A SHORT READING OF RUSSIAN NATIONALISM VIA ILMINSKY’S EDUCATION SYSTEM

Kutay ÜSTÜN

Metehan KARAKURT

The phenomenon of nationalism, which emerged as a result of modernization and industrialization in Western Europe, soon began to threaten the multi-lingual multinational feudal state structure of the Tsarist administration. Tsarist Russia, which wanted to preserve its borders and the existing state structure that expanded to the Caucasus and Turkestan, followed the assimilation and missionary policies towards the middle of the 19th century to Russify and Christianize non-Russian (Nerusky) and non-Christian (Inoverets) ethnic groups. At the beginning of this cultural nationalist policy, which was carried out by Nikolai Ivanovich Ilminsky, who worked on theology and Turkish dialects in Kazan Spiritual Academy, in order to have Russian as a language of education and communication within the Tsarist borders. The education method of Ilminsky, supported by Tsar Alexander II, enabled the Russian language and Christianity to become widespread and more systematically applied as a reflection of the rising Russian nationalism. In line with this training method, it was aimed to carry out missionary activities, to teach Russian and Cyrillic alphabet alongside local languages, to divide these languages with accents and dialects and to make Russian a common language within Tsarist borders. Thus, the religious and ethnically different groups were wanted to be assimilated within the Russian and Orthodox Christian identities. This study examines the process of cultural assimilation policy carried out by the Russian nationalism through the education system of Ilminsky, the factors affecting this process, the structure and applications of this education system. Although the education system of Ilminsky did not reach its target within the boundaries of the empire, it was seen to be quite effective in Christianization of Tatar Turks, in spreading Russian among other ethnic groups and in terms of laying the ground for the subsequent Russification policies. The Ilminsky education system, which caused the start of a new phase in Russian nationalism, led to the emergence of nationalist ideas and intelligentsia among the ethnic groups exposed to this system The nationalist ideas spread among the ethnic groups exposed to the policy of Russification have enabled the establishment of new educational systems and the emergence of national liberation movements.

Keywords: Russian Nationalism, Russification, Ilminsky, Caucasia, Nationalism