The Discursive Construction of Russian National Identity through the 2008 War in Georgia

Project leader

Marina Henrikson, PhD candidate


Vera Tolz, Sir William Mather Professor of Russian Studies, University of Manchester, UK

Stephen Hutchings, Professor of Russian Studies, University of Manchester, UK

Project period

September 2011 - June 2016

Project description

This thesis examines the discursive construction and re-construction of Russian state and national identity and the subsequent articulation of foreign policy through the 2008 war in Georgia, and how the role of lexicon and terminology within international relations assists in creating, maintaining and reformulating the identity of states and nations and their respective practices.

The discourses that were articulated and re-articulated in connection to the 2008 war contained certain themes that were familiar to the different audiences, themes often concerning nationhood and membership in the collective. In this study I will focus on the themes Great Powerness/Imperialism, Historical (primarily Soviet) legacy and Russian/Georgian Citizenship, due to them being important topics in the debate concerning the nature of the Russian nation/state and of the belongingness to the Russian nation. The study will seek to contribute to the debate around Russian nation-building as well as investigate the role of language within international relations.

Events in connection to the project

Co-organiser of the conference “Russia: Identities and Foreign Policy”, University of West Bohemia, Czech Republic, 16-17 April, 2015.

Co-organiser of the conference “New Research in Language-Based Area Studies”, University of Manchester, UK, 13-14 March, 2014.

Major funding sources

Axel and Margaret Ax:son Johnson Foundation, Sweden

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), UK

School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, University of Manchester, UK