On Breads and Identity

By Ekaterina Askarina.


Contemporary Russian artists comment on the term ‘national identity’ as quite an artificial construction. It is hardly applicable to the country, which once occupied one sixth of the world’s continental territory, on which numerous and extremely diverse ethnoses – from Mongolian to Aryan to Ugro-Finnic – live. The literary translation from the English ‘national identity’ has been introduced into the Russian language quite recently and has not become any natural. Though, centuries long has the thought over ‘the mysterious Russian soul’ and ‘Scythians and Asians’ who we are, been occupying minds of philosophers, writers, artists of the country. What are we ‘identical’ to?


It becomes clearer when all those, belonging to the multitude of nationalities spread between the country’s borders, are called ‘Russians’ once abroad. It strikes that ‘Russian national identity’, as any other, is the summary of certain qualities, beliefs, habits which point out to the others: he/she is not from our group. It is the signage which informs: ‘From the other tribe’.