Sovereignty and Borders Amid the Collapse of the Soviet Empire

February 19, 2021 | 10:30AM

Participants at this roundtable, the third event in a series of discussions sponsored by the After the End of History project at the Neubauer Collegium, will reflect on shifting borders and conceptions of sovereignty amid the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of post-Soviet nationalisms. Building on a robust history of the political collapse, the discussion will focus attention on the republics and on processes of political decentralization. Among the questions we invite panelists to explore are: What is the relationship of post-Soviet border redrawing to emerging ethno-nationalisms across the former Soviet Union? To what extent was ethno-nationalism the result of the political collapse, and to what extent did it draw on longue durée histories of regional tensions? In what ways did post-Soviet nationalist sovereignty build on former Soviet visions of power and statehood? Did the post-Soviet breakup entail a postcolonial reimagining of Soviet power? What role did religion play in the reimagining of national belonging and state sovereignty? How was ethno-nationalism and/or racialization mapped onto state borders?


Leah Feldman (moderator), Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature, University of Chicago

Altay Goyushov, Professor of Turkic History, Baku State University; Director of the Baku Research Institute

Faith Hillis (moderator), Associate Professor of Russian History, University of Chicago

Tamta Khalvashi, Professor of Anthropology, Ilia State University

Jeff Sahadeo, Professor of Political Science, Carleton University

Anna Whittington, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Interdisciplinary Project in the Humanities, Washington University in St. Louis


About the “After the End of History” Project

When Europe’s Communist regimes collapsed between 1989 and 1991, most observers hailed the spread of economic prosperity and liberal democracy across the continent. One commentator even predicted that the Communist collapse would bring about the “end of history,” ushering in an era of global peace and cultural convergence. It is now abundantly clear just how wrong these expectations were. This webinar series will catalyze an interdisciplinary dialogue about this period of profound transformation and work toward the creation of a new collective narrative of its meaning. Jettisoning old theories of democratic transition and cultural convergence, participants will approach this crucial period in history as an intense confrontation between models and ideas drawn from around the world. Emphasizing the importance of international exchange and circulation, they will document the emergence of a new form of regional politics that fused pernicious political and cultural ideas imported from the West, local traditions of national supremacy and xenophobia, and collective experiences of political and economic collapse. At the same time, the project will explore how these new cultural forms have been packaged and exported abroad, acquiring a visible role in EU and US politics.

Upcoming Events

April 16, 2021: Neotraditional Politics and Ethno-Nationalism

June 4, 2021: Gender, Sexuality, and “Left” Epistemologies