Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Window on Eurasia: Internet Can Help Consolidate Dispersed Nations like the Tatars, Expert Says

Paul Goble

Vienna, January 11 – The Tatar segment of the Internet can play a key role in the consolidation of that widely dispersed nation, providing a virtual meeting place in which Tatars regardless of where they live can come together, share ideas, and recognize their commonalities, according to a leading specialist on the web in the Russian Federation.
But unfortunately, Aynur Sibgatullin says, despite the explosive growth in the number and quality of Tatar sites, which may be collectively designated as “Tatnet,” “the obverwhelming majority of Tatars do not even suspect the possibilities which they could make use of thanks to [that segment of the Internet]” (tatar-tribun.ru/news/tatarskij-internet.html#more-1213).
To give some indication of the density and richness of this segment of the web, Sibgatullin lists some of the most important sites. In his article, each of these is available via hypertext links, making his survey especially useful not only for Tatars but also for other national groups considering developing this virtual space and for students of both.
The Republic of Tatarstan maintains an official server, “a unique kind of visiting card” for Kazan which contains both information about and links to the basic structures of the state, the media, educational institutions, a “Who’s Who” of Tatars, and the personal sites of both the former and current presidents of the republic.
Another site that is especially useful is the collective web server of the Civil Society network of Tatarstan that is operated by Kazan State University. Here there are links to individual educational institutions and scholars, to academic journals and publications, and to sources on the history, culture, and religion of the republic and nation.
The Tatnet also features numerous media outlets, including Tatasr-Inform, TatNews.ru, Intertat, and various newspapers including electronic versions of “Tatarstan Republic,” “Tatar Kray,” “Moskovsky komsomolets v Tatarstane,” “Vechernyaya Kazan,” and journals like “Tatarstan.” And there are Tatasr outlets like “Tatar donyasi” and “Azatlyk.”
In addition, the Tatnet features several Tatar radio stations whose programming is streamed including Dulkyn and Radio Liberty in Tatar and Bashkir. And it has analytic reports from among others, Panorama-Forum, EAWARN for the Volga Federal District, and the ethnological monitoring conducted by R. Abdurakhmanov and E. Mavrina.
Many Tatar cities have their own sites, with Kazan having a disproportionate number. Increasingly, Sibgastullin continues, companies and even individuals in the republic are creating and maintaining frequently updated sites as well. And he calls attention to sites operated by libraries and specialized research centers.
“With the appearance of the Internet, ethnic Tatars living beyond the borders of the Republic Tatarstan acquired a unique opportunity to order an acquire through the net Tastsar books, audio and video materials, and perhaps most importantly textbooks on Tatar language through a range of online stores.
Because most Tatars live beyond the borders of Tatarstan, the Tatnet is thus serving as a virtual space in which all of them can come together, something Tatars in Kazan have long dreamed of but up until now they have not the possibility of arranging. That is likely to have profound effects for the maintenance of Tatar identity across the Russian Federation.
But equally important, the Tatnet represents the latest way in which the Kazan Tatars have served as the model for other dispersed nationalities in the Russian Federation and as an indication to all that far more can now be learned about themselves and these others by those far away thanks to the world wide web than many people currently assume.

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