Text resize: A A
Change contrast

Category: Magazine

To understand Russian nationalism

A review of Lost Kingdom. A History of Russian Nationalism from Ivan the Great to Vladimir Putin. By: Serhii Plokhy. Publisher: Basic Books, New York, 2017.

In the 19th century Russian poet and diplomat Fyodor Ivanovich Tyutchev wrote:
“Russia cannot be understood with the mind alone,
No ordinary yardstick can span her greatness:
She stands alone, unique –
In Russia, one can only believe”.


Tyutchev was strongly involved in the pan-Slavist movement, often criticising the West. After defeating Napoleon and before the Crimea war in the middle of the 19th century, Russia was considered a superpower. Parallels between Russian imperial times and the Kremlin's policy today are clear. Particularly so, if we look at the way Russia is confronting the West and forging its own vision of politics – not only when it comes to its international position but also the role of the Russian nation. The question which constantly returns is thus: how to understand Russia?

January 2, 2018 - Jan Brodowski

Illustrated chronicles of the forgotten and furious in Putin’s Russia

A review of Other Russias . By: Victoria Lomasko. Publisher: Penguin, London, 2017.

What happens when graphic journalism meets human rights activism in contemporary Russia? Other Russias, a newly published book by Victoria Lomasko, is one result of this prolific encounter: a powerful reportage casting light on some of Russia’s most serious social injustices. In Other Russias, Lomasko condensates eight years of research and travel, giving birth to more than 300 pages of drawings produced from life, rather than reproduced from photographs, and writings collected between 2008 and 2016.

January 2, 2018 - Laura Luciani

A historical optimist

A review of Magnetic North: Conversations with Tomas Venclova. By: Tomas Venclova and Ellen Hinsey. Publisher: University of Rochester Press, Rochester New York, 2017.

Today our world is plagued with massive flows of information, chaos, propaganda, post-truth and fake news. If we play on John Austin’s conception of doing things with words, one might have a feeling that our world is simply cramped. There is a tendency to equate being prolific with being great, as literary criticism and economics prefer easily quantifiable works. Aware that culture has origins in the Latin cultivare, we should expect it to bear fruit once a year. The Lithuanian poet and Yale professor Tomas Venclova, however, approaches it with much more patience.

January 2, 2018 - Laurynas Vaičiūnas

Islam and Russian power politics

A review of Russia and Its Islamic World – From the Mongol Conquest to the Syrian Military Intervention. By: Robert Service. Publisher: Hoover Institution Press, 2017.

At the opening of the Moscow Cathedral Mosque in September 2015, President Vladimir Putin called Islam an integral part of Russia’s spiritual life. In the 21st century Islam in Russia is one of the most challenging research topics, since the Russian Federation hosts the largest Muslim minority in Europe and shares an ambivalent history with various Muslim groups. In addition, in 2015 Russia intervened militarily in the Syrian civil war. These facts lead us to question if it is possible to link Russia’s role in domestic politics with its foreign policy in the Muslim world?

January 2, 2018 - Tibor Wilhelm Benedek

Issue 6 2017 – Central Asia. The forgotten region?

November/December 2017: Central Asia. (Is this how you imagine) The forgotten region? Central Asia is an ethnically, geographically and culturally diverse region, covering a similar land mass as the European Union. Yet, it remains one of the least familiar to the general public in the West. An important region in its own right, located in a volatile geopolitical area between Russia, China, Afghanistan and Iran, the five states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan rarely make headlines in the mainstream media. Owing to this neglect the region has fallen victim to orientalist clichés, presenting it as a spacious blank steppe dividing the big players or as a collection of post-Soviet artificial entities devoid of agency in international relations.

October 31, 2017 - New Eastern Europe

The new Great Game that is not

The idea that Central Asia is the nexus of a Great Game between the world’s superpowers is, in the 21st century, largely exaggerated. Undoubtedly, the Central Asian republics are actively engaging with the great powers by relying on their sovereign prerogatives and pursuing their own strategic goals. But this should be seen rather as a strategy of the local players than a competitive game orchestrated from Washington, Moscow or Beijing.

