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National, Ethnic and Religious Identities: Hybridity and the case of the Polish Tatars

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Abstract:

Questions of hybridity and multiple identities are over-theorised but the number of empirical studies is limited. The present study examines some of the discursive devices used in two Polish Tatar magazines for managing narratives about their national, ethnic and religious identities. The Polish Tatars are a numerically small group that have lived for more than 600 years in Catholic Poland. For them, being a Tatar, Muslim and Pole at the same time, is central to their self-understanding, and they do not want to limit the importance of any of these. Two main strategies of narrative identity management were identified, related to identity definitions and identity connections. The former gives layered understandings about Polish Tatar identity: a factual one in which a local and historical connection is made and a spiritual one in which belonging to an imagined symbolic community is stressed. The latter provides reconciliation between identities by stressing their similarities and relations, by emphasizing the contributions made by Tatars to Polish society, and by presenting the Tatars as potentially being in a unique mediating position between Islam and Christianity. In the near future, Tatars' strategies for creating a hybrid identity might be challenged by global and more local developments.

Keywords: Hybridity; Multiple Identities; Narrative; Polish Tatars

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14608940600703650

Publication date: June 1, 2006

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