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Decolonising National and Religious Culture: New Perspectives on Russia’s Imperial History and Heritage


CERES-Palais, Raum "Ruhrpott" (4.13)

At the present moment, Russian national identity seems to solidify around the celebration of Slavic civilisation, Orthodox Christianity, conservative values and a new imperial consciousness. In this emerging image of the nation, little recognition is given to the ethnic and religious minorities with their respective histories and traditions. Although newer studies exist that take a critical view of the colonial past and the (post-)colonial present, certain pre-conditions are taken for granted, thus rarely causing scholars to engage with questions about the political responsibility for the ethnic minorities, their rights and possibilities or the imagination and (re-)making of the land and its peoples. In the framework of this conference, we wish to focus on instances of contact between different ethnic and religious groups and particularly between Orthodox Christianity on the one hand and Islam, but also Buddhism and animistic traditions on the other, as these situations capture the clash of contrary outlooks, the negotiation of culture and history and the struggle for the right to define specific territories. The papers to be presented reflect upon constellations of ethnic and religious contact both in contemporary times and the Soviet period; yet in some instances they also conjure the Tsarist imperial past.

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