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Sovereignty and Borders Amid the Collapse of the Soviet Empire


Event Summary

KGB border troops wearing the Spetsodezhda at the Khorgos Soviet-Chinese frontier post, January 1984. Via Wikimedia Commons.

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, reflected 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 focused attention on the republics and on processes of political decentralization. Among the questions we invited panelists to explore were: 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