Ab Imperio 3/2022 and 2023 Annual Program

Aleksandr Turbin's picture

Dear Colleagues,

The latest issue of Ab Imperio (3/2022) is now available at https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/48584

This thematic issue of Ab Imperio within the annual program “The Rise and Fall of the State as an Institution and an Analytical Concept” explores the role of human agency in making a distinction between the imperial state and the nation-state. Titled The State of the Nation and Empire: Was There a Difference?,” it focuses not so much on political institutions but rather on the types of institutionalizing human agency as a conventional social identity.

The issue develops the program of decolonizing the former Russian studies by incorporating non-Russian perspectives, new imperial history analytical framework, the discussion of race and color line in the Russian imperial past, and the applicability of postcolonial approaches to Russian imperial and Soviet histories. It also takes a stance on Russia’s war against Ukraine as an expression of the ambition to perform a nationalizing empire by the frustrated nation-state.

The Ukrainian postcoloniality becomes then a matter of a special discussion that problematizes a narrow nation-state framework as situatable for the post-Soviet/postcolonial situation and postnational global condition. Contributing to this ongoing discussion, the issue opens with Mykhaylo Gaukhman’s survey of the new historical metanarrative’s development in Ukraine since 1991. In turn, Riccardo Nicolosi’s essay deconstructs identity politics in the modern-day Russian Federation claiming to be decolonizing itself from the discursive and political hegemony of the “collective West.” This emancipated normative Russianness is produced by cultivating the paranoia, resentment, and reenactment of a mythologized “authentic” past.

Responding to the calls to “decolonize” Russian history following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Louise McReynolds reveals the color line factor in constructing that authentic Russianness in late imperial Russia. Her article focuses on Russia’s prehistorical archaeologists, whose modern Western scientific discourse introduced the symbolic color line into the nominally “white” imperial society and shows that the Black experience does not lie on the periphery of Slavic studies.

This issue also features a review forum dedicated to Mark Gamsa’s book Harbin: A Cross-Cultural Biography (University of Toronto Press, 2021). Its participants, Sergey Glebov, Laurie Manchester, and Kristin Stapleton, comment on various aspects of this double biography of the city and one of its inhabitants, including the questions of cosmopolitanism, Russification, and decolonization of non-Russian Kharbiners.


“Methodology and Theory” section:

“In the Eye of the Beholder: ‘Seeing Like a Nation-State’ as Identity Politics” by the Editors.

“In Search of a New History: Early Twenty-First Century Historiographical Discussions regarding the Metanarrative of Ukraine’s History” by Mykhaylo Gaukhman.

“History” section:

“‘I Have Seen and Heard What Pertains to the Kirghiz-Kaisak and Other Foreign Circumstances’: The Russian Empire’s Informants in the Kazakh Steppe (Second Half of the Eighteenth Century to the 1860s)” by Gulmira Sultangalieva and Ainura Suinova.

“Prehistorical Archaeology, Race Science, and Blackness in Imperial Russia” by Louise McReynolds.

“Occupation, Categorization of the Population, and the Selectivity of Genocide: The Case of the Kharkiv Karaites (1941–1943)” by Yuri Radchenko.

“Archive” section:

“Colonialism and Imperial Nationalism of Russian Naval Elites in the Pacific Region: Publication of the Journal Kept by Vice Admiral and Viceroy in the Far East, Evgeny Ivanovich Alekseev” by Ivan Burmistrov.

Archival publication of E. I. Alekseev’s Journals.

“Newest Mythologies” section:

“Paranoia, Resentment, and Reenactment: The Russian Political Discourse on the War in Ukraine” by Riccardo Nicolosi.

“Historiography” section:

Forum AI on Mark Gamsa’s “Harbin: A Cross-Cultural Biography” (University of Toronto Press, 2021):

“Hybrid History for a Hybrid City” by Sergey Glebov.

“On the Encounter between Chinese, Russians, and Rossiiane in Harbin before and after 1920” by Laurie Manchester.

“Child Brides, Queues, Oriental Wisdom, and Cross-Cultural Eccentricity” by Kristin Stapleton.

Response by Mark Gamsa.

The issue also contains an extended section of book reviews.

Ab Imperio 2023 Annual Program “Toward a Postnational History of Eurasia: Deconstructing Empires, Denationalizing Groupness” is available at https://abimperio.blogspot.com/

Ab Imperio Syllabus module – reading library for your syllabi – is available at: https://sites.google.com/view/ai-syllabus

Submission guidelines: https://abimperio.net/