Russian Exceptionalism between East and West: the Ambiguous Empire


This lecture will introduce ‘Hybrid Exceptionalism’ as a critical conceptual tool aimed at uncovering Russia’s self-positioning between ‘East’ and ‘West’, and its hierarchical claims over subalterns situated in both civilizational imaginaries. It will discuss how, in the Tsarist, Soviet, and contemporary eras, distinct civilizational spaces were created, and maintained, through narratives and practices emanating from Russia’s ambiguous relationship with Western modernity, and its part-identification with a subordinated ‘Orient’. The Romanov Empire’s struggles with ‘Russianness’, the USSR’s Marxism-Leninism, and contemporary Russia’s combination of feigned liberal and civilizational discourses will be explored as the basis of a series of successive civilising missions, through an interdisciplinary engagement with official discourses, scholarship, and the arts. The talk will conclude with an exploration of contemporary policy implications for the West, and the former Soviet states themselves.

About the speaker:

Dr. Kevork Oskanian is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Birmingham, UK. 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 International Relations of Eurasia, and post-liberal approaches to International Society and the state.

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Russian Exceptionalism between East and West: the Ambiguous Empire


Auditorium F, Campus Ufo, Technicum blok 2, Sint-Pietersnieuwstraat 41, 9000 Gent