Head of the Organising Committee
Sanna Turoma
sanna.turoma [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Coordinator
Kaarina Aitamurto
kaarina.aitamurto [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Secretary
Maarit Elo-Valente
maarit.elo-valente [at] helsinki.fi

Conference Intern
Miikka Piiroinen
miikka.piiroinen [at] helsinki.fi

Conference e-mail:
fcree-aleksconf [at] helsinki.fi

The Aleksanteri Institute

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O. Box 42)
00014 University of Helsinki
phone +358-(0)50-3565 802

aleksanteri [at] helsinki.fi


Past Aleksanteri Conferences

Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock (Wesleyan University, USA)

Nikolay Mitrokhin (University of Bremen, Germany)

Alexander Titov (Queen's University Belfast, UK)

Panel abstract: Narratives and Origins of Contemporary Russian Patriotism

This panel seeks to analyze the resurgence of patriotic discourse in contemporary Russia by its origins and narratives. While the development of the contemporary political crisis was largely unexpected, it forces observers to revisit the end of the Cold War and the dynamics of the Soviet Union's collapse in search of origins. The papers presented here approach this project from three different perspectives, offering histories of how Russia has come to imagine itself, both at home and on the world stage.

Victoria Smolkin-Rothrock's paper, "The Second Baptism of Rus'?: The Spiritual Foundations of New Russian Patriotism," discusses how religion in general, and Orthodoxy in particular, came to occupy an increasingly central place in current patriotic discourse. Smolkin-Rothrock argues that by situating contemporary events in a restoration narrative that privileges historical continuity, religion has become one of the primary cultural frameworks for legitimating Russian politics, and therefore a critical cultural resource for the Russian state.

Nikolay Mitrokhin's paper, "Anti-Western Civil Society in Russia and the Origins of the War in the Donbass," seeks to move beyond the Maidan, the immediate political cause of the violent conflicts in Eastern Ukraine. Mitrokhin argues that to understand the success of the anti-Maidan campaign, we need to trace its origins to the deeper history of Russian nationalist mobilization around an anti-western platform, which had begun long before the outbreak of armed conflict in 2014.

Aleksander Titov's paper, Patriotism or realism?: Untying ideological knots of Russia's policy in Ukraine, examines how Russian foreign policy discourse changed as a result of the Ukraine crisis. Titov examines how patriotic, ethno-nationalist arguments emerged as an integral part of official justification for Russias policy in Ukraine. This presents an important departure from previous emphasis on national interests couched in realist terms.

Together, these papers suggest that the current patriotic consensus works in large part by tapping into already existing themes about the critical importance of Russian patriotism at home and Russia's influence abroad--lending authenticity, legitimacy, and hence power, to the political narratives currently circulating in Russia.