The period immediately following the end of the Cold War has challenged many nation states of the former Eastern bloc. The dissolution of the Soviet Union created power and identity vacuum .The process of simultaneous changes in social, political and economical has started and resulted in transformation of geographical space as well.
The burden of Soviet`s past became more visible and gave rise to many ethnic conflicts in the former Soviet space. On the eve of presidential elections in 2012 Vladimir Putin has made a statement that his main ambition is the creation of Eurasian Union. This initiative is regarded by many as the way to re-consolidate borders of the former Soviet state. In my opinion it can be considered as renewed attempt to deal with the multiethnic problem after many failed efforts to solve it.
In my paper I want to examine the way in which the culture, territory and identity is conceptualized and represented in official political rhetoric of the Eurasian Party and in non-official discourse in periphery. In my opinion there are dichotomies between top-down official political discourse of the center and the horizontal level of peripheries when dealing with the perception of the identity and culture. I argue that there is a lack of coherent cultural policy on the official level in Russia today. My aim is to reveal the strategies and techniques used in order to consolidate and centralize political power which I see as tools in order to legitimize imperial ambitions of contemporary Russia. Alternatively it can be seen as a strategies of survival of the nation state in the struggle for power in the globalized world. I will use the theories of poststructuralism, discourse analysis and Gramsci´s hegemony theory.
What countries do you think about when you hear the word “colonialism”? At first glance, you might think about England, France or the Netherlands who conquered and dominated African and South Asian countries. Then you might find it paradoxical to see that such a powerful country like the United States of America used to be the colony of England. But have you ever put Russia and the former Soviet states into the domain of colonialism? The article “Is the Post- in Postcolonial the Post- in Post-Soviet? Toward a Global Postcolonial Critique” by David Chioni Moore might shed some new lights over the theory of colonialism.
Should we regard the Russo/Soviet power as a colonizer or liberator? (Image source: scrapetv.com)
The main contribution of the article is to extend the theory of “postcolonialism” to Russia/Soviet and its satellite states. According to the author, there is a silence or in other words, there isn’t any tradition among Western scholars to regard the Russian/Soviet and the post-Soviet era from the postcolonial point of view. While most of the scholars on postcolonialism are Marxists or left oriented and initially criticized Western powers, we can discern the preservation of the Eurocentric view since they regard colonialism to be only the problem of Western powers and the countries affected by it.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines “colonialism” as a policy of practice of acquiring full or partial control over another country, occupying it with settlers, and exploiting it economically. Based on this definition, it is not surprising to see that the post-Soviet time is very similar to any postcolonial times in various occupied territories around the world. The author gives us some reasons why we should see the post-Soviet satellite states suffering from the postcolonial syndrome, for example the compensatory behaviour in the form of fondness for the Western lifestyle. Yet, Moore doesn’t mention that even Russians despite the fact of being colonizing power suffer from the same syndrome.
In historical and political discourses, the word “colonialism” or “postcolonialism” has gone beyond its original/dictionary meaning to imply only the classical cases of domination like French-Vietnam, England-America… Although the author suggests applying the term “postcolonialism” to the cases of former Soviet states, it is interesting to see that he himself is very cautious about extending the theory of “postcolonialism” as it might lose its analytical bite when we apply the same term to different situations. The risk of such an approach of putting all countries in the same melting pot can cause in our view the outbreak of the “battle of victimhood” because all countries have been exposed to colonial experience in one or another way, which will lead to prolonged debates without promoting the reconciliation process of many former enemies. Without extending the term, scholars can still do thorough and impartial research about Russia and the other former Soviet states.
The author’s arguments are impartial in the sense that they are not put forward in order to judge whether place X is postcolonial or not but more importantly to ask whether postcolonial hermeneutics add richness to the studies of postcolonialism at various places.
Madeleine, JHK, Tra