Vkontakte is a popular Russian online social network where, among other things, users can create thematic groups and invite people to join them to exchange information, meet other users, and discuss different issues. In this article, I focus on groups that are formed around issues related to Tatars, the second largest ethnic group in Russia. On the basis of my study of Tatar groups, I argue that Vkontakte is a powerful tool for ethnic networking that connects Tatars from all over Russia, while also functioning as an instrument of ethnic identity construction and negotiation. On the one hand, Tatar groups reproduce and mobilize traditional representations of what it means to be Tatar with topics of the Tatar language or Islam being the central ones. On the other hand, some Tatar groups represent alternative versions of Tatar identity, reviving pre-Islamic religious beliefs such as Tengriism or constructing alternative ethnic identities.
Language of contribution: English