Contemporary Russia is the country, which not only stands on the ruins of two empires (Russian Empire and the Soviet Union), but also has active imperial ambitions itself. Notably, some of its recent aggressive political choices in both domestic and international politics have been often attributed to hyper-masculinity of Russian President, Vladimir Putin. While the existing scholarship acknowledges that the fostering of Putin’s hyper-masculine image has been one of the regime’s central legitimation strategies, to date there has been very little attempt to understand why such form of domineering, militarised and assertive masculinity is received so well at the level of Russian population.
In the seminar, I will explain why the history of Russian/Soviet modernisation and colonialism has a crucial importance for understanding contemporary Russian masculinities. My emerging theoretical framework builds on (1) the decolonial scholarship of Madina Tlostanova (2008, 2012, 2015) and, (2) Raewyn Connell’s (2014, 2016) reassessment of global masculinities’ research in light of postcolonial critique. My research among other things provides evidence that the history of colonial conquest of the Caucasus and Central Asia, which relied on racialising the people inhabiting these territories as ‘backward’ and ‘in need of civilising’, not only disrupted the local ways of life, but also created a specific version of colonial masculinity still prevalent among men identifying as Russian today.
Drawing on analysis of in-depth biographical interviews with 40 Russian men of different ages and highly different social backgrounds interviewed in Russia and the UK in 2013 - 2014, I will show how the research participants link the notions of gender, race and ‘civilisational progress’ for establishing their individual masculinities. I argue that ‘mutant coloniality’ of Russia (colonised by the Eurocentric discourses of modernity and a coloniser itself) has generated a specific version of masculinity, which intertwines gender relations and racial hierarchy with an intensity absent from the Western world.
Dr. Marina Yusupova will present her work at the Aleksanteri Institute Visiting Fellows Research Seminar on Thursday 12 September, 2019 at 14:15 in the Aleksanteri Institute 2nd floor meeting room, Unioninkatu 33, Helsinki). The event is chaired by Dr. Alexander Kondakov.