Opinions: How Western scholars overlooked Russian imperialism – by Botakoz Kassymbekova (Al Jazeera.com – January 24, 2023)


Botakoz Kassymbekova is an Assistant Professor of Modern History at the University of Basel

For far too long, Western academia has ignored the legacies of the Russian Empire and colonisation.

When Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, discussions emerged about the imperial nature of the war. Scholars who spoke up about it were quickly dismissed in certain Western academic and political circles.

Some, especially the self-professed “anti-imperialists”, claimed Russia was “provoked” and portrayed Ukraine’s resistance as a “Western imperial” plot. Others considered analyses of Russian imperialism as having a pro-war, hawkish agenda or being a reflection of narrow ethno-nationalist sentiments.

But for scholars from the post-Soviet space – from places that have suffered from Russian aggression and imperialism – these reactions were hardly a surprise. They had been ignored and dismissed before.

Discussions of Russian imperialism have long been overlooked while American, British and French imperialisms have been studied closely and thoroughly. This has much to do with how Western academia and to a certain extent political elites have chosen to approach the Soviet Union and its eventual dissolution.

For the rest of this column: https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2023/1/24/how-western-scholars-overlooked-russian-imperialism