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Отдел на Русском Языке 
Совет Беженцам
Юридические справки и практический совет беженцам

"Values stronger than war"

Zalpa Bersanova, a Chechen ethnographer who received her doctorate at Moscow State University, has spent more than a decade systematically documenting the value system of Chechens society and how it has been affected by war, violence and displacement. She recently came to the United States to conduct research on the small, but vocal Chechen diaspora community here, part of a project on the Chechen diaspora supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (www.macfound.org).The Chechnya Advocacy Network hosted Dr. Bersanova during her stay and, believing that her research is unique in its focus and scope, introduced her to academic institutions, think tanks and the media to present her work.

Her presentation to an audience at a briefing held by Radio Free Europe, under the title "Values Stronger then War: Islam and the Struggle for Meaning in Chechnya", was met with a wealth of questions by the audience. During private meetings at think tanks and NGOs Dr. Bersanova received an equally warm welcome and she left very impressed by the interest in her work.

Dr. Bersanova's findings are both typical and surprising. It is common in situations of war and displacement all over the world, for example, that the role of women in society is strengthened, as they have to support and protect their families during very hard times; correspondingly, Dr. Bersanova noted, respect for women, already a traditional Chechen value, had increased over the last decade. Among the more unexpected outcomes is that during the current, second war, Chechens are less likely to blame all Russians for their plight than they were during the first war. Dr. Bersanova attributes this to the fact that internally displaced Chechens in other parts of Russia have witnessed the great difficulties ordinary Russians face and how little protection they get from their government.

In addition to her academic work, Zalpa Bersanova is also a published author of short stories and, most recently, a novel based on autobiographical experiences. Her novel, Doroga domoi (The Road Home), is currently being translated by Chechnya Advocacy Network member Rebecca Gould, and we hope to facilitate its publication in the US.

To learn more about Dr. Bersanova's work, you can read a summary of her presentation at Radio Free Europe at www.rferl.org/releases/2004/08/257-030804.asp or download the text of her presentation here.

You can also read a translated excerpt from her novel The Road Home (chapter seven).



Humanitarian crisis in Chechnya:

Hunger, desperate poverty, people living in bombed-out ruins and squalid camps, landmines causing daily casualties, widespread health problems and a whole generation growing up without adequate schooling...
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