY OF REPRESENTATION IN BIROBIDZHAN, THE JEWISH AUTONOMOUS OBLAST (RUSSIA) (Wladza, podmiotowosc i polityka reprezentacji w Zydowskim Obwodzie Autonomicznym (Birobidzan) w Rosji)
In this article the authoress analyses modern politics of representation in the Jewish Autonomous Region in Russia. Having discussed the conditions on which the region was established as a 'socialist, Jewish motherland' and based on ethnographic observations made in autumn 2008, she shows the use of the 'Jewishness' representation to achieve temporary political goals. The local politics of representation is presented as an activity being part of power relations established with reference to different discourses. It is a situation which facilitates creation of different types of subjectivity. A confrontational character of relations between the centres which try to influence the politics of representation, and the number of discourses which impact on the creation of identity, make the concept of 'Jewishness' subject to continuous negotiations dependant on the actual configuration of power relations. It permits the existence of 'Jewish' identities, which cannot be defined as natural and permanent but as fluid and open to fine-tuned definition within the framework of specific political actions. This situation results in the politics of representation, which is reminiscent of the 'strategic essentialism' that uses 'essence' temporarily, assuming that it can be deconstructed. Political activities observed in the Jewish Autonomous Region lead to the conclusion that in this case the 'strategic essentialism' is not a matter of choice but it is conditioned by the lack of possibilities to apply an essentialist policy per se. The article ends with a description of possible interactions that an anthropologist can be involved in, in the context of the politics of representation, and the consequences of the use of an ethnographic text in the process of creation of knowledge about the region and its inhabitants.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.