Global South Lecture Series | Mirja Lecke & Oleksandr Zabirko (Regensburg) - Wie Russland seinen Süden entwarf
Mirja Lecke & Oleksandr Zabirko (Slavic Studies, Regensburg)
Wie Russland seinen Süden entwarf
This lecture will be held in German
Framing the South in Russian Culture
Russia’s place in the geopolitical imaginary is unstable. In the Early Modern era, Russia was the North. It was only within the context of West European Enlightenment discourses that it came to be imagined as the East (as Larry Wolff argued in Inventing Eastern Europe). From around 1800, however, Russian elites themselves treated their positioning in the East as a fundamental part of their self-conception. Orientation in relation to the West – whether as something to distance from or to imitate – has determined broad elements of Russian identity discourses, even if value judgements favouring the East require reinterpretation (as in the case of the Eurasian movement). Russia’s expansion has been ascribed various justifications: heading eastwards pitted civilization against nature, while the southern expansion brought more complex discursive strategies into play. It is the latter that we seek to explore in this lecture. Our theoretical reflections draw on the works of Madina Tlostanova, who describes Russia as a secondary, Janus-faced Empire that appropriates Western North-South divisions and itself implicitly becomes a second, ‘poor’ North. In our case studies, we contrast two different Russian North-South models within which Ukraine and the Caucasus (particularly Georgia), respectively, are depicted as the South.