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

Vera Tolz

Vera Tolz is Sir William Mather Professor of Russian Studies at the University of Manchester. Her current, AHRC-funded project, 'Mediating post-Soviet difference: an analysis of Russian television representation of inter-ethnic cohesion issues' addresses Russian state television's approach to ethnic tensions. Tolz's interests include nationalism and ethnic politics in modern and contemporary Russia; Oriental studies and national identity in imperial and early Soviet Russia; and comparative imperial history.

Projecting the Nation: Media Events and Changing Narratives of Nationhood in Putin's Russia

Given that influential theories of nationalism emphasize that successful nation-building requires the development of media and communication in a community which is imagined in national terms, the limited nature of the existing scholarship on the subject comes as a surprise. Scholars tend to pay considerably more attention to the role of the media during conflicts, while tending to neglect the media contribution to achieving national cohesion. Moreover, the print media and Internet receive greater coverage than broadcasting, due to the easier accessibility of the former. As a result, the nation-building function of television is less studied than its societal importance warrants.

Aiming to fill this gap, this presentation is concerned with the distinctive role played by television in the construction and dissemination of narratives of nationhood in Putin's Russia. The following questions are addressed: Who are the key actors in the construction of official discourse in Putin's Russia? What role do Media Events play in Russian identity politics? How and why has the discourse of the nation change in the course of the last ten years?

In response to these questions, the presentation develops four interconnected points: (1) The Kremlin should not be perceived as the main actor in the construction of narratives of nationhood, even though it should be acknowledged that in the context of the Ukraine crisis its role in framing official discourse has increased significantly compared to earlier periods. (2) Public intellectuals and media personalities, with ties to the Kremlin, play a central role in the construction of official discourse. (3) Public prejudices and preferences have a significant impact on official discourse. Official discourse is thus developed via a complex interaction between the Kremlin, the state-aligned media and, to some extent, the public. Paradoxically, at times of political crisis the input of public intellectuals and media personalities can increase, while the regime also becomes more concerned about the public mood. (4) The growing ethnicisation of the official discourse of the nation is encouraged by this three-way interaction.


Selected publications