A very ambiguous empire: Russia's hybrid exceptionalism

A very ambiguous empire: Russia's hybrid exceptionalism

Monday, 25 November 2019 - 5:00pm to 7:00pm
Venue: 
Nissan Lecture Theatre
Speaker(s): 
Dr Kevork Oskanian (formerly CREES, University of Birmingham)
Convenor: 
Professor Roy Allison (St Antony's) & Dr Alexander Morrison (New College)
Series: 
Russian and Eurasian Studies Centre Monday Seminar

Peripheral Histories and International Relations of the Eurasian Borderlands

This talk will widen existing analyses of Russian imperial narratives through the introduction of the concept of ‘hybrid exceptionalism’, referring to discourses and practices of hierarchy emanating from the country’s liminal position between Occident and Orient, and its ambiguous relationship with both the ‘core’ of Western modernity, and its non-Western ‘periphery’. In its various—Tsarist, Soviet, contemporary—guises, Russia is posited to have reproduced and secured a distinct sphere of interest through civilizational narratives of hierarchy that combined imitation with differentiation to formulate a series of distinct civilising missions. Transcending the political discontinuities of 1917 and 1991, such hierarchical civilising missions have been a defining feature of various Russian worldviews for centuries, and are poised to remain so in the absence of a major redefinition of national identity.

Dr. Kevork Oskanian is a Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham’s Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS); he obtained his PhD at the London School of Economics’ Department of International Relations, and has previously taught at the LSE and at the University of Westminster.  His current research interests include the Copenhagen School, post-colonial perspectives on contemporary Eurasian politics, and the role of liberal ideology in the shaping of Western policies towards the former Soviet Union.