Reassessing Russian Nationalism: the Search for a Social Consensus

March 9, 2010 - 15:30 - 17:00
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Stela Garaz
Reassessing Russian Nationalism: the Search for a Social Consensus

As an interactive process, nationalism functions to integrate citizens and legitimate the power of the elite, all the while ensuring social cohesion in a period of significant disruption. Taking this hypothesis as a point of departure, this presentation examines the place of nationalism in Russia, analyzing it as a way of achieving national reconciliation in the wake of the profound divisions produced by perestroika and the reforms of the early 1990s. Requested as much by its citizens as by political authorities, the normalization of the country demands that a consensus be established, and the notion of the motherland (rodina) is alone apt to achieve this: there is no other symbol which, traversing all divisions, generates as broad an adhesion as that of the nation. Contrary to the claims made by the majority of works devoted to it, Russian nationalism does not merely spell extremism, marginalization, radicalism, or opposition to power but in actual fact marks a return to social, political, cultural and emotional normalcy.


Marlène Laruelle is a Senior Research Fellow at the Russian and Eurasian Department, SAIS, Johns Hopkins University, Washington DC. Her main areas of expertise are nationalism, national identities, political philosophy, and the intellectual trends and geopolitical conceptions of Russian and Central Asian elites. Her English-language publications include Russian Eurasianism. An Ideology of Empire (Woodrow Wilson Press/Johns Hopkins University Press, 2008); In the Name of the Nation. Nationalism and Politics in Contemporary Russia (Palgrave, Spring 2009); ed. Russian Nationalism and the National Reassertion of Russia (Routledge, Spring 2009).