It is not uncommon to hear from academics and pundits alike that Central Asia is now at the centre of a new Great Game between the great powers (namely, the United States, Russia and China), as it was two centuries ago. The term, popularised by Rudyard Kipling’s 1901 novel Kim and first used by Captain Arthur Conolly of the East India Company’s Bengal Army in 1840, directly refers to the 19th-century competition between the Russian and British empires for control over Central Asia. An example of the pre-eminence of the metaphor in today’s intellectual circles is one of the latest books published on international politics in Eurasia, edited by Mehran Kamrava, titled The Great Game in West Asia, which claims that there indeed is a new great game afoot in the region.

Though vigorously denied by those policy-makers actually involved in the politics of the region, and often criticised by more nuanced and context-aware regional observers, the Great Game is still a widely adopted and popular metaphor, rooted in geopolitical thinking and aimed at simplifying the reality. It refers to the competition between the abovementioned states to vie for influence over and in the region, as well as to the conflicts that their different strategies may elicit in the near future. In the Great Game narrative, the five Central Asian republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are the board on which the game is played.

October 31, 2017 - Filippo Costa Buranelli

The self-made Apaches of Kyrgyzstan

In the south of Kyrgyzstan, locals work in old Soviet-era coal mines with horrific conditions and little hope of improvement.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the economies of many states of the former Eastern bloc found themselves in shatters. Soaring unemployment and poverty engulfed all the countries of Central Asia. In Kyrgyzstan, people lost their jobs overnight, while Russians hastily abandoned the former Soviet republics to return to the fallen mother Russia. As they fled, they left behind their homes, jobs and factories. What remained was soon looted, including the railway tracks which were sold to Chinese scrap metal dealers.

October 31, 2017 - Magdalena Borowiec

How Central Asia understands democracy

Since gaining independence after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the republics of Central Asia have undergone a diverse process of nation and state building. However, some common threads in Central Asia have emerged, including a unique understanding of the concept of democracy.

Independence was thrust upon the Central Asian republics in the wake of the Soviet Union’s dissolution, necessitating a series of fundamental processes, including state- and nation-building. While the process of constructing a national identity has been multi-faceted and contested, much of the nation-building concentrated on political regimes, who dovetailed this process to their efforts of consolidating power and legitimation. Twenty-five years later, new symbols of nationhood have replaced the old Soviet paraphernalia. Teams of national historiographers, ethnographers and political ideologues have developed new national narratives to valorise the nations. The content of the new national identities has been drawn from a variety of old and new identity markers: Muslim and Atheist, Turkic, Persian, and Slav, Eastern and Western, and modern and traditional.

October 31, 2017 - Mariya Y. Omelicheva

Central Asia and water: No time left for squabbles

A combination of rapid population growth and climate change, which some believe may lead to the vanishing of much of the region’s river-feeding glaciers within the next half century, is going to pose the greatest challenge Central Asia has ever confronted in its history.

October 31, 2017 - Peter Leonard

The complex reality of radicalisation in Central Asia

An interview with Bhavna Davé, a senior lecturer in Central Asian politics with the department of politics and international studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Interviewer: Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska

October 31, 2017 - Agnieszka Pikulicka-Wilczewska Bhavna Davé

The crawling threat of the Crimea scenario

Kazakhstan staunchly sides with Russia in global affairs and supports many of its integration initiatives in the former Soviet space. However, following the annexation of Crimea the fear that Kazakhstan's ethnic Russian regions might share the peninsula's fate has returned.

Kazakh citizens arriving at the railway station in the northern sleepy town of Petropavlovsk may find it puzzling that the clocks on the station’s walls show a time different than the local time zone. The oddity stems from the fact that the Petropavlovsk station, as well as many other Kazakh stations in North Kazakhstan region, lies along Russia’s Trans-Siberian Railway and is operated by the Russian Railways company – hence, the clocks show Moscow time, which is three hours behind the local time. North Kazakhstan is also one of the two Kazakh regions, along with the neighbouring Kostanay region, where ethnic Russians still outnumber ethnic Kazakhs, despite the continuing depopulation processes caused by the emigration of ethnic Russians to Russia and higher birth rate among ethnic Kazakhs.

October 31, 2017 - Naubet Bisenov

A looming humanitarian crisis in the land Orwell forgot

Turkmenistan, a desert republic of 5.6 million people and widely considered to be one of the world’s most repressive states, is heading towards a humanitarian catastrophe the effects of which could be geopolitically significant.

October 31, 2017 - Christopher Schwartz

Partners

Terms of Use | Cookie policy | Copyryight 2018 Kolegium Europy Wschodniej im. Jana Nowaka-Jeziorańskiego
webdesign : hauerpower.com