How does the role of ordinary citizens change in the interpretation and production of national identity under an authoritarian political system? Exploring the discursive role of authoritarian political stability on perceptions of national identity, this study examines how categories of “national” are appropriated and internalized in identity talks among Belarusians. It offers a bottom–up perspective on national identification, drawing on analysis of six focus group discussions with Belarusian citizens. The main objective was to observe everyday language and how people construct symbolic significance for certain practices as “national” and what are the meanings invested in replicating and re-enacting different identity markers, given the contingencies of everyday life in an authoritarian political context. I evaluate cross-group and intergroup discursive variations in responses and repertoires of volunteer participants in terms of agreement and disagreement. Public conformity with regime ideational practices does not appear to equate with political allegiance to the current regime. Even when identity repertoires echo the identity discourses of official state ideology, people attach their own meanings and interpretations to these identity markers. However, I find that the authoritarian context affects how identity repertoires are enacted and talked about. Integrating performative aspects of identity talks into the analysis, I note how participants consciously reflect on the sensitivity of political topics, and prioritize politically neutral narratives.
Min doktoravhandling fokuserer på strategier i nasjonsbyggingogsosialekonflikter iden post-sovjetiskeregionen.Jeganalyser dynamikken ispennet mellom identitet ogsosialekonflikterien autoritærtpost-sovjetiskstat, basertpåstudier avHviterussland.