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Anna Korhonen
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Eeva Korteniemi
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Location & Connections

 

Visiting Fellows 2013-2014

Kåre Johan Mjør, Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Sweden

“The Concept of Civilisation in Contemporary Russia”
(September-October 2013)

MjorBiography:
Kåre Johan Mjør (b. 1973) defended his PhD at the University of Bergen in 2009, and has in the period 2011–2013 been a postdoctoral research fellow at the Uppsala Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies, Uppsala University. His postdoc project has examined the canon of Russian philosophy – its creation at the turn of the twentieth century and its maintenance in post-Soviet Russia – and the results of this project will be published as two separate articles in 2013/2014. Otherwise, his main research interest so far has been Russian historiography: of philosophy, of culture and ideas, as well as of the Russian nation. He is the author of Reformulating Russia: The Cultural and Intellectual Historiography of Russian First-Wave Émigré Writers (Brill, 2011), a book that analyses the histories of Georgii Fedotov, Georgii Florovskii, Nikolai Berdiaev and Vasilii Zenskovskii. He has also published articles on the historiography of late imperial Russia (first and foremost Vasilii Kliluchevskii), on post-Soviet philosophical culture (the reception here of Berdiaev and Fedotov) and on the Russian Internet and its digitization projects. His first academic publication was a book on Lev Tolstoy (University of Bergen, 2002). His most recent research projects focus on Russian conceptual history, with particular emphasis on the notions of “Russian civilisation” and the “Russian Idea.” He is also embarking on a comprehensive analysis of the concept of tvorchestvo in Russian thought, from Vladimir Solov’ev to Mikhail Bakhtin.

Abstract of current research:
The idea and concept of a “Russian civilisation” became popular in Russian academic, religious and public discourses during the 1990s, and this so-called “civilisational turn,” where various facets of Russian culture became subject to holistic and at times also politicised approaches, has been interpreted as a substitute for the abandoned ideology of Marxism-Leninism. Nevertheless, the notion appears to have survived the immediate period of transition and has remained influential also after the turn of the millennium among Russian public intellectuals, within the Russian Orthodox church as well as in more traditional academic venues. And when the then prime minister Vladimir Putin in January 2012 declared that Russia was a “unique civilisation,” the concept gained actuality again.
The research that I will carry out during my fellowship period at the Aleksanteri Institute explores the most current uses of “Russian civilisation,” in particular among public intellectuals and academic writers. I will focus on what Boris Kapustin calls the “big discourse”: the scholarly literature on civilisation in contemporary Russia, which in turn may influence the “small discourse” of politics – of which the Putin article may serve as an example.  The material for the project include recent books by Sergei Redkozubov and Nikolai Sokolov (2008), Sergei Kara-Murza (2011), Igor’ Iakovenko and Aleksandr Muzykantskii (2011) and Valerii Il’in (2009). I will also analyse the nationalist think tank “Institute for Russian civilisation” (www.rusinst.ru), which has been responsible for several series of contemporary studies as well as of new editions of classical texts in Russian thought, which are hereby presented to the Russian audience as “theories” of Russian civilisation.
The project analyses the meanings of the notion of “civilisation” itself, its temporal orientation (is it a project or does it already exist?), the notions of modernity that it embodies, and its function within the overall framework of post-Soviet identity formation.


Email: kare.mjor[at]ucrs.uu.se

Academic hosts at the Aleksanteri Institute: Markku Kangaspuro and Jukka Pietiläinen